Milling steel - what should you know?

Milling is an important process for many materials. What you have to pay particular attention to when milling steel, which tools are suitable, and what problems there may be with steel, you will learn in detail in this post.


Milling is one of the machining methods specified in DIN 8589. In addition to milling, turning, drilling, sawing and grinding also represent machining or machining operations.

When milling materials, chips are lifted off the material, which is usually done by machines (milling machine, CNC milling machine, machining centers).

Requirements for milling

In order to successfully carry out such a machining of a material, certain material properties must be given. Steel usually does not have the required properties or only to a limited extent. This leads to numerous problems when trying to machine steel by milling. In general, for metals (especially steel) special, specially designed tools for milling in milling machines or machining centers must be used.

Differences in the milling suitability of steel

Whether steel has good machinability depends on several factors. The most important of these are:

  • the respective steel alloy (recognizable by the material number) and the composition of the alloy
  • the carbon content of the steel
  • the hardness of a steel grade
  • the way of making the steel workpiece (by forging, casting, etc.)

Problems with soft steel grades

Particularly soft steel grades, especially with low carbon content, are hardly manageable when milling. It comes during milling - even with careful work - again and again to the formation of burrs. These often also form so-called slicing.

Problems with hard steels

With harder steel grades, however, so-called outbreaks can quickly occur if the milling tool is not optimally positioned.

working speeds

Especially in industrial processes, the machining speed plays an essential role in the efficiency of machining. For simple machines, the differences in the processing speed vary considerably depending on the steel grade. They can move between 20 and 300 meters per minute, which often makes costs difficult to calculate. High-tech systems can often reach up to 10,000 meters per minute by optimizing for the particular steel material and its special properties.

Tips & Tricks

One can therefore remember as a rule of thumb: Steels with a low carbon content are usually well weldable, but for machining such as milling on the other hand, in turn very little suitable and fundamentally problematic. These problems often show up during drilling.

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