Milling has come a long way down the years with the evolution of the 3, then 4th axis CNC machining centre, and now the 5-axis machine variant. But what is a 5-axis machining centre?
‘5-axis’ is a term that refers to the number of directions or axes that the cutting tool can move around the component. Unlike a 3-axis variant that removes material by moving the cutting tool in the X, Y and Z planes, a 5-axis machining centre moves the cutting tool across the X, Y and Z linear axes and the A-axis as well as rotating the cutting tool in the B-axis or alternately the workpiece in the A and C-axes to approach the workpiece from any direction. The configuration of each machine will differ with the cutting tool or workpiece rotating in one of the three A, B and C-axis planes.
Rapidly becoming the most popular machine tool variant, the 5-axis machine allows users to process five sides of a part in a single setup. This can vary hugely from one machine tool and vendor to the next, but by and large, 5-axis CNC machining provides infinite possibilities to effectively process parts. There is simultaneous 5-axis machining that applies the machine’s three linear axes X, Y and Z and two rotational axes A and B to simultaneously engage to perform complex processing on parts. Some machines adopt the 3+2 configuration whereby the machine executes a 3-axis milling program with the cutting tool set in its position and the workpiece adopting two rotational axes. This 5-axis positional machining relies on the part orienting in the fourth and fifth axes around the cutting tool rather than manipulate it continuously during the machining process.
Should I buy a 5 Axis Machining Centre?
The benefits of 5-axis machining are evident, well documented and well recognised. By cutting a component on a 5-axis machine, users can machine complex shapes in a single setup. This can significantly improve productivity, reduced cycle times, reduce and often eliminate secondary set-ups and with this, reduce any deviation for error that can be caused by multiple set-ups. It can also save time and money with fewer fixtures and clamping devices required. As the workpiece does not move across multiple workstations, not only is part accuracy improved but also capacity is freed from other machine tools in the business. The 5-axis machining centre can also achieve superior surface finishes and overall better part quality as users can adopt new strategies with shorter cutting tools that can attain higher cutting speeds and less tool vibration. Of course, if you are in the market for a simultaneous 5-axis machining centre, a 3+2 machining centre or a 4+1 configuration – whatever you need, GM CNC has a complete range of solutions to meet your exact requirements.
If you are not sure which direction to take, please contact GM CNC where we have a complete range of machine tools that cover everything from 3-axis to 5-axis vertical machining centres, horizontal machining centres (HMC’s), turning centres and multi-spindle turning centres as well as a host of other machines to meet your needs.
Explore the Victor 5 Axis Machining Centres from GM CNC here.