Do you get what you pay for in Carbide inserts?

I know this is probably a dumb question, and that no one will ever respect me now for admitting I buy cheap inserts, but----

The question relates to carbide inserts for my lathe and mill.

The situation: I use a 1 1/2" face mill a lot in my old vertical mill and it has 3 TPG32X (usually 322) inserts. I use several sizes and shapes of inserts for lathe tooling in my 10" Atlas lathe.

I usually buy inserts when they are on sale at MSC or ENCO, for as little as $1.50 to $3.00 each, (but always in packages of 10 because I can't get fewer). For some of the lathe tooling, I can get sale prices, but some of it never goes on sale. I can't see the difference in life between the cheap inserts in the mill and lathe and the more somewhat expensive specialized inserts in the lathe. What am I missing? Do I have to buy10 each of the $10 or $15 dollar inserts the get better life?

Pete Stanaitis


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IMNSHO -- unless you are doing work that is outside of the normal home/hobby shop in terms of feeds/speeds or materials the "low price spread" is adequate.

Also if you are a cheap screw like I am, consider using the TPU [unground] in place of the TPG [ground] inserts. I can't tell any difference and you can save a bit.

Now if you are machining "stuff" on piece rate, thats another story.

Unka' George [George McDuffee] ============ Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.

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F. George McDuffee

I would add to that, that the price seems to be controlled mainly by turnover. If you want something in a weird size/weird grade you'll pay through the nose for it. If you want what everyone else is buying, you get better prices even if you are only buying 10 off. of course, If you want what they over ordered and no one bought, sometimes that gives good prices as well :-)

Buy inserts on sale. The only time when it isn't a good idea to do that, is if you didn't get enough last time and you ran our before the came on sale again!

my 0/2d worth

Mark Rand RTFM

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Mark Rand

' If the cheaper inserts are working for you, use em. Insert selection is sometimes very frustrating. Sometimes a cheaper insert will work much better than a more expensive one. One rule that I have found is that the tool holder manufacturers inserts seem to work better than another insert brand. The one thing you must do is to match the grade of the insert with the metal you are cutting. Stainless steel requires a different grade and coating to perform well. Get a copy of the recommended speeds and feeds for the insert you are using and use them as a starting point.


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