One way of avoiding or alleviating such a condition is accomplished with the use of a tap feature called “relief”. The definition of “relief” according to Marian Webster, is removal or lightening of something oppressive, painful, or distressing.
For a tap, “relief” is the reducing of surface contact between the tap/tap feature and the part being tapped. Surface contact generates unwanted heat causing the issues mentioned above. Depending on the tap feature, relief is applied in a direction that is, radially, around the tap, or axially, along the axis of the tap.
All taps require a minimum number of features to have relief for it to cut, other reliefs are applied when the tapping application requires it. There are always tradeoffs when designing a tap, if a relief is applied or it’s amount is greater than necessary, it can cause the tap to run free or loose to a point it will cause heartburn or acid indigestion by producing issues mentioned above.
Chamfer, the tapered threads at the front of the tap. The crests or major diameter of the chamfered threads are radially relieved from the cutting edge to the heel of the land. Without this relief it would be like cutting a tomato with the non-sharp side of a knife, you can imagine the results of that. When looking at a taps chamfer, relief results in the crest width being wider at the cutting edge and narrowing towards the heel;
A typical diameter reduction amount for a standard tap is 0.005/0.0010 per inch. This amount may be increased for specially designed taps used for tapping materials that close in excessively on the tap.
The chamfer threads, as well as the first full thread of the tap, do the cutting and the balance of the non-chamfered, non-relieved threads, go for the ride helping guide the tap. Back taper prevents surface contact of the non-chamfered threads with the part material.
Thread Relief, a radial reduction of the taps major and pitch diameters from the cutting edge to the heel. Relieving of the pitch diameter results in the minor diameter being relieved as well due to the manufacturing process whereas the major diameter is relieved separately. The application of the major or pitch diameter relief is normally applied separately but both can be done in combination. Relief of pitch diameter is the most common followed by the major diameter. Thread relief is applied when Back Taper alone is not enough to prevent surface contact when tapping materials that close in and squeezes the tap like stainless steel. The rate of reduction from the cutting edge to the heel is based on the material being tapped and, in some cases, the tapping application.
There are two common types of Thread Reliefs:
- Eccentric, a radial relief in the thread form starting at the cutting edge and continuing to the heel.
- Con-Eccentric, Radial relief in the thread form starting back of a concentric margin.