Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) composites are widely used in aerospace applications that require severe quality parameters. To simplify the assembly operations and reduce the associated costs, the current trend in industry is to optimize the drilling processes. However, the machining of CFRP composites is very challenging compared with metals, and several defect types can be generated by drilling. The emerging process of orbital drilling can greatly reduce the defects associated with the traditional drilling of CFRP, but it is a more complex process requiring careful process parameters selection and it does not allow for the complete elimination of the thrust force responsible for delamination damage. As an alternative to traditional and orbital drilling, this work presents a new hole making process, where the hole is realized by a combination of drilling and peripheral milling performed using the same cutting tool following a novel tool path strategy. An original tool design principle is proposed to realize a new drill-milling tool, made of a first drilling and a subsequent milling portion. Two different tool configurations are experimentally tested to evaluate the performance of the newly-conceived combined drill-milling process. This process is quick and easy, and the experimental results show an improvement in the drilled hole quality.
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