If you work in the tooling industry, or in a role where you engage in industrial milling, you’ll know all about milling cutters. But for everybody else, there’s Prima Tooling’s expert blog to help! Milling cutters are the cornerstone of machine milling, and a vital part of any milling machine. As the name implies, the milling cutter is the specific part of the milling machine that is used to cut, shape, and excavate material from a workpiece to create a desired part or product.

The term “milling cutter” is a broad umbrella name for a huge range of cutting tools used as part of a milling machine. End mills are the standard, and most commonly used, form of milling cutter. So much so, that often the terms are used interchangeably, but they aren’t quite synonymous. To simplify it, you could say that all end mills are milling cutters, but not all milling cutters are end mills!

But end mills are just one form of milling cutter. Countless other types exist, all designed specially to be the ideal tool for a specific milling application. Let’s take a look:

End Mills

As mentioned above, end mills are the most common type of milling cutter. End mills are identifiable by their cutting edges on the end of the cylindrical tool, not just the sides. There are multiple different types of end mills for milling different shaped slots, such as square, ball-nose, and radius end mills. Other types are designed with a specific function in mind, like roughing and finishing end mills, which are designs to maximise material excavation speed at the cost of leaving a rough finish, and to polish off the rough finish to leave a smooth, professional one, respectively.

Slab and Face Mills

Face milling and slab milling, sometimes referred to as peripheral milling, perform very similar tasks. Both are designed to cut away layers of material from a broad, flat workpiece in order to leave a smooth and level surface. The difference is how they achieve this. Slab or peripheral milling is performed by cutting edges around the circumference of the cylinder, which rotates parallel with the workpiece. Face milling, on the other hand, is conducted by rotating the tool perpendicular to the surface, with its face making contact rather than the circumference. Teeth around the edge of a face mill can be used for shaping and removing material, while the face itself is designed to leave a beautiful finish.

These are just a few of the many different shapes, sizes, and styles of milling cutters available on the market today. No matter what milling task you need to complete, there is a milling cutter out there designed with you in mind! You can check out our ranges of milling cutters like carbide end mills or PCD end mills here, or take a browse of our other fantastic collections, such as our compression router cutters, slatwall tooling, and threading taps. If you’re not sure what tool you need, we can help! Get in touch today for our expert advice and guidance.