CNC Tool Choice to Limit Laminate Chipping

      Lots of CNC users experience chipping problems when machining laminated panels. Here's a discussion. June 28, 2010

I have someone cut pre-laminated panels for me and lately there has been a lot of chipping and burring of the laminate, mostly on the top side (bottom is cabinet liner). I've heard this is a common problem. Is it the tool, tool speed, feed speed, or something else? My CNC shop does not know what to do to fix it. I really don't want to go back to cutting them all on the saw. Any advice would be helpful.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor E:
You shouldn't have any of the issues you’re seeing. We cut about 20 laid up panels a day and the only time we have problems is we've overused some tooling. I've had some tools sharpened from some local guys that have caused chipping but know I send all the tooling to the manufacture (Vortex) and that problem was fixed. We cut panels both face up and face down and they are fine. Your CNC shop needs to work on their tooling setups.

From contributor E:
I'm using two different tools depending on material thickness. Vortex 3485 2 flute chipbreaker compression (short up cut for thin material).Vortex 3285 3 flute chipbreaker compressionI use a chip load of .021.

From contributor T:
To the original questioner: what brand laminate is it?

From the original questioner:
Most of the laminate we use is Wilsonart.

From contributor T:
I've been experiencing this for years. I've tried every bit under the sun. I've talked to guys who use beam saws and they say they experience some chipping issues with Wilsonart as well, that they don't have with other brands. I can find no correlation between finishes either. It doesn't seem to matter.

From the original questioner:
Is everyone having a problem with all the finishes or just the premium finishes? We have had problems with both, but more so with the premium. So far, I have not received a suitable response from Wilsonart.

From contributor G:
It could be a few things. You have not mentioned the thickness of the material. We just had a few customers mention the same thing, about chipping the top side. After we probe a little further, we found out they went from 3/4 to 5/8 material. Some competitors have a standard .700 up/shear. So anything under 3/4 it will chip. Our tools have a .400 up/shear so you can machine 1/2 thick material.

Secondly the material you mentioned has or may have aluminum sulfates in the melamine, which cause premature tool failure. Our customers use a 3+3 tool for this. Thirdly a number of firms use an different grade of carbide, the tool is not machined with tight tolerances.

From contributor I:
Wilsonart sparks when I cut it on a saw. I mentioned this a while back and the other posters said this was not true but I see what I see. I have heard that WA started using an "aeon" finish like Nevamar's "arp" which coincides with the sparking thing.

From the original questioner:
The sparking is real. I suppose I could make a video of them, but I really don't have time and people would still not believe it. I think the bottom line is laminates are getting much more durable and therefore much more difficult to work with.

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