HSS vs. carbide: cutting acrylic, life expectancy

I mostly cut acrylic. I like and use a single flute, 3/16" diameter HSS end milll (Amana 15621). I tend to get around 2000 inches of cutting out of it. New bits start out cutting clean & quiet, then cut quality gradually decreases until it starts struggling… chattering and melting material. This might not be simple to answer, but could a change to a carbide end mill significantly increase life expectancy? The HSS mills are around $8 each so it’s no big deal to burn through them, but I’d pay more if I could hold the cut quality for longer and get more use out of it.

Has anybody been through this - any opinions to share?

PS - I’ve been thinking a lot about adding the Beaver HDZ. I don’t do much aluminum but I do some & it’ll help there, but i also fell like the rigidity will help a lot with acrylic too, and maybe this will also help with tool life no matter what I use. Yes? Talk me into it :wink:

Carbide and tooling with coatings is supposed to last longer, at least in the industrial machines — if you have things dialed in as you say, it’s probably a valid test, and you can sacrifice, buying some endmills to test and report back.

I use a 2.5mm single flute carbide bit that someone on Facebook recommended years ago. I just recently broke the first one but ran it for a long time cutting cast acrylic probably 20ish hours at 40-50 in/min. I can’t find the bit online now but I can say that cleaning the bit with simple green if it gets any tape residue also helps keep the cut clean.

This is not the same bit but looks very similar to what i am using.

I can’t share what i have been doing but if I can ever get the LLC completed i will be producing lots more and trying to sell them before someone knocks off the idea.

I found this one in the Harvey toolimage catalog. I have been eyeing this one in the past but never tried it. Product #51216 $32

1 Like

I used an Onsrud single flute up for my 3/8" cast acrylic. They are pricey but like anything else quality costs more $$$$$

1 Like

carbide may increase life quality especially coated, but keep in mind they become microscopically ‘dull’ once a layer of most coatings are applied. the ground edge can be rounded over by the coating

most guys cutting plastic will suggest super sharp (new) HSS uncoated bits.

I would stick with the bits since they’re cost effective and perhaps play with the feeds and speeds a bit. Onsrud makes some great items in HSS.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.