1. Technical Field of the Invention
In general, the present invention relates to machining of a workpiece, More particularly, the present invention relates to end-mill tools for milling a workpiece and a related method.
Rotary cutting end-mill tools are used for various machining operations on workpieces. Such machine operations are generically referred to as milling operations and include the forming of slots, keyways, pockets, and the like. Several considerations related to end-mill tool design include time for completing a machining operation, amount of material removed in a cut, quality of the cut, and wear on the tool itself during the milling operation.
The various machining operations performed with an end-mill tool can be performed in a “roughing” mode (rough cutting) and a “finishing” mode (finishing cutting). During roughing, material is removed from a workpiece at a relatively high rate (e.g., depth of cut), but with a relatively rough surface finish. Finishing involves the removal of material from a workpiece at a relatively low rate, but with a relatively smooth surface finish. Generally, these two operations (roughing and finishing) are antithetical to one another, and require two operations with two different end-mills.
End-mill tools are formed from materials such as tungsten carbide, high speed steel, ceramic, and other advanced materials and coatings and typically include a “shank” portion, a “body” portion and a “point”. The shank portion is located towards one end of the end-mill tool and is generally cylindrical (but may be tapered) for engagement by a spindle of a milling machine. In use, the milling machine rotatably drives the end-mill tool about its longitudinal axis. The body portion of the end-mill tool is located between the shank and the point. The point is formed at an opposite end of the tool from the shank portion, and typically includes one or more cutting edges.
To manufacture an end-mill tool, a grinder is typically used to grind a flute face and a corresponding cutting edge on the body of the end-mill tool. The grind (grinding operation) typically starts from a position adjacent an end of the body portion and continues to a point at or near the interface of the body portion and the shank portion, commonly referred to as an “inception location”. The grind forms a desired helical flute face and/or helical cutting edge. Prior art end-mills typically have continuous helical flutes with continuous cutting edges helically extending from the inception location to the point (or vice-versa). The flutes function primarily for chip removal, in a manner similar to the helical flutes found on an ordinary drill bit.