2023, CNC Routing

CNC Tooling Tips

Tool Material

  • Solid Carbide: provides best rigidity and a prolonged tool life
  • Carbide Tipped: Incorporates the wear resistance of carbide and the toughness of a high speed steel body
  • High Speed Steel: provides tough body and the sharpest cutting edge

Flute Geometry

  • Straight: offers a neutral cutting action and highest force
  • Upcut: offers the best surface finish and chip evacuation. Can cause material lifting if vacuum or fixturing is not sufficient
  • Downcut: provides a downward force which helps eliminate part lifting. Chip re-welding may occur if there is no space below the part for chip expansion.
  • Compression: used for wood and laminated materials, produces a good top and bottom finish on the part. Eliminates fraying and chipping.

Number of Flutes

  • Single Flute: Allows for larger chip-loads in softer materials
  • Double Flute: Allows for better part finish in harder materials.
  • Multiple Flutes: Allows for faster speeds and an even better part finish in harder materials.
  • *Note*: As the number of cutting edges increase, your feed rate should increase to prevent burning and premature tool dulling.

Tool Heat

If a feed rate is too low, heat will be generated causing the cutting edge to break down and dull quickly. To check this, run a nest of parts and stop the spindle. When the spindle has stopped rotating, carefully feel the tool’s temperature. It should be at or near room temperature. This can also be done with a temperature gun. It’s a great resource to have near a CNC machine.

Collet & Tool Holder Life Span

Collets have a life span of roughly 3 months (depending on use). Replacing the collets in a timely fashion will ensure your operation runs consistently and prevents tool breakage. When inserting a tool into the collet make sure the flute fadeout does not enter the collet. This will cause run out and potentially lead to tool breakage. To ensure proper clamping, the tool shank should fill most of the collet. Proper torque when tightening the nut is not only an important safety measure but also effects tool life, cut quality and spindle performance.

Tool Holders have a life span of roughly 2 years (depending on use). Replacing the tool holders will ensure your spindle is not receiving addition pressure and prevents tool breakage. Replacing both the tool holder and collet in a timely fashion will also increase cut quality and tool life.

Tooling Maintenance

Storage of all tooling is important. If possible, keep extra tools in original cases and in a tool box. Debris and dust buildup can wear these items or cause runout when loaded into a spindle. Using a protectant/cleaner is a great way to get more out of your tools. Cleaning collets and tool holders between every tool change is key to long term cutting success.

See article specific to this HERE

Tool Breakage

See article specific to this HERE

This is one of many articles to come, related to CNC routing on this website. We will also be sharing videos and updates on our social media pages. Stay up-to-date with Multicam Great Lakes by following us on LinkedInFacebook, and YouTube.

If you need any help cutting specific materials on your CNC Router or Knife Cutter, please call me at (616) 502-7277. I (Greg) manage the tooling department, where we are a distributor for CNC tooling. I work with some of the best tooling suppliers in the world, such as LMT Onsrud, X-Edge, Techniks, Whiteside, LMT Belin, Amana, Emuge, and more. Feel free to check out our online webstore to see some of what we offer. Thanks for stopping by.

Greg Smolka

CNC Tooling Manager at Multicam Great Lakes

Here to help with tooling recommendations (bits, knives, collets, tool holders, cleaners and kits, torque stations, etc.) and cutting recommendations (feeds/speeds, tips/tricks, # of passes, etc.).

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