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  • Endmills...

    Ok the print shop I work at I do quite a few fixtures, tools and odds and ends out of aluminum. Mostly 6061 and "wait, what... there are different KINDS of aluminum?!" mystery-metal.

    Now that I've proved that I can make the Bridgeport go, Boss wants to know what sort of endmills we should be ordering. I showed him a catalog and we're both kind of bewildered. He had been grabbing 2 and 4 flute mills from Fastenal as they get battered.

    Now I know just enough to get me in trouble, being a home-shopper and all... My machine of choice is the lathe not the mill so I could use a few pointers. Normally I get my endmills from Little Machine Shop for home use.

    What sort of endmills should we be using given the information I specifed above?
    This product has been determined by the state of California to cause permanent irreversible death. This statement may or may not be recognized as valid by all states.
    Heirs of an old war/that's what we've become Inheriting troubles I'm mentally numb
    Plastic Operators Dot Com

  • #2
    Well, I'm no expert, but I recently tried some 3 flute endmills and I like them. Seems to be the best of both worlds. It might save you from telling him you need an assortment of 2 flute AND an assortment of 4 flute.

    Kerry

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    • #3
      this is my favorite source for endmills for cutting AL:

      http://cgi.ebay.ca/1-2-3FL-USA-Harmo...713.m153.l1262
      Ernie (VE7ERN)

      May the wind be always at your back

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      • #4
        A good source of end mills is Lake Shore

        http://www.lakeshorecarbide.com/

        I know carbide is expensive, but it is lower cost in the long run. Also, if you have been buying from fastenal, it won't seem so bad.

        Note that it is best to buy specific mills for the material you use. Call the Lake Shore and ask for advise.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Liger Zero
          What sort of endmills should we be using given the information I specifed above?
          To paraphrase Freud, sometimes an endmill is just an endmill. A lot of guys like a 3-flute for aluminum, some prefer carbide to cobalt to HSS, and some will swear by variable-helix $40 specials over $4 Chinese ones, but for run-of-the-mill MRO jobs on a manual machine, it's probably not a subject worth losing more than a few minutes of sleep over.

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          • #6
            i think any endmill will do, but the guys that cut AL all day long use higher helix angle end mills specifically for AL

            http://www.productionmachining.com/u..._Supermill.jpg
            in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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            • #7
              Generic roughing mills from Enco or whoever.

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              • #8
                For work I do one-off & short run (there can be quite a bit of work in each piece) in Acetal, 6061, some steel. This is my WORKHORSE Pretty plain jane but is high helix for aluminum. They will last forever. These are Atrax brand.

                Save the "fancy" tooling for production work where the extra cost will be offset by the increased productivity.
                Jon Bohlander
                My PM Blog

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                • #9
                  Ok thanks for the advice when I go back tomorrow I'll show him these suggestions.

                  I want to have at least five endmills on hand, of different sizes. Lathe tooling I gladly supply because I managed to score a huge pile of brazed carbide and HSS blanks from a shop that closed down just recently along with a Really Cool Boring Bar that uses inserts and some other stuff... all for the low low price of "meh, take it saves me from having to identify and price it."

                  Sure wish I had grabbed endmills too, now.
                  This product has been determined by the state of California to cause permanent irreversible death. This statement may or may not be recognized as valid by all states.
                  Heirs of an old war/that's what we've become Inheriting troubles I'm mentally numb
                  Plastic Operators Dot Com

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                  • #10
                    Re: Endmills

                    If you do a lot of Aluminum work treat yourself to some high helix end mills, such as the Weldon Ski cut (the Enco are almost as good too). They are two flute but cut with little or no chatter and clear the chip out better than standard helix do. They are good for plastics and other softer materials too. For hogging steel you want a couple of sizes of the roughing mills, sometimes referred to as "corncob roughers." Otherwise, you will need an assortment of sizes of two and four flute standard end mills to handle odd jobs. If you are careful and have a means to resharpen them a set of end mills will last a lifetime. I have some that I have had and used for years, with only a periodic sharpening of the ends. I had a sharpening fixture for the surface grinder that did a neat job on them and got pretty good at keeping them sharp (if I don't say so myself!).
                    Jim (KB4IVH)

                    Only fools abuse their tools.

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                    • #11
                      I have a fellow who has offered to resharpen the ones we have for a case of beer... I dunno you can see where they collided with the vice and other signs of painful abuse.

                      That's why I want to start over with a set of new endmills. Even if I leave here for whatever reason (not planning to) I want them to have the "right tools" on hand rather than stumbling along like they have been.

                      The fellow who I've been working with is Not A Machinist but he's puzzled out quite a bit on his own, and I'm passing along what I know about "the right way" in exchange for information on pad and screen-printing.

                      I gather by the oblique comments some of the "damage" may have occurred while he was learning. That's NEVER happened to me, I've never crashed an endmill into the vice or poked a hole in the table AT ALL EVER. *nose grows 72 inches, pants burst into flames*
                      This product has been determined by the state of California to cause permanent irreversible death. This statement may or may not be recognized as valid by all states.
                      Heirs of an old war/that's what we've become Inheriting troubles I'm mentally numb
                      Plastic Operators Dot Com

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                      • #12
                        I use Garr carbide for most things. They are razor sharp and stay that way. The Al doesn't stick to them the same and expecially in the smaller sizes the stiffness is much better. 2 flute for most cutting but 4 flute for slots and fine finish.

                        The main thing is do not use your aluminum cutters on ferrous metals. It takes the super sharp edge off in a few moments. If you need to then paint the flutes so you can tell which is for what. Aluminum does cause wear on HSS because most alloys contain some silicon. Casting alloys contain a lot of silicon and carbide is a must.


                        That's NEVER happened to me, I've never crashed an endmill into the vice or poked a hole in the table AT ALL EVER. *nose grows 72 inches, pants burst into flames*
                        Someday I should take a picture of the vise on the really large mill/drill at the job shop in town. It looks like it just barely survived reentry from high Earth orbit. Still works though.
                        Last edited by Evan; 05-20-2009, 03:16 PM.
                        Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                        • #13
                          From what I gather they power-fed the endmill into the corner of the vice four or five times before they realize the speed control exists for a reason. Hey, it happens. Been there done that had to ask for another endmill, got screamed at by the penny-pinching accountant.

                          That said, adjusting and repairing said power-feed is my next topic.

                          Tomorrow. I have a Day Off today and I can't read the nameplate from here.
                          This product has been determined by the state of California to cause permanent irreversible death. This statement may or may not be recognized as valid by all states.
                          Heirs of an old war/that's what we've become Inheriting troubles I'm mentally numb
                          Plastic Operators Dot Com

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Evan
                            I use Garr carbide for most things. They are razor sharp and stay that way. The Al doesn't stick to them the same and expecially in the smaller sizes the stiffness is much better. 2 flute for most cutting but 4 flute for slots and fine finish.
                            4 flutes will cut oversize on a slotting operation. Use two or 3 flute then. But thats about the only time I intentionally use 2 flute mills. Usually 3 or 4.

                            Some of the new coatings are really nice. They allow you to cut aluminum dry without any coolant to keep it from piling up on the cutter.

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                            • #15
                              4 flutes will cut oversize on a slotting operation
                              I don't have a problem with that but that might be because I run .250" end mills at 5000 rpm. You do have to watch the lubrication though as there isn't a lot of clearance for chips with a 4 flute. When I used to use my lathe for milling then 2 flute was the best for slotting.
                              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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