CNC machines are vastly versatile, mainly due to the range of cutting tools that can be used to achieve varying operations. From end mills to reamers, allowing CNC machines to perform not only various cuts, but also precision machining.

Lets look at some of the cutting tools used in CNC machining, though there are many more options that are not mentioned.

What is a cutting tool – A cutting tool is what is used to perform different operations on a solid piece of material. That material can be steel, wood, composites or even foam. The tool is then fitted to the spindle in a CNC machine, which then follows a programme to manufacture the the desired cut.

The CNC tool rotates at high speed and any material which is cut is then ejected away from the workpiece.

CNC machine cutting tools can be produced with a variety of cutting flutes, which are the formation of cutting grooves that form the cutting edges of the tool, any material cut from the workpiece travel down the flutes and are removed away from the machining process.

The material being cut usually dictates the number of flutes on a cutting tool. Softer materials would need less flutes, with a harder material being machined with an increased speed would best suit more cutting flutes.

Any cutting tool, whether that be a Router tool or a Milling cutter, must be manufactured with a cutting edge made from a harder material than the workpiece. At Prima tooling we manufacture and supply cutting tools made from;

High-speed steel – The more expensive HSS is harder and tougher than carbon steel thanks to its blend of chromium, tungsten and molybdenum.

Carbide – Usually sintered with another metal like titanium, carbide tools are wear-resistant and heat-resistant, providing an excellent surface finish.

Cutting tool coatings

Cutting tool function can also be adjusted with a coating over the main material. Tool coatings are available on Carbide and HSS tools to harden the cutting tools, increase the lifespan or allow the tool to be run at faster speeds.

Some examples of tool coating are;- Titanium Nitride (TiN), Titanium Carbo-Nitride (TiCN), Super-life Titanium Nitride (Al-TiN), Chromium Nitride (CrN)