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International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 695–700

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Influence of the number of inserts for tool life evaluation
in face milling of steels
´ .R. Machado a, M.B. Da Silva a, E.O. Ezugwu b,, J. Bonney b
A. Richetti a, A
a

Machining Research and Education Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering Faculty, Federal University of Uberlaˆndia, Uberlaˆndia, MG, Brazil
b
Machining Research Centre, Faculty of Engineering, Science and Technology, South Bank University, 103 Borough Road,
London SE1 0AA, UK
Received 28 January 2003; accepted 5 February 2004

Abstract
Tool life tests are often employed to verify the behaviour of one or more inserts in a cutter in order to optimise machining productivity and minimise cost. In milling process, such tests are expensive and require many of tools and a lot of work material to
achieve any of the stipulated tool rejection criterion in any of the inserts. In practice, tool life tests are usually carried out using
only one or few edges in a face milling cutter in order to minimise cost. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of the
number of tools used in face milling operation and how they relate to the establishment of tool life under specified cutting
conditions. Flank wear curves were evaluated for AISI 1045 and 8640 steels using 1, 2, 3 and 6 inserts in a face milling cutter.
Test results show that reduction in the number of inserts in the milling cutter led to a reduction in the amount of material
removed and also tend to increase tool life when machining at the same feed per tooth. Results obtained using reduced number of
inserts in a milling cutter should only be used for comparison between two or more conditions and should not be used to establish
tool life.
# 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Machinability tests; Face milling; Tool life; Cutting temperature; Volume of material removed

1. Introduction
The best machining conditions depend on the cutting
tool, workpiece, machine tool, cutting fluids, and cutting parameters, thus machinability trials are therefore
essential. This selection process is justified by the problem encountered in choosing from a large number of
commercially available tools. Recommendations from
manufacturers should only be used as a guide since
better conditions may be found for other tools and cutting parameters. Machinability trials on each application are of major importance due to the economic
benefits to be gained by manufacturing industries that
carry out large amount of machining operations [1].
The use of indexable inserts in face milling operation
is now very common. Commercially available milling
cutters are variable and comprise 4, 6, 8, 10, 64 or 

Corresponding author. Fax: +44-20-7815-7681.
E-mail address: ezugwueo@sbu.ac.uk (E.O. Ezugwu).

0890-6955/$ - see front matter # 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.ijmachtools.2004.02.007

more inserts per cutter. The cost of machining trials to
determine acceptable tool life is significant especially
when a large number of inserts per cutter are used. The
increased cost is not only due to the number of inserts
used but mainly because of the large amount of
material required to reach any of the tool rejection criterion for one of the inserts. Cost of the tool life trials
becomes more significant when expensive materials are
evaluated, e.g. titanium and nickel alloys, stainless
steels, composites, etc. [2].
The use of an alternative technique for tool life trials
in milling operation can therefore be justified by the
high cost of conventional trials. In practice, most of
the tool evaluation trials are carried out with reduced
number of inserts than the capacity of the milling cutter while maintaining the same feed per tooth for the
full capacity cutter. This is done to simulate a real
machining condition, where the cutter has all the
required number of inserts but, at the same time,
reducing the cost to an acceptable level [2,3]. There are,

