Mechanical milling plays an essential role in the manufacturing of many products used by consumers today. Milling machinery is capable of processing a variety of materials, and each of these materials comes with unique challenges that must be addressed successfully in order to mill quality components.
Carbon fiber is a material that is growing in popularity due to its lightweight and durable qualities. Milling carbon fiber requires adequate preparation and access to the right tools.
Cut carbon fiber using a waterjet before milling.
Waterjet cutting is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to cut carbon fiber. You can significantly reduce milling times by using a waterjet cutter to rough out the shape of your carbon fiber components prior to milling.
This reduces the bulk of the material that you have to work with and makes it easier to achieve the tight tolerances and refined finish that your customers demand of their carbon fiber components.
Use specialized spindle needles.
When the time to begin milling your carbon fiber components comes, you will need access to specialized spindle needles for your milling machinery.
Carbon fiber can put a lot of strain on spindle needs. The material fibers often fracture during processing. This fracturing can dull needles quickly and compromise the quality of the overall milling process.
Longer spindle needles are required when working with carbon fiber. These needles should be made from carbide or polycrystalline diamond to retain their sharpness while milling carbon fiber.
Be proactive in minimizing heat.
All mechanical milling processes produce heat. Unfortunately, heat can be detrimental to the quality of carbon fiber components. Carbon fiber has a low thermal conductivity, so much of the heat generated during milling remains within the carbon fiber itself.
There are no chips produced when milling carbon fiber to help dissipate the heat. In order to ensure that your milled components don't warp, you need to be proactive in dissipating heat. Reduce the feed rate to lower friction levels. Use a coolant (where permitted) to help dispel heat and keep the milling surface as cool as possible.
Milling carbon fiber properly requires some adjustments to your normal milling processes. Cutting components roughly to size with a waterjet cutter, using specialized needles made from durable materials, and slowing the feed rate or using a coolant to reduce heat will help you successfully mill carbon fiber components for your customers in the future.