In CNC machining and engineering, cutting tools such as drill bits, mill, or taps are used in various machining operations to remove parts from a work piece. For each type of machining process, the cutting tools that are used differ based on the requirements of a certain machining work. For example, drills are the cutting tools that are used in the general purpose drilling operations to create holes in work pieces. End mills are the cutting tools with sharp tips and side cutting edges used in end milling operations. Depending on the characteristics each piece of end mill has, they can be further divided into subtypes such as roughing end mills, finishing end mills, and more. Tapered end mills are one of the subtypes.
Tapered end mills are used to create slots and grooves with tapered walls instead of drilling holes in a work piece. This type of end mill has a conical cutting tip which is wider on the shaft end and narrower on the tip end. The cutting tip of an end mill is also called the cutting head. Just like other types of end mills, the tapered end mills have flutes on its cutting head. The flutes carry away chips from the workpiece so that the damage to the cutting tools as well the work pieces can be prevented. Tapered end mills are one of the essential elements in CNC machining since the specialized cutting head design allows more versatility and possibility to modern CNC manufacturing and engineering with the taper angles they are able to work with.
In CNC machining, tapered end mills are applied in multiple industries for a wide range of applications. They can be used to create walls with draft or clearance angle, they can be used to manufacture molds and dies, and they can also be used to process other types of tools. These are the typical two dimensional machining operations in which the X and Y axis movements are involved. Tapered end mills are also applicable for three dimensional machining operations where the three axis movement is involved to process work pieces with complex surfaces. Tapered end mills are also frequently used for roughing or finishing operations.
It happens sometimes that the cutting tools break apart or wear out during a machining operation. The cause of the damage to the cutting tools may be improper advancing angles, feeding rates, choice of cutting tools, etc. Generally speaking, the larger a cutting tool’s diameter is, the stronger the tool is. The tapered neck of a tapered end mill offers an increasing cross section, which reduces tool deflection during an operation and increases the strength over straight reach cutting tools.
The straight reach cutting tools refer to the regular cutting tools that have the consistent cross section from the cutting head to the base end. The tapered sides of a cutting tool influence the feeding rates to certain extent. With a three-degree angle per side, the feed rate is increased roughly by ten percent over a cutting tool with a straight neck. Also, with the three-degree angle, the deflection is reduced roughly by sixty percent over the straight neck cutting tools.
With higher feed rates and less deflection, the performance and productivity of the tapered cutting tools can be profoundly boosted. Generally speaking, the tapered end mills have better strength and less risk of tool deflection. They are able to work at higher speeds with a higher feed capability compared to the straight reach end mills. In addition, it is easier to create flat tapered walls in the work pieces on the three-axis machining centers.
Though the tapered end mills come with certain solid advantages, there are also limits to the use of them. Depending on the wall angle of the workpiece, the tapered end mill may sometimes interfere with the workpiece while a straight reach end mill does not. For example, a tapered end mill works well with the tapered walls but the use of it can be awkward when working with the vertical walls. In sum, when the clearance allows, a cutting tool with the largest tapered reach possible can best optimize the performance.
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