What is the difference between 3 and 5-axis Machining?

A simple 3 axis milling machine allows a part to be worked in 3 axes (X, Y and Z). These CNC machines work perfectly well and are capable of machining many parts. Problems arise when the part requires deep, narrow pockets. The work becomes very labour intensive and leaves a sub-standard finish.

Over the years technology advanced with CAM technologies 3+1 axis, 3+2 axis and finally 5-axis machines being developed to allow the cutting tool to reach more of a component’s surface. Now, with 5 axis machining the possibilities are endless!

Why choose 5-axis Machining?

A 3-axis milling machine will produce perfectly fine parts – up to a point. The additional two axes on a 5-axis machine enable greater machining control and precision. This allows engineers to produce components with complex features that once seemed impossible.

So, why not use an 11-axis machine, or a 43-axis machine, or a 1321-axis machine? Well, it would be a bit daft, trying to operate a machine with 1321 axes moving at the same time. In reality, and it may be controversial in some quarters, additional axes beyond 5 do not improve the machine’s precision or productivity enough to justify the additional expense.

The differences between a 3-axis machine and a 5-axis machine does matter. For instance, a 5-axis machine often need only be set up once to turn out parts exacting enough to fill orders for sector’s such as aerospace and motorsport. The cutting tool or the table can be tilted on a 5-axis CNC milling machine to avoid collisions with the tool holder, increasing precision. The tilting also extends the machine’s life-cycle to allow for consistent, optimal positioning.

What about the programming?

Both 3-axis and 5-axis machines run on computer-numerically controlled (CNC) programming. But, due to the relative simplicity of the parts produced, many 3-axis machines can run without programming. Instead, skilled machinists can make simple parts, or fixtures to hold components in place for their more sophisticated 5-axis counterparts to do the complicated work!

A 5-axis machine and the parts it produces, are only as good as the programming it relies upon. Investment in high-end software brings the machines to life! Without this investment, even the most skilled engineers are stymied!

Why worry about the machines or the software?

You do not have to worry about the machines or the software when you partner with the right precision engineer! Although it can be tricky to choose the right supplier, once you do, you have a friend for life!

Look for a precision engineering company that is driven by QED (Quality, Expertise, and Delivery on Time). Make sure that, with 5-axis machines, it can give you the quality you need in the quantity you want and that it uses the perfect software to complement its hardware as well as the expertise to run the machines, software and correct any problems that may occur.

This mix of high-end machines and state-of-the-art software permits fast turnaround times for your orders. Faster, quality production means that your parts will always be on-hand and ready to go when your production queue needs them.

Axis Precision Engineering

We’re ready to work with your company to engineer the parts you need to the specification you require! It’s easy to get a quote, you can send your drawings directly to us via the contact form.