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The first and best resource for anyone with a mini CNC mill is having a copy of the Machinery’s Handbook. Considered the “Bible for machinists”, this in depth book will answer all your questions. Its big and scary looking with an over load of information, but don’t be deterred.
The best way to use the Machinery’s Handbook is to look up just exactly what you need to know and study that section. For our example it would be the Feeds and Speeds section.
It will cover all the calculations used to come up with proper feeds and speeds, but more importantly, it will tell you what the recommended chip loads are for certain materials with certain cutter types.
Knowing what the correct chip load is and actually setting your mini CNC mill or manual mill to achieve that chip load are two different tasks.
Thankfully there are a few different ways to do this. Yes, the Machinery’s Handbook discusses this as well, but there are also a few other resources that will help you figure this out.
For example, if you use a CAM software to create tool paths for your CNC mill then the software will tell you what your chip load is. Below is an example of the feeds and speeds section in HSM Works cam software:
This is nice because as you change the different variables such as rpm, number of flutes and cutting feed rate it automatically recalculates the chip load for you. Once you have the correct chip load and have made sure the rpm and feed rates make sense for your machine, you can save the settings for the cutter and you are good to go.
If you don’t have CAM software, then you can use an online feeds and speeds calculator such as the one found at this link: http://www.custompartnet.com/calculator/milling-speed-and-feed
Whenever using calculators on a CAM software or online it is always your responsibility to make sure the feeds and speeds make sense for your mill.
The calculator does not know the limitations of your milling machine so it is important to make sure that the settings match the ability of your system.
I hope this article helped you better understand one of the many “small things” that have a huge impact when machining on your mini CNC mill or benchtop mill. This goes for 3, 4 and 5-axis CNC machining applications as well.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for our next blog post.
Have a great week!
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