5 AXis CNC Machining Services

What is a 5-axis CNC Machine?

In the simplest terms, 5-axis machine involves using a CNC to move a part or cutting tool along five different axes simultaneously.

This enables the machining of very complex parts, which is why 5-axis is especially popular for aerospace applications.

5-Axis Machining Benefits

A 5-axis CNC machine’s specific configuration determines which two of the three rotational axes it utilizes.

For example, a trunnion-style machine operates with an A-axis (rotating about the X-axis) and a C-axis (rotating about the Z-axis),

Whereas a swivel-rotate-style machine operates with a B-axis (rotating about the Y-axis) and a C-axis (rotating about the Z-axis).

Inside view of the trunnion table of an Okuma MU-4000V 5-axis CNC machine

Inside view of the trunnion table of an Okuma MU-4000V 5-axis vertical machining center. (Image courtesy of Okuma.)

The rotary axes in trunnion-style machines are expressed via the movement of the table.

Where as swivel-rotate-style machines express their rotary axes by swiveling the spindle.

Both styles have their own unique advantages.

For instance, trunnion-style machines offer larger work volumes.

Since there’s no need to compensate for the space taken up by the swiveling spindle.

On the other hand, swivel-rotate-style machines can support heavier parts, since the table is always horizontal.

Why use 5-axis CNC Machining Services

Trying to decide between 3-axis machining and 5-axis machining is a bit like trying to decide between having a MacDonald’s Quarter Pounder or a T-bone steak; if cost is your only concern, then the former is obviously the way to go.

However, the dilemma becomes much more complicated when comparing 5-axis and 3+2-axis.

5-Axis vs 3+2 Axis

It’s important to distinguish between 5-axis machining Services and 3+2-axis machining.

The former—also called continuous or simultaneous 5-axis machining—involves continuous adjustments of the cutting tool along all five axes to keep the tip optimally perpendicular to the part.

The main advantage of continuous 5-axis machining over 5-axis indexed is speed.

Since the latter necessitates stopping and starting between each reorientation of the tool whereas the former does not.

However, it should be possible to produce the same results whether using continuous or indexed 5-axis.

It’s also worth noting that with the speed advantage comes more moving parts.

This leads to increased wear and tear as well as a greater need for part crash detection.

This is one of the reasons continuous 5-axis machining is more difficult from a programming standpoint.