Tips & tricks for cleaning up aluminium residue from endmill?

Sooo, I pushed my luck a bit too far while experimenting with cutting aluminium (with the #102Z endmill), I got a partial melt before I could stop the job, so I now have a bit of melted aluminium in one flute of this endmill. Does anyone have any advice on how to salvage it with minimal risk of damaging the ZrN coating and/or the flutes ? Some magical household cleaning liquid maybe ? (I have searched a bit and saw the words “lye”, and “pipe cleaning liquid” coming up, but would like to hear about people here)


lye works well. periodically check and do so in open ventilation (outside)
as you mentioned it can be found in a lot of drain cleaners (i.e. Zep)

mentions of other acids, but the fumes can cause flash rust on nearby exposed items.
good rinse and wipe dry and you’re all set.


thanks! I’ll give it a try then.

a bit off topic, but could you share the depth of cut and feed and rpm settings you used?

I’m planning on mucking around with aluminum soon, and just trying to gather as much info as possible first. :slight_smile:

Or, a pointy knife. I picked these chunks out of a 3 flute yesterday.


This cut was a follow-up of this first try that went perfectly fine with:
102Z 1/8" ZrN coated endmill / adaptive clearing toolpath, 10.000 RPM, 762mm/min feed, 0.305mm optimal load, DOC around 0.3"

I then tried increasing the optimal load to 0.4mm, the cut started just fine, but I had mistakenly set my air jet to a lower flow than on the first try, and after a while, I got an accumulation of chips in a deep/corner area, and that’s when I had this melting issue.

I have rerun this job just now, with more air and a little spray of WD40 now and then, and it went perfectly.

Yeah I tried to pick it out with a pointy thing, gently, but it won’t come off and I do not want to force it.

Thanks for the info Julien.

So, rookie question… Is ‘optimal load’ the same thing as ‘chip load’?

Good question, that I had myself since I started using fusion360 like a week ago. Reading around I understood that yes, it is basically the chipload, that fusion tries to keep constant when using an adaptive toolpath. Fusion gurus will probably jump in to explain subleties of optimal load better!

Optimum load is radial width of cut.

Chipload is chip thickness per flute per revolution. Fusion doesn’t take into account chip thinning, this happens when radial cut falls bellow 50% diameter. Use a calculator to determine actual chip thickness

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So is optimal load the size of the bite at the start of entry of the tooth into the material, but differs from chip size since the chip gets thinner and thinner as the tooth moves out of the material ?

Or maybe I should go and do my homework and then come back…

Use a steel pick. Don’t use a tungsten carbide pick.

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Purple degreaser will get anything you can’t mechanically remove. I put a little bit in one of those little endmill boxes and drop the endmill in.

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I have nothing great to add except if a little piece “looks” like it might be easy to grab with a pair of pliers, and your eyesight is poor like mine, don’t just “gopher it!”… Don’t ask me how I know that doesn’t work, meh :thinking:


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It does not look like I’ll be able to use a pick, chemical it is. Thanks for the various tips.

@Jeff: since I obviously did not get that optimal load versus chipload thing right, this video clarified the chip thinning for me:

(thank you @Vince for the clarification)
Time for me to give a second look at G-Wizard I guess.

Thanks Julien.

I’m not going to be doing any production runs or even a lot of metal work, so I’ll probably end up using the formulas and figuring out the feeds/speeds/DOC/stepover stuff manually.
Just can’t justify the cost of g-wizard when the CNC stuff is simply a playground for me. :slight_smile:

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