End Mills for Aluminum
Milling aluminum can be quite different from milling other materials like steel or plastics due to aluminum's unique properties. To achieve the best results when milling aluminum, it's important to use carbide end mills specifically designed for this material. Here are some characteristics that make certain carbide end mills better for milling aluminum compared to standard end mills:
Carbide end mills are the preferred choice for milling aluminum. Carbide is harder and more wear-resistant than high-speed steel (HSS), making it suitable for the high-speed machining often used with aluminum.
High Helix Angle: Carbide end mills designed for aluminum typically have a high helix angle (often 45 degrees or higher). This helps in efficient chip evacuation and reduces the risk of chip recutting, which can lead to heat buildup and tool wear.
Polished Flutes: Some aluminum-specific carbide end mills have polished or specially coated flutes to minimize built-up edge (BUE) and reduce the tendency of aluminum to stick to the tool.
Number of Flutes
Fewer Flutes: Carbdie end mills with fewer flutes (typically two or three) are often preferred for aluminum machining. Fewer flutes allow for larger chip evacuation channels and can handle the softer, gummy nature of aluminum better.
TiN, TiCN, ZRN or AlTiN Coatings: These coatings can enhance tool life and reduce friction during aluminum milling. AlTiN (Aluminum Titanium Nitride) coatings are particularly well-suited for aluminum due to their lubricity and heat resistance. (see additional coating details here)
Some carbide end mills designed for aluminum may have chip breakers or flutes with varying helix angles to help control chip formation and improve surface finish.
Rigidity and Stiffness
The carbide end mill and the milling machine should provide sufficient rigidity and stiffness to prevent vibrations, which can negatively impact surface finish and tool life.
Speeds and Feeds
Proper speeds and feeds are critical when milling aluminum. Aluminum-specific end mills are often optimized for higher speeds and chip loads suited to the material's properties.
Coolant or Lubrication
While aluminum is known for its ability to dissipate heat, using a coolant or lubrication can still help improve tool life and surface finish, especially in high-speed milling operations.
Some carbide end mills designed for aluminum have specialized cutter geometries, such as variable helix or variable pitch designs, to minimize chatter and vibrations.
When selecting a carbide end mill for milling aluminum, it's essential to consider the specific requirements of your machining operation, including the type of aluminum alloy, cutting conditions, and desired surface finish. If you would like to discuss your application in more detail please reach out to us at 908-98-ATLAS or email us at Sales@atlascuttingtools.com