Should You Use a Solid or Indexable End Mill?

For years, there have been a lot of questions and debates among machining professionals about milling cutters. For example, which brand is best and should one consider an indexable end mill in some cases? The truth is, there are no right answers, as each situation you face may be unique and as such, have unique requirements. Let’s look at milling cutters a little closer, so you can make your own decision.

Solid Milling Cutters

Solid cutters are one piece design and can perform their jobs very well. However, because they are one piece, you are limited to one specific size or task. As a result, you may need to change tools often, depending on the kind of work you are doing. Plus, a solid cutter will eventually become dull and there are only so many times they can be ground down.

Indexable End Mill

The word “indexable” means adjustable. In other words, these cutters have special inserts which can be installed and adjusted to change the angle of the cutting process. This can provide several different benefits. For instance, the machinist does not have to change tools as often. In order to make a change, one only needs to change the setting on the insert.

When inserts become worn, they can simply be replaced and they are not overly expensive. Plus, you have a wider range of cutting options when you go with an indexable end mill.

Is There a Downside?

Nothing is perfect and neither is the indexable milling cutter. For instance, many machinists feel insert type cutters cannot match the precision of solid cutters with carbide tips or made from solid carbide. As a result, it may be best to use these tools for removing large amounts of material and for work pieces which are rough cut and must be finished with another process.

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