Chamfering is a process that has a lot of uses when you´re in the machining industry. It can be defined as creating an intermediate angle between two intersecting sides. Say, a sharp 90° angled side can be softened by adding a small chamfer, turning the intersections into harmless 45° angles.
However, chamfering has a lot more uses than most people suspect.
Using a chamfer end mill to remove sharp edges and burrs is a pretty basic operation. Turned surfaces often are capable of damaging your skin when swapping detail for your next operation. Operators always check the edges performed by cutters to test sharpness, and this is done several times when you have several people doing detail in a chain. One problem is that gloves are often frowned upon when machining due to safety rules in certain environments. So, burred details increase the risk of cuts, and also disease transmission in some cases.
Chamfering is also required when working on assembly. When you create chamfered surfaces, they act as a guiding surface so parts mate more easily.
Now, the secret to machining perfectly finished chamfers on your pieces is having the right tools for the job. Chamfer end mills are the preferred tools for giving your pieces and edges a safe and polished angled side.
Chamfer end mills typically usually show a straight and robust shank that grants the tool structural stability. They usually come with a pointed tip that will take the brunt of the force when milling. The flutes do not go too far up the shank as most of the cutting action will be concentrated on the angled tip. The most common chamfer end mills will present 90° points, allowing your machine to perform 45° cuts and edges with ease. However, there are also 60° degree points for wider angles.
Now, when productivity is an issue, you need to use tools that allow you to create perfect chamfers as fast and accurately as possible. Steel chamfer end mills have sharp edges and can deburr your pieces creating smooth chamfers. However, you cannot drive these tools too fast, as they lose their temper and structural integrity as soon as they reach their relatively low tempering temperatures. This means you are forced to keep speeds low to a stately crawl, especially when dealing with hardened metals.
Moreover, steel tools tend to fail often, forcing your whole operation to stop while you change tools. If you add the time consumed in all of these instances, you soon realize you´re wasting dozens of working hours a month during this process.
If you want to drastically reduce the impact of tool change downtime, you need to use solid carbide chamfer end mills. Carbide end mills are stronger, harder, and more accurate than steel tools. Carbide is a ceramic composite that is proven to be ten times harder than steel and only a tad behind diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale. This hardness provides a better price-durability ratio, meaning that they can be more expensive but you will be able to get a lot more bang for your buck. Carbide chamfer mills are also a lot more rigid, meaning that they are less prone to wobbling or producing tool chatter, providing more accurate cuts and smoother finishes.
Chamfer end mills are extremely versatile too. If your operation requires to side mill a notch, or work some small engravings, a good carbide chamfer end mill can perform these without requiring a tool change.
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