When choosing a CNC machining center, how many axes do you need for the CNC milling machine? It’s a tricky question for every CNC mill purchaser, therefore, let’s shortly enter the differences between 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis machining.
3-axis machining is the most straightforward type of machining, where the workpiece is fixed in one position. The spindle can move over three linear axis X, Y, and Z. In other words, the spindle can move back and forth to left and right and up and down. For some machined components, this is a perfectly appropriate way to get the job done. 3-axis machining is suitable for parts that don’t demand a great deal of detail and depth. And it is most commonly utilized to create mechanical parts and is best suited for automatic/interactive performance, milling slots, drilling pockets, cutting sharp borders. With 3-axis machining, the cutting tool’s angle remains uniform, pointing sideways or downwards, making it more difficult to cut away portions of the substance in hard-to-reach segments of the workpiece, such as crevices.
In a 3-axis machining center, it may be necessary to make several settings for one part. If the component needs to be machined on several sides, it may need to be removed from the unit, redirected, then returned to the machine for further cutting. Multiple settings’ requirements can drastically reduce productivity. Using 4-axis or 5-axis machining can decrease the number of setups needed and let you do more complex machining without adjustments and stops, thereby increasing your productivity.
With 4-axis machining adding rotation to the three linear axis X, Y and Z, it is possible to process more than one side of the workpiece in one setup. Using a 4-axis machining center instead of a 3-axis machining center decreases the number of setups and readily manages multi-sided pieces. A 4-axis machining center is perfect if you require high quality and a precise result and can, for example, be used for intermittent cutting, continuous cutting, engraving curved surfaces.
5-axis machining offers three linear axes and two axes of rotation that work simultaneously to achieve complex surface machining in a single installation. In a 5-axis machining center, the spindle can move on three linear axes (X, Y, and Z) and rotate on two axes (A and B or A and C) that work simultaneously. The main difference between 4-axis machining and 5-axis machining is the extra rotation added. When a 4-axis machine can process four sides of a part, the 5-axis machine can move a tool in five different axes simultaneously offers more flexibility and higher precision with less operator supervision. 5 axis machining is beneficial when components require a great deal of complexity and accuracy.