A schematic illustration of the cutter position during v machining is given in Fig. Figs. Cemented carbide inserts with ISO designation SPUN 12 03 08 v ao ¼ 9 v ks ¼ 7 v vr ¼ 75 v These tests were carried out with 1.11 Bal. Experimental procedure AISI 1045 steel with average hardness of 229 HB (square section bar of 76:2  76:2  500 mm) and AISI 8640 steel with average hardness of 299 HB (square section bar of 110  110  490 mm) were machined on a CNC milling machine tool with 22 HP. 0. 3 (equally spaced at 120 ) and six inserts in the cutter at cutting speeds of 300. 3–8..01 mm. for six insert cutter. The different flank wear rate/progression for 1. The final geometry of the inserts during machining are: v v v v co ¼ 9 ao ¼ 20 ks ¼ 17 vr ¼ 45 For AISI 8640 steel. 325 and 350 m/min and feed per tooth of 0.038 0. A 90 exiting angle was v obtained. 2 (equally spaced v v at 180 ). The AISI 8640 steel was machined with an 80 mm diameter cutter also with a capacity for six inserts. Flank wear (VB) was recorded at various intervals during machining until the 0. 3 and 6 inserts in the cutter is clearly demonstrated in Figs. three times greater than for two insert cutter and six times greater than for one insert cutter. Combination of these parameters gave 36 tests in total. 1. This behaviour is probably a result of a combination of two thermal effects. 2 v v (equally spaced at 180 ).150 mm. The final geometry of the inserts during machining are: Nomenclature AISI HB VB Vf vr ks fz HP Vc ao co co ¼ 2 American Iron and Steel Institute hardness Brinell flank wear (mm) feed rate (mm/min) entry angle (degree) back rake angle (degree) feed per tooth (mm) horse power cutting speed (m/min) clearance angle (degree) rake angle (degree) however. A constant feed per tooth (fz) was used for all the milling trials irrespective of the number of inserts in the cutter. 2.5]. mechanical fatigue and thermal crack formation are not expected to exhibit similar behaviour with a real milling operation [4.075. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 695–700 and a P30 substrate were used. The AISI 1045 steel was machined with a 100 mm diameter cutter with capacity for six inserts. in a first stage by varying the number of inserts in the cutter. impact stress.0 mm was used in all the machining trials. 3–8 show the maximum flank wear curves at various cutting conditions. The first is the Table 1 Chemical composition of AISI 1045 steel (wt%) C Si Mn P S Cr Ni Mo Al Cu Fe 0. A constant depth of cut of 1. Richetti et al.25 0.03 0. respectively. This paper investigates the influence of the number of inserts for tool life evaluation in face milling of steels with uncoated and coated tools. The acceptable radial deviation was 0. This is ensured by adjusting the feed velocity relative to the number of tools. 2. The wear mechanisms. i. some restrictions related to the acceptance of these test results since the dynamics of the milling process would completely change with variation in the number of inserts in the cutter.032 0. The chemical compositions of AISI 1045 and AISI 8640 steels are given in Tables 1 and 2.7 mm tool rejection criterion was reached in any of the inserts tested. with v an insert exiting angle of approximately 40 .125 mm. This microscope consist of a moving support to the cutter and assembled on an XY coordinates table controlled by a dial indicator. cutting speed and feed per tooth.12 0. 3. Results and discussions Flank wear curves were evaluated for AISI 1045 steel. Coated carbide inserts of ISO designation SEMN 12 04 AZ class with P45 and M35 substrates were used.100 and 0. The position of the inserts was verified using a dial indicator.48 0.019 0. tests were carried out with 1. out of the critical range (45+20 ) where the foot forming phenomenon cause tool damage [1]. the feed velocity was twice more than for three insert cutter.09 0. 3 (equally spaced at 120 ) and six inserts in the cutter at a cutting speed of 200 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. Flank wear was recorded at 40 times magnification with a microscope that allows the measurement without removing the inserts from the milling cutter. This combination involved only four tests which were used to verify results obtained when machining AISI 1045 steel. 2. assuming that cutting temperature increases with the number of inserts in the milling cutter.696 A.e. . A schematic illustration of the cutter is shown in Fig.67 0.

47 0.26 0. 2. Fig. reduction in the strength of the workpiece associated with temperature.014 0.019 0. Analysis of the curves in Fig. In both cases. Flank wear curves for AISI 1045 steel when machining at a speed of 325 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. Richetti et al. 6.43 0. Fig. 4. The generation of higher tool temperatures significantly reduces tool life as a result of thermally activated wear mechanisms.A. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 695–700 697 Table 2 Chemical composition of AISI 8640 (wt%) C Si Mn P S Cr Ni Mo Al Cu Fe 0. 5.47 0.81 0.09 Bal.014 0.100 mm.19 0. 1. the shortest tool life was always obtained with six inserts in the cutter. Flank wear curves for AISI 1045 steel when machining at a speed of 300 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. 3. Flank wear curves for AISI 1045 steel when machining at a speed of 300 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. Schematic illustration of cutter position when machining AISI 1045 steel. Fig.125 mm. which facilitate the machining operation and the second is the thermally related wear mechanism(s) that tend to lower tool life. Flank wear curves for AISI 1045 steel when machining at a speed of 325 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. Schematic illustration of the cutter position when machining AISI 8640 steel.100 mm. Fig. . This situation enable machining of the material with higher frequency and the generation of higher temperatures in the workpiece due to the heat generated by each tool to facilitate the cutting Fig.075 mm. process.

