Cutting capacity can be seriously limited in heavy duty face milling processes due to self-excited structural vibrations. Special geometry tools and, specifically, variable pitch milling tools have been extensively used in aeronautic applications with the purpose of removing these detrimental chatter vibrations, where high frequency chatter related to slender tools or thin walls limits productivity. However, the application of this technique in heavy duty face milling operations has not been thoroughly explored. In this paper, a method for the definition of the optimum angles between inserts is presented, based on the optimum pitch angle and the stabilizability diagrams. These diagrams are obtained through the brute force (BF) iterative method, which basically consists of an iterative maximization of the stability by using the semidiscretization method. From the observed results, hints for the selection of the optimum pitch pattern and the optimum values of the angles between inserts are presented. A practical application is implemented and the cutting performance when using an optimized variable pitch tool is assessed. It is concluded that with an optimum selection of the pitch, the material removal rate can be improved up to three times. Finally, the existence of two more different stability lobe families related to the saddle-node and flip type stability losses is demonstrated.
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