Understanding Helical Interpolation for End Milling

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If you need to make a hole or cut, you probably consider traditional drilling to be your primary option. Drilling, however, is based on a principle that is already hundreds of years old. While drilling can create holes and cuts quickly, it creates a range of problems, from inconsistency to unintentional damage to drill bits or even drilled material. Helical interpolation with a carbide or ceramic end mill solves these problems 

What Is Helical Interpolation?

Helical interpolation is an advanced drilling process performed with a computer numerical control machine. The term describes the shape of a drilling motion as a helix. To achieve this, a bit moves simultaneously in X, Y, and Z directions. This creates an extremely consistent cut, even when drilled materials are less than ideal. Because of its natural spiral motion, it can also create extremely high-quality threads for thread milling.

In situations where consistency and quality are paramount, helical interpolation can’t be beaten. Interpolation can handle irregular surfaces and cleanly cut difficult materials that tend to chip or warp. As it creates a thick material chip upon entrance and a thin one upon exiting a cut, it can remove material more efficiently than any other cutting method currently available.

What Is Helical Interpolation Good for?

The benefits of helical milling are most pronounced when quality can be reasonably prioritized over rapid machining. Using indexable carbide inserts, machinists can even improve the time it takes to finish a hole, closing the time difference between traditional drilling and helical methods. Because a single tool can cover a wide range of hole diameters, helical interpolation is ideal for creating large-diameter holes that are often hard on traditional drilling materials. 

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When Should You Use Helical Interpolation for End Milling?

Interpolation can be used to machine features to depth prior to milling. This results in a precise cut that doesn’t wear on parts. The same machinery can then be used to create advanced features via more advanced programming.

A key advantage of using helical interpolation is that it’s often cheaper and more efficient than using several indexable drills. It’s also efficient because it requires less power than simple drilling to achieve the same results. Though it requires a CNC machine, provided you have one, it can accomplish many complex processes far more efficiently and with far less wear on bits than other low-output methods.

Are There Any Downsides?

The decision to use helical interpolation over other methods depends on your intended workflow. If you need to drill many simple holes at great depths, traditional drilling is superior. If you need to create precise, high-quality threads or holes to be milled and want to save on costs, helical interpolation is best. Whenever using helical interpolation, chip clearing is extremely important. Depending on the material you plan to work with, you should use air or coolant. Most materials work well, though cutting through aluminum can be tricky.

If you perform precise, advanced machining, using helical interpolation for your end mill cuts can be an economical and efficient solution. For all your machining needs, shop Kennametal.

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