June 3, 2019

Understanding Indexable Milling Tools on MachiningCloud

Mills or milling cutters on MachiningCloud can be sorted into two high-level categories, solid or indexable. What makes a mill “indexable” is the use of inserts that operate as the actual cutting edge of the tool. Any contact with the work piece occurs exclusively at the insert. The main advantage of indexable mills is that they are cost-effective relative to the use of solid mills. When a solid mill becomes dulled, it must be replaced or re-sharpened. On the other hand, when an insert becomes dulled, it can be rotated several times before a replacement is needed. An indexable mill can house inserts of varying grades, increasing the application of a single mill where a variety of solid mills would be necessary. It is far more economical to manufacturer a high-quality insert than it is to produce a solid mill.

Indexable inserts are generally composed of a substrate and coating which together produce a composite that features a hardness comparable to a diamond. Indexable inserts come in a variety of grades and geometries, further enabling the machinist to cut a wide range of materials for various applications.

The grade of an indexable insert describes pertinent characteristics of the substrate and coating such as the hardness, bending strength, thermal conductivity and thermal expansion of the component. Depending on the application, regarding factors such as work material and cutting speed, a specific grade is recommended. Grades will be represented by a unique character containing alpha and numeric values, typically displayed by manufacturers in the product name or description. One example of a grade is NX2525 which is recommended for high speed milling of steel or cast iron, ranging between 150 – 350 meters per min (m/min).

Today, the variety of indexable milling cutters and inserts is so vast, any iteration of a solid mill likely exists as indexable. Two of the most common types of milling cutters are the end mill and the face cutting mill. An end mill has a cylindrical shank and two cutting edges: its face, which lies parallel to the work piece and its peripheral edge, which lies perpendicular to the work piece surface. With the use of both cutting edges, the end mill offers a large range of applications such as shoulder milling, slotting, drilling and contoured surface milling. An example of a commonly used indexable end mill is the Ball Nose type which has an S-shaped cutting edge used for high precision surface finishing. Of course, this iteration can be found in both indexable and solid forms.

Surface face cutters differ from end mills in that they do not use their peripheral edge for cutting, and the surface edge of the work piece is always perpendicular to the tool shank or radius of rotation. Generally, surface face milling cutters are utilized for removing layers of material from a large, flat surface area. By installing inserts of varying geometries and grades to a surface milling cutter, the number of operations, materials and cutting speeds of the tool increase drastically.

Search for Indexable Milling Tools & Inserts

There are very few solid surface milling cutters in use today because of how impactful the utilization of indexable inserts is on the tool’s life, application and affordability. As a result, there are now an array of tooling types and inserts for indexable milling available from various brands.

MachiningCloud makes it easy to research indexable milling tools and inserts for CAM programming, saving countless hours sorting through catalogs and websites from various manufacturers. To search for indexable milling tools on MachiningCloud, perform the following:

1. In MachiningCloud Home, choose a default manufacturer catalog by selecting the active brand logo in the top right corner. In this example, we’ll choose WIDIA.

2. From the WIDIA catalog’s available tooling options, select Indexable Milling.

3. Now select the type of milling operation that you wish to perform. We’ll choose Face Mills.

4. Continue to use the pictured catalog selections to find the type of milling tool products and inserts that you wish to employ. Alternatively, use MachiningCloud’s search filters to narrow down all available possibilities instantly.

5. MachiningCloud offers instant access to the most up-to-date tooling catalogs from popular brands, allowing you to save time and fast track CAM programming workflows. Quickly find the indexable milling tools and inserts that you need for the job, download 3D assembly models, and export your data to virtually any CAM application.


Finding Tooling Inserts According to Your Application Needs

MachiningCloud offers concise, accurate and up-to-date tooling data on over one million parts and 3D models. By using search filters, you can find indexable milling tools and milling inserts that match your job requirements. More importantly, quickly build indexable milling tool assemblies, review product availability, and efficiently improve tooling research workflows across the entire shop floor.

Download MachiningCloud at and learn how to get started accessing rich product data from leading cutting tool brands.

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