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CNC Applications

Tooling for Machining Centers

Cutting Tools
Most machining
centers use some
form of HSS or
carbide insert endmill
as the basic cutting
Insert endmills cut
many times faster
than HSS, but the
HSS endmills leave a
better finish when
side cutting.
Photo courtesy ISCAR.

Cutting Tools (continued)

Facemills flatten large
surfaces quickly and with
an excellent finish. Notice
the engine block being
finished in one pass with a
large cutter.
Photo courtesy ISCAR.

Cutting Tools (continued)

Ball endmills (both HSS and insert)
are used for a variety of profiling
operations such as the mold shown
in the picture.

Slitting and side cutters are used

when deep, narrow slots must be
Photos courtesy ISCAR.

Milling Feed Direction

Remember, all CNC machines are equipped
with ball screws to minimize slop when
changing feed directions. The other
advantage to ball screws is they allow climb
milling instead of conventional milling as
done on most manual machines.
Climb milling has many advantages including
better surface finish, longer tool life, and the
cutter deflects away from the work rather
than into it.
Always climb mill on a CNC machining

Drills, Taps, and Reamers

Common HSS tools such as drills,
taps, and reamers are commonly
used on CNC machining centers.
Note that a spot drill is used instead
of a centerdrill. Also, spiral point or
gun taps are used for through holes
and spiral flute for blind holes. Rarely
are hand taps used on a machining
Drawings courtesy Precision Twist Drill.

Tool Holders
All cutting tools must be held in a holder that fits in the spindle.
These include end mill holders (shown), collet holders, face mill
adapters, etc.
Most machines in the USA use a CAT taper which is a modified
NST 30, 40, or 50 taper that uses a pull stud and a groove in
the flange. The machine pulls on the pull stud to hold the holder
in the spindle, and the groove in the flange gives the automatic
tool changer something to hold onto.
HSK tool holders were designed a number of years ago as an
improvement to CAT tapers, but they are gaining acceptance
Photo courtesy Fitz-Rite

The gage length shown in the

drawing is entered in the machine
control as the tool length. The
machine then compensates for the

Fixtures include anything that holds the work
on the machining center table.
Holding parts on a machining center tends to
be much more difficult than on a turning
The simplest fixture is just a vise as shown in
the top photo.
The next photo shows a double vise with
machinable jaws to hold odd shaped pieces.
The tombstone shown in the lower photo has
a double vise on each face for use on a four
or five axis machining center.
Photos courtesy Kurt Manufacturing.

More Fixtures
When parts cant be held in a vise, a custom
fixture must be used. Fixtures for high
production parts are often custom designed
and manufactured at great expense.
For small runs of odd-shaped parts, many
manufacturers have turned to modular
fixturing. As shown in the upper drawing,
modular fixturing consists of many precision
ground pieces that fit together to hold all sorts
of parts as shown in the lower photo.
Drawing and photo courtesy Bluco.