If you deal with exotic alloys like Inconel, titanium, Hastelloy, etc., this blog post is written especially for you.

Exotic alloys are alloys designed for high temperature applications (think aerospace), perform in corrosive environments (think underground), or have the highest strength to weight ratios (think earth moving applications). The machinability of these materials is NOT the first consideration. As much as it would be nice to have an aluminum firewall in a helicopter from the machinist’s viewpoint, as the pilot or passenger you want flame retardant and strong.

Some exotic materials can ignite spontaneously when machined and exposed to the atmosphere. It is likely these alloys were created to perform in applications where traditional materials would fail. Also, these alloys are typically more expensive than traditional steels machined in most shops.

So now, you are faced with machining (more specifically threading) these kinds of alloys. What’s an operator to do? Application specific tools have been designed with these considerations in mind. Thread mills made from solid carbide specifically for exotic metals are manufactured in the USA by North American Tool and a handful of other providers.

Thread mills for exotic alloys are designed with only three teeth so there is less stress on the tool than a conventional thread mill with 6 or 8 or 10 teeth engaged in the material at the same time. Exotic solid carbide thread mills are made with left hand helix and left hand cut, which permit an operator to run from the top of the hole to the bottom and climb mill the threads. This will create a right hand thread in the part. 

You may ask why is a company that makes special taps informing you about thread mills? The answer is North American Tool is the industry leader in designing and manufacturing SPECIAL TAPS FOR EXOTIC MATERIALS as well. This is an alternative tool to the special taps we design every day in case your shop has at least a three axis spindle and deals with these alloys.

Because the tool is coated with AlCrN, the tool has greater heat and wear resistance in the high heat, higher abrasive applications one confronts when machining exotic alloys. The threads are milled, rather than cut, typically producing a better quality thread in the piece part. As an operator, when you select the correct tool for the job, you use the right substrate (carbide in this case), the right geometry and the right coating (AlCrN) and you avoid the issues others face when they try to apply a general purpose tool to a difficult opportunity. It will make your shop stand out from the competition since you produce better results at a reduced cost.

If you are working with exotic materials and need a thread mill or special tap, contact our Customer Service team by email at [email protected] or by phone at 800-872-8277.