End mills are the cutting tools used for milling with your CNC router. Similar to drill bits, they are available in a wide range of sizes, types and materials. If the end mill is fluted, this means that the chips caused by the cutting process will gather in the spaces between the flutes as they are cutting. If you are cutting a material that creates big chips, such as aluminum, it makes sense to use an end mill with fewer flutes, so that there is enough space for the volume of the chips. The two most popular types of fluted mills are 2-flute mills and 4-flute mills.
End mills with two flutes are most commonly used for creating grooves or slots. This type of mill is also known as a plunge mill, because it can drive vertically into the workpiece. The cutting end of the bit has two blades, of unequal lengths. One goes directly across the middle, allowing the end mill to plunge straight into the workpiece beneath it. A 2-flute mill cannot be used for the same applications a 4-flute mill.
4-flute mills are most often used for surface milling and side milling although this type of mill can produce the same effect as a 2-flute mill, such as making pockets and slots.
Remember: an end mill with a greater number of flutes will give a smoother finish, but fewer flutes mean lower chip load, better chip clearing and less heat build-up.
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