Benefits of using 5-Axis CNC Machining

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Which 5-axis are they?

5-axis CNC machining, as the name implies, is a mode of CNC machining. Using linear interpolation motion of any 5 coordinates in X-axis, Y-axis, Z-axis, A-axis, B-axis, and C-axis. The machining center used for 5-axis CNC machining technology is usually called a 5-axis machining center or 5-axis CNC machining center.

Within the CNC machining service industry, 5-axis CNC machining is the core technology for high-efficiency and high-precision machining.

Generally, the machining centers we use now are 3-axis machining centers. 3-axis machining center refers to X-axis, Y-axis, Z-axis, 3 linear axes. Its structure form is relatively simple. When the 3-axis machining center is processing, the direction of the tool axis will not change. The movement is also limited, and the programming is relatively easy. Of course, there are also 4-axis machining centers. 4-axis machining center refers to X-axis, Y-axis, Z-axis, and A-axis.

Here, the A-axis is the axis that rotates around the X-axis. The 5-axis machining center has two more rotation axes than 3-axis. That is, in addition to the 3 linear axes X, Y, and Z, the 5-axis machining center also includes two of the A, B, and C rotary axes around the 3 linear axes respectively. This technology has been widely used in high precision instrument manufacturing fields such as marine, aerospace, automotive, light industry, and medical.

5-axis machining center commonly has the following 3 typical mechanical structure forms.

  1. Two rotation coordinates directly control the direction of the tool axis (Double Pivot Spindle Head)
  2. Two rotation coordinates directly control the rotation of the workpiece (Double Rotary Table)
  3. Two rotating coordinates, one on the tool and one on the workpiece (Rotary Table + Pivoting Spindle Head)

Advantages of 5-axis

The difference between 3-axis and 5-axis is mainly reflected in the processing capacity. A 5-axis machining center can do the work of a 3-axis machining center, but not the reverse. The presence of two rotary axes gives 5-axis machining center a stronger machining capability. The advantages of the 5-axis are mainly reflected in the following points.

1. Quick and easy setup

Since the tool can rotate on multiple axes, there is no need to set up interruptions in the machining process. The tool can work on all surfaces, except the bottom and the fixed area. The vast majority of work can be done in a single setup.

2. Suitable for complex-shaped work-pieces

The 5-axis machine allows quick access to different machine curves and angles. Typically, these curves and angles are achieved with multiple setups and require additional fixtures. 5-axis reduces the need for additional fixtures and allows multiple complex shapes to be created with a single setup without compromising quality or precision.

3. Reduce the number of times of installing fixtures

Because of the additional two rotary axes of the 5-axis machining center, the tool can approach the part being machined from any direction, and all faces except the fixed surface can be machined in a single setup. The reduction in the number of installing fixtures times is a double benefit for the pursuit of efficient and high precision machining. On the one hand, reducing the times of installing fixtures can save time, cut down the labor intensity of workers and improve the efficiency of the processing. On the other hand, it can minimize the possible issues brought by fixturing, and fixturing errors, to ensure machining accuracy.

4. Maintain the best cutting condition of the tool and improve the cutting conditions

As a result of using a 5-axis machining center, the tool can approach the machined part from any direction, which can make the tool cut the machined part at the most suitable angle. This also improves machining efficiency and quality.

5. Improved tool cycle and life

Unlike 3-axis or 4-axis CNC machining, 5-axis CNC machining has minimal or zero collision between the tool and the tool holder. This is achieved by tilting the cutting table or tool in one direction. Zero collision means improved tool life and cycle time. Tilting also helps to keep the cutting position in the best possible position and to keep the cutting load consistent.

6. Minimal machining vibration

State-of-the-art 5-axis CNC machining centers can support short-length tools, which helps avoid machining vibration. These short tools have also been proven to ensure fast cutting speeds.

7. Better surface finish

The 5th axis helps to bring the workpiece closer to the cutting tool. It also guides the short tooling to achieve a better surface finish. This allows CNC machining shops to achieve a good surface finish in a short turnaround time.

8. Effective interference avoidance

Also, because of the presence of additional two rotary axes of the 5-axis machining center, the tool can approach the machined part from any direction, making the machining path flexible and versatile. It can effectively avoid the interference problem during the machining process.

9. Shorten the development cycle

This is a natural result of quality and efficiency improvement.

The existence of two rotary axes allows the tool to approach the machined workpiece from any direction during 5-axis machining, bringing a series of advantages, the result of which is to make it possible to improve both machining efficiency and quality. But compared with injection molding, CNC machining is not more efficient for mass manufacturing.

Development of 5-axis technology

For decades, it was widely believed that 5-axis CNC machining technology was the only means to machine continuous, smooth, complex surfaces. Once people encounter unsolvable problems in the design and manufacture of complex surfaces, they will turn to 5-axis machining technology. But 5-axis CNC is the most difficult CNC technology, the most widely used technology, which combines computer control, high-performance servo drive, and precision machining technology in one applied to the complex surface of efficient, precise, automated processing.

As a national production equipment automation technology level of the mark, the international 5-axis CNC technology has an important impact on aviation, aerospace, military industry. Because of its special status, especially the technical complexity, industrial countries have been the 5-axis CNC system as strategic materials to implement the export licensing system.

Compared with 3-axis CNC machining, in addition to the above, there are two more following advantages of using 5-axis CNC machining for complex parts.

  1. Expanding the scope of machining production and manufacturing;
  2. To meet the new direction of composite development.

Major manufacturers of 5-axis machining centers

  • DMG Mori Seiki
  • Yamazaki Mazak
  • Makino
  • Okuma Corporation
  • Haas Automation
  • DMTG
  • JTEKT Corporation
  • Doosan Infracore
  • Hurco
  • MHI
  • Hardinge Group
  • Hyundai WIA
  • Jyoti CNC Automation


All in all, with the continuous development of technology, 5-axis CNC machining will become more and more popular, which plays a positive role in the development of industry and society as a whole, technology for the benefit of mankind.

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