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Everything You Need to Know About 5-Axis CNC Machining

December 30, 2022

CNC machining is an essential technology for many modern businesses. CNC machining tools are used in a wide array of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical device manufacturing and CNC metal machining among others. And as the industry continues to advance, so do its machining processes. One of the most advanced forms of CNC machining is the 5-axis machining.

This type of CNC machining provides unparalleled levels of accuracy and precision, allowing it to be used to manufacture parts with intricate geometries that would otherwise be impossible to create with traditional methods. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about 5 axis CNC machining: what it is, how it works, the benefits and drawbacks of using it, and more. So read on and learn all there is to know about this powerful form of CNC machining!

What Is 5-Axis Machining

5-axis machining is a type of CNC machining that uses five axes to create complex parts. It is similar to 3-axis machining, but with two additional axes that allow for more precise and intricate cuts. 5 axis CNC machining is often used for aerospace and medical applications where parts need to be very precise. The five axes are the X, Y, and Z linear axes as well as two rotational axes (A and B) that allow the cutting tool to move in more directions. This allows the cutting tool to reach all angles of a given workpiece and make precise cuts. 5 axis CNC machining also allows for parts to be machined from multiple angles without needing to be repositioned, saving time and money.

5 Main Forms of 5-Axis Machine

Double swivel: This type of 5-axis machine uses two swivelling axes to move the cutting tool in all directions. It is typically used for machining complex parts with tight tolerances. The advantage of this machine is the ability to make complex shapes with a high degree of accuracy.


Droop swivel head form: This 5-axis machine features a swivelling head that can be adjusted and locked in place for increased accuracy and efficiency. The advantage of this type of machine is its ability to quickly switch between workpieces and perform complex operations on them with ease.


Double-swivel table form: This 5-axis machine provides two independent axes, which allow the cutting tool to be moved in any direction without having to rotate the entire workpiece. The main advantage of this type of 5-axis machine is its relatively compact size, making it ideal for use in limited-space applications such as automotive production lines.


Droop table: A droop table 5-axis machine is similar to a double-swivel table but only has one swivelling axis instead of two. This makes it more suitable for smaller parts with more intricate geometries than a double-swivel machine.


One swing one rotate form: This type of 5-axis machine combines a swivelling head with a rotating table, allowing both axes to be adjusted for accuracy and efficiency. The main advantage of this type of machine is its ability to perform complex operations on parts without having to rotate the entire workpiece.


Types of 5-Axis CNC Machine


1. Horizontal Machining Centers (HMCs): HMCs are the most popular type of 5-axis machine, as they offer a good balance of speed, accuracy, and versatility. They are also relatively affordable compared to other types of 5 axis CNC machining.


2. Vertical Machining Centers (VMCs): VMCs offers a more compact footprint and tend to be less expensive than HMCs, but they are not as versatile or fast.


3. Bridge Mills: Bridge mills offer the largest working envelope of any type of 5-axis machine, but they are also the most expensive. 


4. Gantry Mills: Gantry mills are similar to bridge mills, but they are more compact and typically less expensive than bridge mills.


5. Milling Centers: Milling centres offer a more affordable option compared to other 5 axis CNC machining, but they are also not as fast or accurate as the other types of machines.

Pros Of 5-Axis Machining

There are several advantages to using 5 axis CNC machining for projects:

-Perhaps the most significant advantage is that it allows for greater accuracy and precision than other methods of machining. This is due to the fact that 5 axis CNC machining can reach all sides of a workpiece in one setup, which reduces the likelihood of human error and material waste.


-5-axis machining also offers increased flexibility when it comes to design. Complex shapes and contours can be more easily created with 5-axis machining than with traditional methods, making it ideal for creating prototypes or one-of-a-kind pieces.


-In addition, 5 axis CNC machining generally results in shorter lead times, as well as lower costs overall. This is due to the fact that fewer steps are involved in the manufacturing process, and less time is required for setup and cleanup between each step.

Cons Of 5-Axis Machining

While 5 axis CNC machining is a versatile and powerful machining method, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. 

  • One downside is that 5-axis machines can be more expensive than traditional 3-axis machines. 

  • Another potential issue is that programming can be more complex, which may require more training for operators.

  • Another consideration is that 5 axis CNC machining can generate more vibration and noise than other methods. This can lead to potential issues with surface finish quality.

  • In addition, the increased complexity of 5-axis machines means that there is a greater chance for something to go wrong during the operation.

  • Finally, the cutting speeds of 5-axis machines are typically lower than those of 3-axis machines. This can be an issue if high production rates are desired.


How do 5-axis machines improve gear manufacturing productivity?


5 axis CNC machining can improve gear manufacturing productivity by allowing for more complex parts to be cut in a single setup. This reduces the need for multiple setups, thereby reducing cycle times and increasing efficiency. Additionally, 5-axis machines can produce higher-quality parts with less manual intervention than 3-axis machines, which improves consistency and accuracy. The increased flexibility of 5-axis machines also allows for an easier transition between different types of production runs and part geometries.


5 axis CNC machining is a complex but powerful process that can be used to create precision parts and components. 5-axis CNC lathe machining is becoming more and more popular. With the right CNC machine, cutting tool selection, CAM software, and programming techniques, 5 axis CNC machining can produce high-quality results in minimal time. Although it requires a steep learning curve at first, the rewards of mastering this advanced technology are well worth the effort!

True Gear & Spline is a leading name in gear manufacturing. We use only the latest equipment to manufacture industrial-grade spline shafts, spur gears, and helical gears among others. Call us today to learn about everything we can do for you.