Small precision parts with miniaturized features are increasingly used in components such as sensors, micro-medical devices, micro-fuel cells, and others. Mechanical micromachining processes, e.g., turning, drilling, milling and grinding are often used for fabrication of miniaturized components. The small micro-tools (50 μm to 500 μm diameter) used in micromachining limit the surface speeds achieved at the cutting point, unless the rotational speeds are substantially increased. Although the cutting speeds increase to 240 m/min with larger diameter tools (e.g., 500 μm) when using the highest available spindle speed of 150,000 rpm, the cutting speed with the smaller 50 μm tools is limited to 24 m/min. This low cutting speed at the tool tip is much smaller than the speeds required for efficient cutting. For example, in macro-milling of aluminum alloys the recommended speed is on the order of 60–200 m/min. The use of low cutting speeds limits the production rate, increases tool wear and tendency for burr formation, and limits the degree of dimensional tolerance and precision that can be achieved. The purpose of the present paper is to provide preliminary results that show the feasibility of ultra high-speed micro-milling of an aluminum alloy with respect to surface quality and burr formation. A new ultra high-speed spindle was used for micro-milling of an aluminum alloy with micro-end-mills ranging in diameter from 51 μm to 305 μm. Straight channels were machined to obtain an array of square patterns on the surface. High surface cutting speeds up to 340 m/min were achieved at 350,000 rpm. Inspection of the machined surfaces indicated that edge quality and burr formation tendency are related to the undeformed chip thickness, and therefore the cutting speed and feed rate. The quantity of burrs observed on the cut surfaces was generally small, and therefore, the burr types were not systematically determined. Cutting with the 305 μm tool at a cutting speed of 150 m/min produced an excellent cut quality using a chip thickness of 0.13 μm. However, the cut quality deteriorated as the chip thickness was decreased to 0.06 μm by increasing the cutting speed to 340 mm/min. This result is consistent with published data that show the dependence of bur formation on ratio of chip thickness to tool tip radius. The channel widths were also measured and the width of channels cut with the small diameter tools became larger than the tool diameter at higher speeds. The dependence of the channel widths on rotational speed and the fact that a similar variation was not observed for larger diameter tools, suggested that this phenomena is related to dynamic run-out of the tool tip, which increases the channel width at higher speeds.

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