4 Tips On How To Handle Undercuts In Machining Operations

When a component is being machined, some designs will be easier to generate than others, which means that machinability for various features should be a core consideration. While shallow cavities and bigger features are usually simple to machine, undercuts can be a challenging application, but by using the following tips you’ll be able to handle them without trouble.

What are Undercuts?

An undercut is a feature that is recessed, that standardized cutting tools such as end mills aren’t capable of creating. Their creation requires specialized equipment since some of the surfaces won’t be directly accessible overhead. As you can imagine, designing components with undercuts is often challenging, and as a consequence, they tend to carry a steeper price tag.

The undercut often occurs in locations where one work piece portion overhangs another. This overhang produces a gap that classical tools such as 3-axis mills and routers are unable to reach. This is why you’ll either have to use specialized techniques or cutters; otherwise you must machine both parts separately and then bolt or glue them together.

Use Lollipop or Slot Cutters

Lollipop and slot cutters are effective because they use a shaft that is narrow with an end tip that is wider. With a slot cutter, its tip will actually be flatter, whereas lollipop cutters have round tips which are optimal for cutting shapes that are curved. The distance from its outside tip to the shaft edge is also the distance a machinist may cut beneath its overhanging surface. Lollipop cutters are quite popular for edge breaking and deburring every work piece portion, which includes its underside. They also come in numerous wrap angles, including 220 or 300 degrees.

Perform Shallow Cuts

When utilizing tools to carry out undercuts, shallow cuts are highly recommended. The reason for this is that blades that accompany most undercutting equipment are connected to vertical style shafts, and the depths they can obtain are limited. Therefore, when creating the undercut feature, it is recommended to only produce cuts at depths that your available tools can manage.

Collaborate with Professionals

For some products, if not most, you’ll probably want to collaborate with an experienced machining company. These firms have the knowledge and tools on hand to deal with complex shapes, and if you aren’t certain regarding the undercut layout and its execution, getting the assistance of an expert will ensure the design is optimized and conducted with the highest precision with minimal chance of errors.

Think Twice Before Using Customized Tools

While customized tools can certainly be effective in producing the desired undercut, they come with the downside of being costly plus it will take some time to produce them, time you might not have. One of the best and simplest ways to avoid having to utilize customized tools is planning your undercut based on standardized dimensions. For example, if you want to produce a dovetail style cut with a fifteen-degree angle, locating the right tool will be extremely challenging, whereas a standard forty-five-degree cut can make your machining process a lot easier.

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