Why Use a Single Flute End Mill?

by Bob There are a lot of strange beasts out there in the cutting tool world, and a lot of physics that are not obvious. For example, many machinists will know that more flutes means more productivity, but that certain materials, like aluminum, require fewer flutes–usually two or three. If that’s the case, when would it ever make sense to use a single flute end mill? Is there a time when the least number of flutes possible is a good idea? In a word, “Yes!” Let’s talk about why. The reason we use fewer flutes in some materials has to do with the behavior of chips inthose materials. Simply put, aluminum creates bigger chips, all other things being equal. This has to do with the way the material curls as well as other factors. The space created by the flutes of the endmill is where the chips have to go as they’re being cut. If there is not enough space relative to the volume of the chips, you’re going to have problems and may wind up with a broken cutter. Therefore, we typically dial back the number of flutes for aluminum because it creates a larger volume of flute space

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