2) 3.5 (98.2) 9.7 (92. the adjusted feed velocity is lower.7 (79. The lower cutting temperature will minimise thermally activated wear mechanisms during machining.1) 4.2 (96) 1. In this case. 9.2) 4 (63.8 (57.4) .4) 8. 7.100) 300 (0. the wear reduction effect associated with reduction in cutting temperature was greater than retention of the strength of the work material.4) 3 (142.8 (107. Furthermore. suggesting that the thermally activated wear mechanisms were always present Table 3 Tool life and volume of material removed when face milling AISI 1045 steel Machining conditions Vc (m/min) fz (mm) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 300 (0. This will also lead to very minimum (if any) reduction in the strength of the work material.3 (82.3 (155. Fig.125 mm.3 (91.5) 9 (98.8 (98. thus promoting longer tool life.4) 2 (102) 1.5 (95. contributing to maintaining the workpiece temperature at lower levels. 4 and 8).7 (69.075) 350 (0.9) 5 (118. A comparison of the results using the same feed per tooth and different cutting speeds highlight the effect of cutting temperature (e.125) Tool life (min) for VB ¼ 0:7 mm (volume of removed material (cm3) for VB ¼ 0:7 mm) Cutter with 1 insert Cutter with 2 inserts Cutter with 3 inserts Cutter with 6 inserts 12. 3 and 6 as well as Figs.3 (117.7) 4 (42. Figs.1 mm.6 (102) 5 (59.698 A.9) 3. This indicates that the thermally activated wear mechanisms commence after exceeding a critical cutting speed.2) 2.5 (29.2 (113.6) 4. 3–8 indicates that machining with six inserts in the cutter gave higher tool wear that can be attributed to higher cutting temperatures generated during machining relative to machining with cutters with fewer inserts. Fig.g.3 (141) 2.3) 5.2) 4 (118. Richetti et al.5 (51.8 (71.2) 2.2) 4.4) 3.2) 4. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 695–700 Fig.100) 350 (0.7) 5.125) 325 (0.2) 8 (47. 3 and 6 inserts. 8. Flank wear curves for AISI 1045 steel when machining at a speed of 350 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. For milling cutters containing 2. Figs.8 (38.075) 325 (0.5 (147. resulting in a lower cutting temperature in comparison with other cutters tested.5 (69) 4 (51) 3 (51) 1.125) 350 (0. Flank wear curves for AISI 1045 steel when machining at a speed of 350 m/min and a feed per tooth of 0. reduction of tool life at higher cutting speeds is more gradual.075) 300 (0. Tool life decreased considerably at higher cutting speed when machining with a cutter containing only one insert.2) 6.2) 5 (31. Length of cut for 1 (a) and 6 (b) inserts in the cutter in one rotation.8 (102.6) 2. The longest tool life obtained when machining with the one insert cutter may be associated with the shortest active cycle of the cutter relative to the idle cycle (smaller cutting frequency).100) 325 (0.4) 2 (63.3) 6.3) 12.3) 5.

prolonged machining with more inserts in the cutter tend to ensure that the work material remains hot. 9. fz ¼ and (d) 6 inserts 0:150 mm and Vf ¼ 358 mm=min) (Vc ¼ 200 m=min. The flank wear curves when machining AISI 8640 steel (Fig. 10a–d) presented a 699 Fig. the wear progression for each insert was evaluated and the volume of material removed until tool rejection for one of the tools was determined. (b) 2 inserts (Vc ¼ 200 m=min. however. 2. It should. Further analysis of the material removed per tooth shows that the amount of material removed per tool decreases with increasing number of inserts in the cutter. be noted that some tests did not present coherent results due probably to the random fracturing of the cutting edge. The volume of removed material during machining is also affected by the number of inserts in the milling cutter.A. tests were carried out with AISI 8640 steel using 1. In order to validate these results. Flank wear recorded when machining AISI 8640 steel with (a) 1 insert (Vc ¼ 200 m=min. . fz ¼ 0:150 mm and Vf ¼ 716 mm=min). These promote an increase in the thermal gradient which tend to lower tool life as thermal cracks generation rate increases [7]. Milling operations. In these tests. was greater than its effect in lowering tool life. This is evident from the fracture observed in many of the worn tool edges. however. This will consequently lead to tool embrittlement. Table 3 also shows that in spite of the lower tool life obtained when machining with more inserts in the cutter. The use of higher feed velocities when machining with more inserts in the cutter to maintain the same feed per tooth suggests a proportional increase in the length of cut as shown schematically in Fig. thereby decreasing its shear strength and consequently facilitating the cutting process. Table 3 shows results of tool life and volume of material removed when face milling AISI 1045 steel under various machining conditions. It has been reported that increase in cutting speed and feed per tooth accelerate thermally activated wear mechanisms in addition to generating more intense mechanical impact [6]. Thermal cracks were also observed on the worn tools due perhaps to thermal fatigue mechanism. Furthermore. to maintain the same feed per tooth. 10. more materials were removed at the same cutting time when machining at higher speeds despite the effect of the more adverse thermally activated wear mechanisms. present more complexity than the analysis of tool wear and heating of the workpiece during machining. which promote premature fracture of the insert edges during machining. Tool life tends to decrease with increasing cutting speed and feed per tooth. Richetti et al. the volume of material removed increased with more inserts in the cutter. In fact. fz ¼ 0:150 mm and Vf ¼ 119 mm=min). (c) 3 inserts (Vc ¼ 200 m=min. although the total volume of material removed tend to increase. independent of cutting speed. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 695–700 because of the greater cutting frequency. This increase in the length of cut could contribute to lowering tool life. This suggests that the effect of increasing the feed velocity. 3 and 6 inserts in an 80 mm diameter cutter. which adversely affect tool performance. fz ¼ 0:150 mm and Vf ¼ 239 mm=min).

