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Machine Tools/Selection of milling / cutting bit and speeds for an unusual material


Dear Don - a question about what milling or cutting bit, and speed settings, would be good for: straight cut through a 500-page ream of PAPER.

This would be on a do-it-yourself CNC milling setup. We can choose any feed-rate, and any spindle speed up to 30,000 RPM.

The goal is: a clean cut through the stack of 500 sheets of ordinary 8.5 x 11 inches paper, at a precise position. So that, the edges of the cut stack look reasonably smooth, and the sheets are not shredded at the edges.

The ream of paper can be pinned down with vises, on both sides, within a few millimeters of the cutting path, to prevent buckling of the stack.

I imagine this is somewhat similar to cutting MDF, but much softer: with the paper fibers being thinner, shorter, and not a homogenous mass. Sheets stacked one on top of the next like really thin "laminates".

Also, I am aware that a milling machine is not the ideal equipment for this task, but that's what we've got to work with.

We do have a shop-vac setup for dust collection, but it would be preferable if the waste material comes off the bit more like "paper shavings" than as fine dust.

Thanks for suggestions about bit choice and speed settings for spindle RPM and feed-rate.

That is a question totally outside of my experience.  The company I work for now makes printers and label makers and has a facility next door that makes and rolls the label media.  There isn't a spinning blade in the place.  That said, if someone were going to ask me to do this I would probably start with the finest pitch slitting saw I could get and pinch the paper as close as I could to the cut.

I debated not answering this at all just because I really have no experience with it.  All I can say is carry on, keep experimenting, you'll nail it down eventually. What's that saying about necessity and the mother of invention?

Sorry I couldn't help.


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Don Wright


I can answer manual and CNC machining, stamping and general machining questions, general process questions and machine setup and standard G-code. Mills, lathes surface grinders etc.


I have 29 years in machining, including 4 years of trade school. The first 15 or so in old time stamping tool rooms, including mig and tig welding. During the next 13 years I added in CNC programming, solidworks, bobcad and alibre design experience.

Blackstone Valley Technical High School diploma in 1988. Basic electronics night class certificate in 1991.

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