What are the Advantages of a 5 Axis CNC Machine?

Cnc Machine

In CNC machining, most folks are familiar with the concept that tooling moves around a target resource to produce desired work, or the resource is moved and spun so the tooling can be applied. Either approach is effective, and is oftentimes applied in three dimensions: vertical, horizontal, and angular. These are typically known as x, y, and z coordinates. Any combination of these provides the basic formula for a position, and then computer-controlled tooling can move accordingly, doing its work on metal, wood, stone, plastic or similar for a desired shape output.

However, the basic 3-axis approach isn’t the only CNC machining option available. In fact, with a greater number of axes involved, far more complex, intricate part work can be produced, especially when dealing with smaller designs with greater detail and accuracy required.

The CNC machining world is not a complex one in terms of capabilities. There are three main groups of work possibilities which generally match the angle of shaping discussed above. Vertical milling, horizontal milling and lathing are the three primary approaches of work that can be performed. From there, combinations of position then create intricacy that becomes more and more possible with an additional angle of approach capabilities. This is where a 5-axis CNC machine can easily shine over more basic models in terms of what can be produced.

The 5-axis machine approaches a target resource from 5 different directions versus being limited to a trio of them. The first key is additional rotation. The target material can be rotated at the same time as the tooling can be moved on an x, y, and z approach. That means the same three primary positions can be applied again and again to different parts of the target material as it spins back and forth on a rotating axis. Secondly, tilt is added into the mix, increasing the angle of approach possible, also tremendously increasing possibilities of movement combinations. That essentially means a user’s program can affect five different aspects of a shape. Previously, one would have to do the first three, re-position the target material and then apply the additional changes to a new formula. Now, multi-tasking in a 5-axis machine makes both possible in one operation. That produces a faster output with less operational time and greater capacity.

The 5-axis CNC machine choice isn’t really a brute productivity choice. When dealing with target material that needs to be shaped into durable, heavy-duty parts, the 3-axis approach is more than acceptable. Especially when moving a high volume of basic part production. Instead, the 5-axis system is particularly suited to intricate work. These are part designs that are highly unique, complex and need very detailed shapes previously only handled manually by expert artisans with similar tooling. By combining software programming with the tooling and movement setup, automated production now makes it possible to do the same 24/7. Parts are typically used in medicine, aviation, high-performance machine, and vehicle assemblies and similar.

The particular movements of the 5-axis approach are simple conceptually. The first three are obvious. Vertical (up and down), horizontal (left to right), depth (front to back), and then two rotation directions. Interestingly, the last two combine both rotation and tilt in different angles. The first is rotation of the horizontal with tilting, and the second is rotation of the vertical with tilting. When one thinks about the options available for combinations, this produces an exponential number of positions, well beyond anything possible with lower-axis systems.

There are other advantages to a 5-axis CNC machine approach over earlier systems as well. The first is setup time and related work. Because the 5-axis system has the ability to do far more multi-tasking up front, it doesn’t need to be re-programmed repeatedly for the same results. It can do in one run what would take a 3-axis CNC machine multiple programs and runs to do the same. That cuts down on cost, programming work, set up, testing and extended production windows.

Additionally, given the fluidity of movement of the 5-axis system, there’s also less need for jigs and additional add-ons for one-time uses or very occasional bracketing of parts for specific angles. The 5-axis rotation and tilt does all the hard work of moving the target material directly into place. Again, that allows for an infinite number of points of contact and less hardware being used to re-position the material being worked on.

The end product that comes out of a 5-axis machine given all the above is, obviously, a far better finish with greater specificity and detailing. 3-axis machines are fine for bulk parts or items that don’t need to have a fine finish applied. Alternatively, the 5-axis approach does the opposite, opening up the ability to create extremely well-done finishes on parts given the movement capability of the tooling. This is a big advantage when surface criteria and tolerances need to be far more refined than just raw metal shaping.

Evden Enterprises has been a long-time player in 5-axis CNC machining, providing both system setup guidance as well as direct part order fulfillment with 5-axis CNC system criteria. Because our specialists are so versed in the application of these systems, we’re able to meet client criteria in various industries far beyond what the typical market player would be willing to take on. Regardless of challenge, the combination of experience, expertise and high-quality 5-axis CNC machining makes a huge difference in product quality and meeting primary expectations the right way the first time. Call us to find out more and how your next project can be met by Evden Enterprises. We’ve handled all types of machining challenges and complexities over the years, and we may surprise you with what’s possible today in CNC machining handled right.