4 239 4. Eldem. VI Congresso Nacional de Ingenieria Mecanica. Borges. The economic viability of these alternative tests must be analysed prior to commencement.B.18 48. [3] J. Machinability experiments with inserts less than the full capacity must not be used to determine tool life as they do not reproduce the real machining conditions.J. All the machining data obtained indicate that the use of fewer inserts in a cutter for machinability trials should be used only for comparison of two or more machining conditions. This failure mode is associated with thermal cracks (fatigue cracks). 12–15 December. Results from the milling test using lesser number of inserts than the cutter capacity should be used as comparison index of the machinability between two or more machining conditions.C. Thoors. .074 Volume of removed material (cm3) Vf (mm/min) 119 4. Increasing the feed rate to maintain the same feed per tooth increases the cutting temperatures. Results obtained when machining AISI 8640 steel showed similar trend to those obtained when machining AISI 1045 steel.M. Wear 179 (1994) 83–88. Flank wear rate tends to increase when milling with more inserts in the cutter due to higher cutting temperatures generated. CNPq and FAPEMIG for financial support. The Winter Annual Meeting of ASME. Machado.2 mm increased the cutting forces and temperatures as well as the wear rates.700 A. In this flank wear region. cutting forces and temperatures caused by the friction between the clearance face and the workpiece surface did not present significant influence on the wear process.e. Annals of CIRP 33 (1) (1984) 47–50. New Orleans. pp. Brazil. M. References [1] A. Acknowledgements The authors are grateful for the technical support from Mr. Fracture of the cutting edge accelerated the wear rate in some of the tests. thus accelerating wear. XIII COBEM—Congresso Brasileiro de Engenharia Mecaˆnica. 4. pp. 1979. Panato.R. This behaviour was not observed when machining AISI 1045 steel. Precision Engineering. E. Shan. tool life decreased and the volume of removed material increased when machining with more inserts in the cutter (Table 4). MG.S.72 1. . 1984. The total volume of material removed tends to increase with the number of inserts in the cutter for the same machining time. 4. Tool life in interrupted turning operations.42 VB ¼ 0:7 mm 60. (CD-ROM). Fresamento de Superligas Constituı´das de Alta Percentagem de Nı´quel e Outros Elementos. (in Portuguese). Determination of tool life can only be effectively carried out under the same real conditions because the change in the number of inserts in the cutter can com- Table 4 Volume of removed material and tool lives recorded when machining AISI 8640 steel with various number of inserts in the cutter at Vc ¼ 200 m=min and fz ¼ 0:15 mm Cutter with Cutter with Cutter with Cutter with 1 insert 2 inserts 3 inserts 6 inserts Tool life for 9. Richetti et al. Bohes. [4] H. [5] J. Israel Journal of Technology 14 (1976) 172–178. [7] S. resulting in fracture under thermal and mechanical impacts encountered in an intermittent machining operation. Barrow. Belo Horizonte.S. Dynamics of high speed milling. A.. 2. Neto. Da Silva. USA. Reginaldo Ferreira de Souza and to CAPES. H. R.2 mm in most of the tests. Bhatia. Pekelharing. IPC Business Press. Conclusions 1.124 358 716 pletely alter the wear conditions and the anticipated results from such exercise. [6] S. / International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 44 (2004) 695–700 uniform and steady growth region from zero up to 0. Tlusty. Discrepancies observed in the volume of removed material in Table 4 were probably caused by the fracture of the cutting edge. Chandrasekaran. Tribology in interrupted machining: role of interruption cycle and work material. Pandey. 148–152.174 72. These cracks embrittle the cutting tool. Chile. LA. 3. Wear values in excess of 0. promoted by the cyclic variation of the tool temperature during machining. Efeito do Nu´mero de Ferramentas Utilizado nos Testes de Usinabilidade no Processo de Fresamento. H. i. pp. This could be due to the use of coated cemented carbide which gave improved wear resistance. hence the reduced wear at the initial stage of milling. 1994.D. 101–126. Failure of Cemented Carbide Tools in Intermittent Cutting. 9–14 December. [2] L. P.87 89. 1995. G. 365–370.