The revolutionary design of the end mill was created in the 1940s by Kenneth P. Stanback. Early on in his career he found that there was a gap in the selection of tools available for machining, leading him to dedicate countless hours perfecting the ‘constant spiral’ tapered end mill, which he promptly patented.
Stanback was the reason for many breakthroughs in the cutting tool industry during his lifetime. Through countless designs and trial and errors, he further created ten more different types of end mills which were soon followed by the cutting edge left-handed spiral tapered end mills. For many decades, Stanback was the backbone of his own company and a pioneer of the industry. At his company he indulged in every role possible, with no job too small to capture his attention. His roles included, but weren’t limited to, being the grinder, machine operator, cleaner, and salesman. For Stanback, 60-hour weeks were the norm. By the 1960s, his innovative end mill designs kept rising in popularity, resulting in him extending his business to over 30 countries worldwide ranging from Germany, Japan and all the way to the UK.
Stanback’s designs are still being used and innovated on even to this day. His revolutionary end mill tools are commonly used, nearly 80 years after he first crafted them. The most popular uses for end mills are for precise cutting and machining of parts or products, from jewellery designs, machine components, circuit boards, wood engravings, plastic cutting, and sign making.
Cobalt steel alloys, otherwise commonly referred to as HSS (High Speed Steel), and tungsten carbide are the two main composite materials end mills are crafted from. They are each suited for different uses, with carbide end mills being significantly more rigid and durable compared to HSS. Tungsten carbide is also extremely heat resistant, which is why it’s the preferred material to use when working with hard materials like cast iron, alloys and non-ferrous metals. HSS milling cutters are the cheaper option, however HSS suffers from a shorter life span and speed capacity compared to carbide end mills.