What You Need to Know About The Insert End Mill

Posted on Dec 9, 2020

Indexable End Mill

An insert end mill, or indexable end mill, or indexable insert end mill, is a replaceable cutting tool for a variety of machining processes.

What Is an Insert End Mill?

An insert end mill also called an indexable end mill or indexable insert end mill, is a replaceable cutter for a variety of machining processes. The insert end mill is inserted into the tool holder on the milling head and self-positioned during replacement. The indexable feature of insert end mills prevents misalignment of the machine and thus facilitates smooth operation with improved efficiency. Besides, the increased available cutting edges make indexable insert end mills preferred over the conventional solid end mills.

In the development of cutting tools, the insert end mills are an advanced form of solid end mills. With similar functions but different designs, both are used to remove materials from workpieces to create the required product geometries. The main difference between these two cutting tools is in the engagement of the shank and cutting tip. The former has the replaceable inserts that are taken advantage of revealing the sharpest cutting edge, by either flipping the insert or exchanging it with a new one.

:: See Products: Indexable end mill

Why Use Insert End Mills?

End mills are the cutting tools mounted on a milling machine or CNC machining center. They come in a variety of forms, which are specialized in creating different cutting parts. Different end mills vary in the configuration of teeth, the number of flutes, and tool size. When combined with the automatic tool change function equipped on the CNC machines, end mills are useful tools for more intricate machining processes. 

In the conventional perspective, to change the shape of the cutting part, it is necessary to do the following procedures. First, choose the right cutting tool. For manually operated milling machines, from tool choice to process setting, the operator is responsible for making the decision. After deciding which tool to use, the operator should adjust the interval and angle of jaws on the tool holder, which is usually a chuck. Finally, before restarting the machining process, whether gauging the alignment of the tool or not makes a difference in the result of the product. When the above arrangements are properly dealt with, the tool exchange is complete.

Excessive machining procedures are not ideal for large volumes of production at all. They sacrifice the working efficiency if precision is what must be considered. On the one hand, running through the above procedures takes time, which reduces the amount of output in a fixed period of time. On the other hand, since deviation leads to failure of the machining process, the positioning of cutting tools also increases processing time, which decreases the efficiency accordingly.

To optimize the efficiency and precision, investing the indexable end mills is an effective measure. Instead of removing the entire cutter, the replacement of insert end mills only requires changing the inserts, and this only happens when the entire insert wears. In most cases, turning 90° or flipping to the other side of the insert is enough for revealing another sharp cutting edge. In addition, the insert end mills can be self-positioned as they are held by the tool holder. This eliminates the need in adjusting the chuck as well as in aligning the mechanism. 

:: Read More: End Milling Cutters – the Bull Endmills

What's the Difference between Solid and Insert End Mills?

As mentioned above, the applications of solid and indexable forms of end mills employ the development of end mills. Although the conventional solid form is overwhelmed by the versatility its counterpart has, both are available tools in the machining process. Before choosing one over another, let’s learn about the difference in the material and design between them first.

● Material

The solid end mills can be made of several materials, including high-speed steel (HSS), vanadium high-speed steel (HSSE), cobalt, powdered metal (PM), solid carbide, and polycrystalline diamond (PCD). The material of solid end mills is variable based on the interrelation of the whole parts of the tool. In contrast, the individual insert end mills are usually made of carbide, which remains the optimal condition of the tool under high temperature and pressure.

● Design

With a similar function, the design of both solid and insert end mills encompasses the teeth and flutes. However, the main difference between them is in the cutting tips. The cutting tip is on the sides of the end mill where teeth and flutes locate at, and the indexable ones are often double-sided. The term double-sided refers to the tool that contains two sides of cutting tips, which allows for adjusting the tools. 

When it comes to the cutting tip, in addition to the single or double-sided forms, the cutting edge on each tip also determines the practicality of the tools. The indexable end mills usually have more cutting edges than solid end mills, which enables increasing cutting dimensions.

What Are the Special Features of Insert End Mills?

Now that we have known the difference between the two types of end mills, let’s be more specific about the impressive features the insert end mills have. After that, you will have compressive knowledge about these advanced tools, and be sure why they are the perfect choices for your production needs.

● Self-positioned

With the other name as an indexable end mill, this type of tool is able to self-position once they are inserted on the chuck. This feature ensures the appropriate alignment and makes these tools suitable for applications on CNC machining centers with automatic operation methods.

● Easy to Install and Replace

The ease of installation is realized in the self-positioned feature, and what makes these tools easy to replace is the fundamental insert design. Without the need of removing the entire tools and the following adjustments, it reduces a significant amount of time during the process.

● Available for Double-sided Design

The double-sided design of the cutting tip makes these tools economic choices. With an equal or more amount of output, the cost spent on one insert end mill is half the cost on two solid units. This means that the double-sided cutting tips enable double effects on the performance as well.

● Beneficial to Increase Efficiency

Having numerous capabilities including indexability, convenience in installation and replacement, and double-sided design, these tools are beneficial to efficiency. The increase in efficiency leads to an increase in profits, which is what all the manufacturers long for.

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