Affordable Aluminum Cutting

I know this has been discussed many times, however I haven’t found what I’m looking for.

Does Inventables or Amazon sell an affordable 1/8" end mill that is good for aluminum cutting? I’m currently using a Kodiak KCT149560 1/8" end mill which works WONDERFULLY when they are new. However they start dulling after about 10 hours of use (at 0.005in depth per pass) and currently cost $24.50 each on Amazon. Which makes them cost prohibitive to use for the mending plates that I’m making.

Pictured is a brand new Kyocera (not super cheap) end mill on the left, and a Kodiak with about 15 hours of use on the right. The Kodiak still works A LOT better, the Kyocera leaves really rough edges and I’m certain that it will miscut pretty often as loud as it is.

Any advise would be hugely appreciated… I don’t want to have to give up entirely on aluminum milling.

Any mist/coolant or air?

Haven’t been using coolant. I’m guessing that would make it dull slower. What would you recommend for X-Carve?

Looks like things are getting hot. Put RPMS on minimum and increase your feed speed. I use Destiny Viper bits and they last a lot longer than that. But, I now also use flood cooling. Stick with two flutes. Also, there are many types of aluminum. I mill 6061 almost excclusively in T6 temper. Some other types are really gummy. You need some method to get the chips out of there - like air jet, mist or flood cooling. That really helps.

1 Like

Like Earwigger mention, heat seem to have been present.
Would you care to elaborate feeds/rpm used, along with material grade/thickness?

The Xcarve isn’t a rigid machine so when it comes to aluminium your mileage may vary, one way to deal with this is shallow depth of cut like you are doing.
Downside is that the bit end up doing long hrs and only the 0.005" of the tip is utilized.

Using a different tool path strategy may allow deeper cut per pass (entering by helical motion) but with a shallow step-over in order to keep the load within comfort. This utilise a longer part of the cutter and should reduce overall carve time as MRR is easier to bump up.

Yup, cooling is a big aid with aluminium. I use air with a mist of denatured alcohol. I have used WD40 in the past and it works, but leave oily residue behind. Alcohol does not.

1 Like

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that Kyocera appears to be a down-cut bit. You definitely do not want to be using that on aluminum. You want to stick with up-cut to help clear out the chips.

It’s also fish-tail-end, which isn’t going to leave you a very good surface finish (not an issue if you’re milling all the way through your material). For that, you want a flat-end.

2 Likes

You are not wrong.

@AlexBates Look into HSS bits. Amana makes good ones… Much cheaper than Carbide or specially coated.

1 Like

For small diameter cutters like 1/8" try to use 1F or 2F bits if you intend to adapt deeper depth per cut rates (fewer flutes = better chip clearing)

For shallow depth passes like 0.005" I have had excellent results with this fairly reasonable bit, note that its shank is 6mm and 1/4" = 6.35mm so you may need a suitable collet:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Solid-Carbide-Aluminum-End-Mill-3Flute-Cutting-Dia-3mm-Length-50mm-Aluminum-Bits/113341863320?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131017132637%26meid%3D09d36682fed94e62b7af28c551ab80d7%26pid%3D100033%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D113304989677%26itm%3D113341863320&_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042

it seems eveything I had to say has already been said :wink:

I use viper bits only, which are supposed to be as good as bits get for aluminium.
Use lubricant/coolant!

I recommend a similar but to the one you’re using:

https://www.kodiakcuttingtools.com/viewproducts/carbide-end-mills-2-flute-single-end-45-degree-zrn-coated-for-aluminum/

Buy direct and you get 2 for the price of the one you were buying assumingly from Amazon and it’s also coated which will increase the life. The non coated variety direct is only $11 each which again, is cheaper per bit.

By the way, with the Kodiak bit, using speed 1 and 48 ipm, you can achieve the manufacturer recommended IPT and SFM.

1 Like

I buy Viper bits from Drillman1 on E-bay
. These are made specifically to cut aluminum, and not too pricey either. I use alcohol as a flood coolant (obviously not near open flame!). It cools the bit, and evaporates quickly, so it doesn’t mess up the spoilboard. Just my $.02.

does anyone have a favorite destiny 1/4" or 1/8" two flute bit they would like to share for aluminum?

I use what they call aluminum wax stick on my cutting bits and my negative kerf saw blades ,also I like a router bit with more flutes which makes smaller bites and finer shavings the bits last for long time the wax stick