T Slot End Mill

What is a T slot end mill?

The end mills are one of the primary woodworking or metalworking tools in CNC machining. They are a type of drill bits or cutting tools to cut the work pieces on a CNC lathe. To cut the work pieces with the end mill, it is mounted to a CNC spindle. There are teeth on the end mills and when the mills spin at a high speed, the teeth cut through the work pieces. The teeth on the end mill are called flutes.

The T slot end mill is a subtype of the end mills which does not cut through the work pieces vertically, but horizontally. Typically speaking, the end mill advances straight forward along the axis of the CNC spindle to cut the work pieces. However, the T slot end mill advances horizontally to the work pieces from the side. Since the T slot end mills can only cut with the tip end, there must be a slot on the work piece for the shaft of the T slot end mill to pass through.

The end mills alone have a numerous subtypes based on the configurations the end mill has and the T slot end mill is only a type of it; not to mention there is a wide variety of drilling bits that can be used in CNC machining. Each of the end mills or drilling bits is designed for specific machining operations. The materials and the flutes of the end mills influence the function of these cutting tools tremendously.


Why are end mills needed in CNC machining?

The end mills, or the milling cutters, are used in a CNC machine frequently. How the end mills manage to cut the work pieces is very simple. The end mills spin at a high speed as the CNC spindles runs. The flutes on the end mills are hard and sharp. As they spin, they penetrate through the work pieces. The end mills then take the parts of the work piece they contact away.

The route the end mills go on a work piece is programmed by the computer, which is why the milling operations are called CNC machining. CNC is the acronym which stands for computer numerical control. The engineer draw the design of the work piece on the computer and programmed the route for the end mills to carry out the desired shape of the work piece. When the route is programmed, the CNC machine directs the drill bits on it to start the milling operation.

In other words, the end mills are the terminal end that execute the program and carry out the design on the work pieces. Based on the designs, particular end mills or drill bits are required in order to best execute the computerized programs. The T slot end mills are the best milling tools for slot milling operations.


What does a T slot end mill do?

The end mills are the cutters used primarily for slotting, profiling, contouring, counter-boring, and reaming while the T slot end mills are designed for milling T slots into the work pieces. Before milling T slot with the T slot end mill, a vertical slot must be cut first so that the neck and shank of the T slot end mill can enter.

The T slot end mills are the cutters for side-milling operations and they only cut the work piece in a horizontal direction while other types of end mills can cut through the work pieces both horizontally and vertically. The horizontal direction refers to the lateral motion of the spindle, the side to side motion. The feed motion is vertical to the rotation motion when using the T slot end mills. There is a wide variety of lengths, diameters, flutes and types of T slot end mills as well as the typical end mills.

As mentioned, the milling tools should be selected based on the required operations. Besides the process to proceed, the choice of the end mills should also take the material of the work pieces into consideration. A relatively softer end mill cannot cut through a piece of hardened steel. If the milling operation is conducted with the wrong end mill, the end mill wears out easily and the precision of the operation cannot be assured.


What is T slot milling?

When it comes to T slot milling operation, two milling cutters are needed: the T slot end mill and a regular end mills. The first stage of the T slot milling involves creating a slot in the work piece with a regular end mill first. The slot is a plain groove across the work piece. The width of the slot should be the same as that of the neck of the T slot end mill and the depth of the slot should be equal to the depth of the head and neck of the T slot end mill. Once the slot is created, the T slot end mill is used to cut the head space in the work piece.

Before starting the T slot milling, the position of the T slot is laid out on the work piece. The depth is determinedly mainly by the thickness of the work piece which the maximum and minimum dimensions are allowed. When the position and depth is set, the end mill will be selected to execute the operation. The T slot end mill will go align the previously cut plain groove to make the cut. Cutting oil is required during the milling operation to take away the removed particles of the work piece.

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