Moving in the Z Axis when Machining Melamine

      CNC owners consider whether it's worth moving the tool in the Y axis while cutting, in order to extend bit life. August 14, 2007

We will be starting to machine a large job of melamine panels this week. We have a pretty good handle on machining melamine, but I am wondering if anyone moves their cutter in Z while cutting and if it adds to the life of the insert cutter or if it just dulls a larger surface quicker.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor T:
I use diamond for most of our melamine cutting. Usually get about 4 to 6 weeks out of a tool. It can also run way faster than typical insert type tooling. I run it at 14 meters/minute at 18000 rpm.

From contributor F:
No. I wouldn't bother moving your cutter in the Z axis. The paper will wear heavier on your tool than the core, but you should still get good life compared to cutting plastic laminate. If you are running the same program for the entire run, then you may want to oscillate the tool in z to maximize tool life, but it probably isn't worth the effort if the programs number more than a few. If your machine can cut at high feed rates, you might want to switch to a 3 flute mortise compression or compression tool so that you can run at 1000 ipm (40 meters/min) or higher feed rates on 3/4" core.

From contributor B:
If you are using a pod and rail type machine, moving the "Z" to increase cutter life works okay, if you don't have to jump through hoops with your software to do it. You generally don't get the tool life with pod and rail machines that you do with a nesting machine; the work holding is not quite as good.

If your feeds and speeds are good, you should be cutting a few units of material before needing to change a normal carbide tool, if you are ramping in and out of the material as you should be.

If you can't get the feeds and speeds to have good to great tool life, maybe you can't run at high feed rates for whatever reason, insert tooling can be helpful and cost effective. If this is the case, you would probably be better off to go with a pair of 1/2" insert tools. If you rotate the cutting edges (and the bodies to speed things up) before they are too worn, you can cut a lot of parts with a set of inserts and 2 cutter bodies. The 2 cutter bodies just speed up the process of changing or rotating the cutter inserts. Actually, the insert tool works pretty well all the way around for many. The turn around time for sharpening is quick. ;)

From contributor R:
It is always a good idea to ramp the tool into the material. Plunging puts a huge axial load on the spindle bearings of your machine. Good programming software should be doing this for you automatically.

If you are experiencing chips in the surface, consider tool stay down nesting where the tool enters the material one time and connects part to part without lifting up. I saw this recently in a demo and it definitely decreased cycle time and increased tool life.

From contributor S:
We will only be doing perimeter cuts to these parts. I was just wondering about oscillating and if it was something to try. I just couldn't think of the word oscillate when I tried to explain. Yes, it's pod/rail, we don't do nesting. Weeke BP140.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Computerization

  • KnowledgeBase: Computerization: CNC Machinery and Techniques

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article