5 Axis Machining

5 Axis Machining yields complex shapes in a single set up which is more efficient and productive than milling a part in a series of set ups. The elimination of multiple set ups reduces cycle time and costs associated with preparing additional fixtures. Plus, since the part remains in one set up from start to finish this eliminates alignment issues associated with multiple set ups. With 5 axis machining, complex parts that may otherwise have to be cast can be milled from a solid piece of material. For prototypes and short runs this is quicker and cheaper. Micro drilling applications that require many holes with different angles are performed more efficiently on a 5 axis machine.

What is 5-axis CNC Machining?

In the simplest terms, 5-axis machining involves using a CNC to move a part or cutting tool along five different axes simultaneously. This enables the machining of very complex parts, which is why 5-axis is especially popular for aerospace applications.
However, several factors have contributed to the wider adoption of 5-axis machining. These include:

  • A push toward single-setup machining (sometimes referred to as “Done-in-One”) to reduce lead time and increase efficiency
  • The ability to avoid collision with the tool holder by tilting the cutting tool or the table, which also allows better access to part geometry
  • Improved tool life and cycle time as a result of tilting the tool/table to maintain optimum cutting position and constant chip load.

5-Axis Machining Advantage

Unlike 3 axis machining, the cutting tool stays tangential to the surface you are cutting. More material is removed with each pass of the tool and the requirement for less set-ups result in saved time and saved cost.

5 axis capabilities on contoured geometry result in an improved surface finish. Five axis machining allows the parts orientation to be closer to the cutting tool. The fourth and fifth axis let the CNC Machinist use a short cutting tool, that will vibrate less, resulting in an improved surface finish.

You might be the most competent and experienced 3 axis CNC machinist in the world, but some parts require all five axes. This is one of the most widely recognized benefits associated with 5 axis machines. Undercutting is made easy as the additional movements allow for machining arcs and angles that could only be done before with additional set-ups and special fixtures.

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