For those engaged in high-mix, low-volume machining, versatility (mostly) rules
Aluminum one day, titanium the next, low-carbon steel the day after that. When you have no idea what’s coming down the pike, it's obvious that you need cutting tools able to survive whatever you throw their way. But is survival enough? Is it better to sacrifice some modicum of performance to avoid switching to a material-specific cutting tool, or to keep the tool crib inventory to the bare minimum by going to a more general-purpose grade of carbide and tool geometry?
These are good questions. Like so many things, the honest answer is one you probably won’t like: it depends. The job quantity, whether it will repeat, the metal being machined, how much of it must be removed from the workpiece, the condition of the machine tool, and rigidity of the setup—each of these factors help determine whether you should take a middle-of-the-road approach to cutting tool selection, or invest in the very best drill or end mill for that specific material.
I discussed all this in a previous blog post, “Speaking Specifically.” It talked about EMUGE’s TiNox-Cut end mills and how they're optimized for superalloys. Now let's speak in more general terms--EMUGE's answer to the job shop and high-mix, low-volume machining questions just posed is the TOP-CUT VAR.
As before, I won’t go into all the details—that’s the sales team’s job. Just know that it does a darned good job in a wide range of materials. Not as good a job as the TiNox might, but close. You can think of the TOP-CUT VAR like you would a Leatherman—it’s not the tool you’d use to rebuild the engine in your ’72 Triumph, but for tuning up the riding lawnmower, have at it.
That last blog post also suggested that high-performance end mills require some work to optimize. I think there might have been a fishing boat analogy in there. For those who push the Easy Button whenever possible, the TOP-Cut is definitely more plug-and-play, but that doesn't mean you can't get a bunch more performance out of it with a little effort.
For example, if you're not yet using trochoidal milling, this is a good end mill to get your feet wet. But even without advanced toolpaths, you’ll probably need to tweak the feeds and speeds if you’re to take advantage of the multiphase coating and special edge prep. Who said machining was easy?
Anyway, maybe you can have your cake and eat it too. It might not be the whole cake, but a sizable chunk of it at least. Give it a shot. And give me a holler if you need a hand. That’s what I’m here for.
You can download the new product guide here: TOP-CUT VAR Product Guide