Drill bits and end mills are very similar tools, especially to a layperson not involved in the tooling industry. But there are some significant differences that you may be unaware of in the use and function of end mills and drill bits. The tasks they can be used to perform can vary a lot, and each can perform jobs that the other cannot. The first, most visible difference that most people notice is simply that end mills are not present in our homes, while drill bits are a common sight for the DIY enthusiast. This is because end mills are almost exclusively used for industrial machining purposes, not domestic DIY and handiwork. Read on to see some of the further differences between drill bits and end mills:
Drill bits are common in domestic settings and most know that their usage is very linear. They can be used to bore holes in a straight line in any direction, but cannot be used in any kind of lateral motion. So they cannot be used to create contours or curves, or any fine detailing in the material.
Drill bits eject material via the spiral flutes that line its cylinder, allowing it to continue drilling without needing to clear the hole of drilled material. Only diamond-coated drill bits, which are commonly used to widen pre-drilled holes, do not have flutes cut into their sides. Drill bits can be used on handheld drills, which has given them their prevalence in domestic settings. On the other hand, end mills can only be used on industrial CNC machines.
End mills, or milling cutters, operate in a very similar fashion to drill bits, rotating quickly to cut and excavate material from a desired area. But this is where the similarities end. End mills can operate in any direction, and so can be used to finely shape material with curves, contours, and any number of other detailing. End mills also have flutes, but can come with an number of them for different purposes. The more flutes an end mill has, the less space it has to eject material, but the finer the finish it leaves on the material. End mills come in a variety of shapes and sizes for a range of industrial tasks, and can be create from a range of materials. Carbide end mills have some of the highest temperate and pressure resistance on the market today.