The Advantages of 5-Axis CNC Machining

If you have questions about creating sturdy parts using CNC Machining, you’ve come to the right place. Our quick guide will help you understand the advantages of 5-axis CNC machining so you can get started on your next part.

By Scott Kaplan · July 07, 2016

If you have questions about creating sturdy parts using CNC Machining, you’ve come to the right place. Our quick guide will help you understand the advantages of 5-axis CNC machining so you can get started on your next part.

What is CNC Machining?

CNC (computer numerical control) Machining is a means to remove material using high speed, precision machines that use a wide variety of cutting tools to create the final design.

There are three main types of CNC machines: vertical milling machines, horizontal milling machines, and lathes.

To successfully make a part on a CNC Machine, programs dictate tool movement. The programmed instructions given to the CNC machine are encoded using CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software in conjunction with the CAD (computer aided design) file uploaded to the Xometry quote page.

Rotating Part

The picture illustrates a part being rotated so that the tool remains tangential to the part. 5 of the 6 faces can be machined with one setup saving you time and money on your part.The CAD model is loaded into the CAM software and tool paths are created based on the required geometry of the manufactured part. Once the tool paths are determined, the CAM software creates machine code that instructs the machine as to how fast to move, how fast to turn the stock and/or tool, and the location to move in a 5-axis X, Y, Z, A and B coordinate system.

What are benefits of making part on a 5-Axis Machine?

5-axis machining means that the mill and the part can be moved in up to 5 ways simultaneously around multiple axes. Xometry’s 5-axis machining capabilities allow complex parts to be manufactured in the most cost-effective manner.

Here are four main advantages:

  1. Number of setups minimized
    For contoured parts or parts with machining on several faces, multiple setups (with 3 axis machining) are used to create the geometry by manually rotating the part. By using the 5-axis technology versus conventional 3 axis machining, fewer setups are required to create a part with complex geometry.
  2. Often eliminates need for complex fixtures
    Often times with 3 axis machining, complex fixtures must be made in order to hold the part in the orientation necessary to create the feature. 5-axis machining eliminates the need and the cost of creating the fixtures because the part can be held once and rotated so that the geometry is created.
  3. Faster material removal
    5-Axis machining allows for the cutting tool to remain tangential to the cutting surface. Lower cycle times and costs are achieved because more material can be removed with each pass of the tool.
  4. Better surface finishes
    Better surface finishes result by using the 5-axis capabilities on contoured geometry. With traditional 3 axis machining, very small cuts must be used in order to create a good surface finish resulting in longer lead times.

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