Best cheap 1 flute endmills (for new recriuits)?

Looking to pick up some new 1 flute endmills for the season and recruit training. I’ve used Datron and Amana cutters in the past and had good success with them, however generally on the team machine cutters get crashed or dropped long before dulling, so I’d rather not buy such expensive carbide for general use. We use 1 flute cutters to avoid coolant as much as possible since liquid does serious damage to our workholding solution (MDF, blue tape, superglue). We prefer 1/4in cutters over 1/8in (which would obviously be cheaper) since they allow us to cut faster and have larger gullets to avoid chip welding.

What “cheap” 1 flute cutters has your team found to be the best balance of price and performance?

currently I’m looking at this option:

thanks.

I think Thriftybot has pretty reasonable prices, at least that’s what I’m looking at buying. They are carbide though.
they have 1/8", 4mm, 5mm, 6mm sizes

1 Like

We use 4mm bits from WCP (WCP-0053). We’ve dabbled with some random bits from Ali and Amazon, but none hold up as well from our findings. The WCP bits seem to have very similar quality and life as Onsrud bits.

4, 5, and 6mm options

We bought a bunch of cheap Huhao bits from AliExpress for the new people (AKA, our entire team at the time) to break. Four years later we haven’t seen a reason to switch off them even though we’re breaking far fewer of them.

2 Likes

So not a 1 flute, but I love the lakeshore carbide TAS set of roughers for my 1/4 AL bits. With my teams set up I’m doing 60-80 ipm, 0.125 DOC, 17k RPM.

(I wanted to take it to >100ipm, but our router isn’t stiff enough. I was able to do it with one of their 4 flute fireplugs, but I can’t cool it enough to keep AL fusing from happening after the first few parts)

We use lake shore carbide pretty much exclusively, while they cost a bit more they are amazing tools, the TAS linked here is great but I also want to bring their 3 flute variable flute endmills up as well:

1 Like

I’ve got a set of 2 of those that are on my todo to test… lets see if I get to it before the season starts.

I have been experimenting and have had good results with ThriftyBot’s 4mm endmills on aluminum and some polycarb.

4mm will most likely be our go to this year as the 4mm allows us to cut #10 clearance holes with a “ramp” whereas the 5mm would be almost pure plunge which is not as easy on the cutter.

Because our current workholding on our router is not the greatest we typically will run 3 depths for contouring 1/8" aluminum without coolant at around 16.7IPM. (These are pretty conservative settings I think). I tested cuts as thick as .095" DOC with coolant at 16.7IPM. We typically keep our feedrate lower because we only use z directional clamping work holding. Also spindle speed around 18000rpms, maybe making minor adjustments by ear during cutting.

yeah I want carbide. HSS dies on our machine (and I’ve never even seen a 1 flute HSS endmill).

Curious to hear how you guys are running 3 flute cutters dry, I haven’t been able to run them without at least mist, though maybe at lower sfm it’s doable. We use 1 flute because our router is very floppy and doesn’t have good power below 20k rpm. I use 3 flute cutters for actual machining-type parts on our other machine, but most of what the team needs is 2 or 2.5d parts, where 95% of cutting is just low axial ramping into sheet and thin plate material. We run low axial engagement, high feed toolpaths because the kinda axial loads created by high axial or HEM type strategies are too much for our machine. Also, we need to keep chipload as high as we realistically can at 30k rpm for heat management and cleaning reasons. This kind of toolpath is also easier on our work holding, which is often the weak link in our machining processes.

Typically in aluminum w/ a 1/4" 1 flute we run: 30k rpm, .8mm ramp stepdown, 5200mm/min feed.

@rich.varone lakeshore does make some nice stuff, but honestly, it’s way pricer than we need. Also, any particular reason you prefer to use a cutter with 4d LOC? do you deal with a lot of billet parts? i tend to use the shortest cutter I can get away with for, especially below 10mm diameter.

I am fond of 4mm and 6mm Huhao bits from AliExpress, as well as the 4mm and 6mm bits from Grewin (the old Ozzyboards supplier). Just ask them for what Anand Rajamani got - a 15 pack of 4mm and 15 pack of 6mm was about $125 shipped. I would probably go to 20 4mm and 10 6mm if I had to do it again, but it doeends on what you use the most. The quality of the Grewins that I got was excellent. 1072 used them for machining over the summer and didn’t break a single one, when using my Fusion cutting templates: Machining - Google Drive

The lead time was about 8 days for me to receive them, but 7461 ordered recently and got hit with a 3-week delay due to COVID shutdowns. Overall, definitely recommend them over Huhao due to their reliability. You can also ask for a sharper tip on the 6mm to help with plunging. The 4mm I got came with that and it seems to help.

2 Likes

When we dont’ have our mister setup/on we just coat our parts/tools with a light layer of cutting oiling before starting and everything seems to run well. As for how rigid your machine is I can’t say, what are you using? I will say that we have a bit more leeway as we use a very rigid Tormach 24R.

Agreed that they are pricy and not for everyone, we use various lengths from them depending on what we’re doing, but we do sheet, tube and billet.

1 Like

Not running dry sorry, using a mister.
We also use a 3/4in MDF as a spoil board, and #6 counter sink screws in the part mounting holes as hold-downs. ( we use a #9 drill and do all the part holes before we run any other toolpaths)

1 Like

gotcha. How does that workholding strategy deal with the cutouts on windowed parts? we’ve run into some issues where those get pulled up and jet jammed in such a way they break cutters.

Seconded. Link for anyone interested.
https://www.aliexpress.us/item/2251832615898388.html

I believe these are what’s used in Juan’s video of an Omio knocking out a gearbox in record time.

1 Like

so with multiple parts we make sure to space each part 1.25x-1.75x the cutter width.
on interior cut outs.
95% of the time we use adaptive clear,
4% of the time Ill add an additional hole in the interior contour or space between parts, just to hold it down
1% of the time I forget and shoot a bit of metal across the shop. ( remember to wear safety glasses kids)

2 Likes

It’s cyber Monday and teams have a couple hours to go for this deal.

End Mills

We have used these for the last 2 years. A 4mm x 12mm has lasted the entire season. Well we had 1 “DINK” the first week due to operator error. The 4mm does most of the work. We use the 3.175mm and 2mm at time. Tool diameter is very close but check each one.

1 Like

We are using these for cutting aluminum and they work great. I’ve pushed them well past their recommended feeds and speeds though I am not comfortable letting students push it beyond right now. We got them even cheaper on a Black Friday deal.

I would have gotten the thrifty bot ones but we are in Canada and it was easier to deal with Amazon prime shipping then cross border charges.

1 Like

may I ask why not? is your team operating on an extremely limited budget?