What Is 5-Axis CNC Machining?

CNC machining technology has evolved over the last couple of years from simple machine tools to more sophisticated ones. 5-axis CNC machining is one of the most advanced processes available today. It implements subtractive machining technology to provide infinite possibilities in part creation. This technique uses cutting tools that work on five axes to cut workpieces into desired shapes and sizes.

5-axis machining offers increased accuracy and precision, efficiency, and reliability. The increased number of axes also gives 5-axis milling machines more outstanding capabilities than their counterparts. Moreover, the process allows complete automation and management with Computer Numerical Control (CNC). As a result, many reliable CNC machine shops rely on this technology for precision CNC machining services.

This article covers the basics of 5-axis CNC machining. Here, we will explain what’s 5-axis machining and how the process works, breaking down the different axes. You will also learn the pros and cons of using this machining process and its common applications. The information we provide will help you get the most out of the 5-axis technology.

This procedure involves the movement of cutting tools across five axes simultaneously. 5-axis CNC machines offer three linear axes working simultaneously with two rotational axes to achieve intricate parts. This typically adds more tilt to the worktable or tool spindly, allowing for increased rotation and movement.

A 5th axis allows machinists to fabricate up to 5 faces in a single operation. This makes the process highly efficient and precise. It also makes it suitable for creating complex structures and features with minimal setups. Since several parts require consistent machining of 5 faces, this process is becoming more valuable for several industries.

To help understand the axes in a 5-axis CNC milling machine, let’s explain what an axis count entails in CNC machining. A machining axis count is the number of directions the cutting tool (or raw material) can move to create the desired product. For instance, conventional CNC machines have three-axis counts. Consequently, their cutting tools can only move across the X, Y, and Z axes.

5-axis machining centers increase the functionalities of the linear axes by tilting (and rotating) the worktable. There are two additional rotational axes called the A-axis and the C-axis. The A-axis is also referred to as the tilting table axis, while the B-axis is the table rotation axis. Including these axes allows the machining of more complex geometries than 2-axis or 3-axis CNC machines. The table below summarizes the movement of the axes.


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