How to increase your tool life

This guide will show you 11 ways to radically increase your tool life and reduce tool wear. Plus it will explain the details and mechanisms of tool wear, discuss how to calculate tool wear, and describe tool life monitoring.

1.  Use the Right Feeds and Speeds

I have to start right here with using the right feeds and speeds.  I can’t help it–we sell a Feeds and Speeds Calculator that’s simply the best thing for feeds and speeds since sliced bread.  There are a lot of ways to go wrong with Feeds and Speeds, even for experienced machinists:

You need to be using a Feeds and Speeds Calculator, even if it isn’t ours (you know it hurts me to say that, but it’s true).

2.  Keep Deflection Under Control

Deflection kills endmills, sometimes in surprising ways, and especially carbide endmills since they’re brittle and don’t bend as easily as HSS endmills.  Most machinists are unaware how much deflection they’re running until it gets too far out of hand.  But, a good Feeds and Speeds Calculator will tell you how much deflection your cut parameters will generate.  A great one will help you optimize your cut parameters within deflection limits.

3.  Avoid Recutting Chips

I tell everyone I can to be paranoid about recutting chips.  Make sure the coolant is set up to get rid of them.  Sometimes flood coolant turns into “dribble” coolant because machines lack full enclosures and the machinist wants to avoid a mess.  Use mist for those machines as the dribble just covers up the chips sitting in the cut so you can no longer see them.

4.  Lubricate Sticky Materials

Built up edge or “BUE” is the technical term.  Some materials have an affinity for what cutters are made of and they will weld chips onto the cutting edge which quickly results in a broken cutter.  Aluminum is one such, but there are a lot of others.  Look up the material and if it is prone to chip welding, you need lubrication.  You can get it from flood coolant, mist coolant, or some tool coatings.  What you can do is machine materials prone to chip welding without it.

5.  Add a Surface Speed Safety Factor

Given a choice between reducing surface speed (SFM or spindle rpms) and reducing chip load, surface speed is the one to go after for tool life unless you’re breaking relatively new cutters, in which case you need to reduce chip load.

A slight reduction in surface speed can yield big dividends for tool life.  Surface speed is all about how hot the tool can run and reducing it lowers the heat.  Heat softens the cutting edge which means it dulls faster.  You can see why reducing heat even a little can really increase tool life substantially.

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