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Applications Expand for Tapping Screws


Thread milling, a fundamental metalworking process to create threads, is often the operation of choice when working with difficult-to-machine materials, such as titanium, tool steels, stainless steels, hardened steels and other superalloys. Thread milling has been used in the energy and automotive industries for some time, but now its popularity is growing in the aerospace and medical industries. It is typically used on large workpieces for the aerospace industry and small workpieces in the medical industry.

Another consideration when thread milling difficult-to-machine materials is if threading will be done in one pass or multiple passes, and whether the thread mill will be single tooth or multitooth. It is common to use the multitooth design for one-pass threading, where one full revolution completes the thread. With a single-tooth design, there is one thread for every rotation.

“These single-tooth designs are less productive in terms of speed to create a thread, but the design gives you more versatility in terms of doing different diameters and multiple pitches instead of having multiple taps or a thread mill specific to a certain pitch,” said Raun. “With single-tooth designs, you can do a wider range of thread forms.”

Also, choosing the proper thread mill depends on several variables such as the part to be produced, how hard the material is, and the required thread dimensions. For example, extremely hard materials typically have smaller part runs, according to Emuge’s Blandon. “When you have less to produce, having the ability to choose the right thread mill from a variety of options, including different thread diameters, profiles, and pitches, is most cost-effective and productive,” he said. “The depths of the required thread would guide us towards [certain tool options] as well. The deeper the thread, the more deflection and so on.”

Apps and software packages are available to help operators choose the appropriate thread mill, and thread mill manufacturers’ reps can help as well. “It is all about time savings, error proofing, and productivity,” said Raun. “Think about how a company specializes in a certain thread form, but one day they get an opportunity to do a thread they never have done, so they can rely on software where all the typical thread forms are supported.”


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