Allan Powers is technical specialist with Hougen Manufacturing Inc. Click image to enlargeThere is more than one type of annular cutter for different alloys

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked, “what type of material are you drilling?” and received the response, “steel,” I would be sitting on a beach and enjoying the rest of my life. In today’s environment, the word “steel” is a loose term and often misunderstood. It is not just something that a magnet sticks to anymore. There are more different types of alloys and materials than ever before. When it comes to holemaking, understanding what type of material is being drilled is important because of the many options for choosing an annular cutter.

Material type
When looking for an annular cutter, the type of material being drilled is the key factor in knowing which cutter to select. Find out what material you are drilling before purchasing an annular cutter. There is everything from mild steels such as A36 and aluminum to armour plate and stainless varieties. Even much of the structural steels today are harder and more flexible depending on chemical composition. AR (Abrasion Resistant) steels have become increasingly popular and can be challenging to drill. If you don’t know your material, find out.

Annular cutter types
The days of grabbing a magnetic drill and plowing a twist drill through the steel, blue chips flying, are gone. Annular cutters are the standard for holemaking with mag drills. These cutters make the job easier, more efficient and save shops money.

Here is a quick basic chart (at right) to reference when deciding which cutter to use.

Basic Material & Annular Cutter TypesClick image to enlargeAnother factor in the annular cutter equation is tooth geometry. Cutting multiple plates at once does not use the same tooth angles as when cutting a single sheet. There are different geometries and features companies put on annular cutters to help ensure the most success.

And don’t forget coatings. Manufacturers can apply a variety of different coatings to increase the tool life in harder materials. Remember, you get what you pay for. Also, look for annular cutters that can be re-sharpened. That will save you even more money in the long run.

Other important factors
After you choose the proper annular cutter, there are other factors to help lead you to greater success.

1. Always use coolant and use the machine's thru-the-spindle coolant whenever possible. Cutting tools love coolant.

2. Use good steady feed pressure. Make sure you are pulling a good chip.

3. Aim to get close to the recommended RPM for the cutter and material. Your tool life will thank you.

4. Use a sharp annular cutter, because sharp edges just cut better.

5. Ensure the arbor and mounting system holding the tool is rigid and secure otherwise you can quickly dull or break a cutter.

6.Always use the pilot pin. Slugs must be ejected.

When in doubt, call the manufacturer and ask questions. Your supplier is the expert and can help guide you in your hole cutting decisions. Whether it is sheet metal or thick plate, annular cutters are incredible tools that make it much easier to drill holes. Choose wisely and there is almost no “steel” you can’t drill. SMT

Allan Powers is technical specialist with Hougen Manufacturing Inc.


Lead, follow or get out of the way

by John Mitchell

Selecting proper lead angles can extend tool life

Plasma productivity in Alberta: A Solid Foundation

by Nestor Gula

Alberta screw piles manufacturer spurs growth with new tube and pipe cutting equipment

Medical Manufacturing: A leg up

by Tim wilson

Prescriptions for success in medical manufacturing

Fabricating case study: Investing for Growth

by Nestor Gula

Ontario shop grows with timely, wise capital investments

Samuel acquires 100% of additive business Burloak Technologies

Samuel Son & Co., Ltd., a Burlington, Ont.-based metals distributor and industrial products manufacturer, has acquired all remaining shares of Burloak Technologies, an engineering and design contract manufacturer for additive manufacturing (AM), materials development, high precision CNC machining, post-processing and metrology.

Milling Tools

Luke Pollock, Product Manager

Shop Metalworking Technology Magazine speaks with Walter Tools’ Luke Pollock about advances, cutting strategies and challenges

Designing homes with steel

A visual tour of 42 beautifully designed homes constructed with structural steel.

Fabricating Tech Tips: 10 Ways to Better Forming

by Andrea Bustreo

How to avoid scratches and dents when forming stainless steel

Welding Tech Tips: Robotic MIG gun selection

by Ryan Lizotte

Choose the right gun to optimize welding automation

Time lapse suspension bridge construction

Time lapse sequences make the construction of this massive suspension bridge – the Osman Gazi bridge over the Gulf of Izmit in Turkey, opened in 2016 – look a lot easier than it actually was.  

Installing a 240 ton automated ironworker

COMEQ Inc. says it has delivered the world's largest automted ironworker to a customer, the GEKA Hydracorp 220 SD hydraulic ironworker with a semi-automatic gauging system and a punch tonnage of more than 240 tons.

Aluminum big part of Magna ultralight door

Magna International Inc., in cooperation with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and partners FCA US and Grupo Antolin, announced it has developed a new, ultralight door architecture that achieves the project objective of 42.5 per cent mass savings compared to an average current production door.

Manufacturing activity improves

RBC Canadian Manufacturing PMI points to strengthening activity in June

An increase in June manufacturing activity more than reversed the modest declines experienced in May and April in Canada, according to the latest figures from the RBC Canadian Manufacturing PMI.

New VP of NA sales at Mate Precision Tooling

Kevin Jordan has joined Mate Precision Tooling as vice president of North American sales.

'Dr. Bender' Paul LeTang set to retire

After seven years working at Bystronic, and a career in sheet metal fabrication spanning five decades, Paul LeTang, bending guru and press brake product manager for Bystronic Inc., is set to retire on March 2, 2020.

Stay In Touch

twitter facebook linkedIn