Categories

 

G-Wizard Calculator:
Fast, Easy, Reliable Feeds and Speeds

Subscribe

Join 50,000+ CNC'ers!  Get our latest blog posts delivered straight to your email inbox once a week for free. Plus, we’ll give you access to some great CNC reference materials including:

  • Our Big List of over 200 CNC Tips and Techniques
  • Our Free GCode Programming Basics Course
  • And more!

 

GCode is Complicated
G-Wizard Makes it Easy

5 Axis CNC Benefits

Mar 25, 2012   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Techniques  //  6 Comments

5 axis CNC machines are the pinnacle of milling machine sophistication.  They’re the most expensive machines to purchase, and due to the complex motions involved, even more cost is involved with the need for the most sophisticated 5 axis CAM packages available.

What are the benefits of 5 Axis CNC that justify all this cost?

It’s Uber Cool!

I admit, this is not a business-worthy benefit, but how can you not get excited by videos like this:

Reduced Machining Time

Okay, this is a little more like it–reduced machining time.  What shop wouldn’t want that benefit?

The time is reduced because a 5-axis machine can use a flat bottom endmill and by maintaining perpendicularity to the surface (there’s a reason the tool or part swivels constantly in the video), you can use full diameter step-over instead of having to use little short stepovers more common to ballnose endmills.  Those of you running very small stepovers to generate a nice smooth surface can really appreciate the savings in this.

Better Surface Finish = Less Manual Cleanup Work

No more little scallops when you use that flat bottom endmill.  No more cleanup with elbow grease and abrasives.  Sweet!

Fewer Setups

When you can get at nearly every face of the part except for the very bottom, you have fewer setups needed.  Another big savings for 5 axis CNC.

Better Accuracy

Every time you change a setup, a little error will creep in.  With fewer setups, or perhaps even just 1 setup, this source of error is eliminated.

Machine Parts Not Otherwise Possible

Let’s face it: something like the helmet shown in the video wouldn’t even be possible without 5 Axis CNC.  Many parts that require a lot of undercutting will be much more difficult without 5 Axis CNC.

Less Competition

Not every shop is going to even have a 5 axis machine and the expertise needed to make it sing.  It helps to have an edge!

Types of 5 Axis CNC Machine

First, let’s take a look at the motions we’re looking for:

5 Axis CNC

5 Axis CNC Motions

The first possibility is the Swivel Head 5 Axis CNC.  This is the style depicted in the video of the motorcycle helmet.  There are several different variations on this used for purpose-built 5 Axis CNC machines.

We can also retrofit 5 Axis CNC to an existing VMC in a couple of ways:

The little sketch depicts what is commonly called a Trunion Table.  Think of it as a 4th axis with a rotating axis attached at right angles.  A Trunion Table is one of the easiest ways to refit 5 axis motion to a conventional VMC.

Another retrofit approach uses a 5 Axis CNC Head mounted in the taper of a conventional 3 Axis VMC.

5 Axis CNC Head

5 Axis CNC Head

 

Like what you read on CNCCookbook?

Join 50,000+ CNC'ers!  Get our latest blog posts delivered straight to your email inbox once a week for free. Plus, we’ll give you access to some great CNC reference materials including:

  • Our Big List of over 200 CNC Tips and Techniques
  • Our Free GCode Programming Basics Course
  • And more!

Just enter your name and email address below:

Full Name
Email *
100% Privacy: We will never Spam you!

Rate this post

6 Comments

  • I think your first two points about scallops and straight end mills are only true in certain scenarios, namely when you have flat surfaces or convex surfaces that only curve in one direction. Otherwise you’ll still leave scallops.

    • Convex won’t have scallops for sure. Concave amounts to the real shape of the wall, right? For example, all pockets are concave, but if I have one that is almost a 2 1/2D job but the wall has a draft angle, and the angle and the reach are such that I can access it, then no scallops there either. That’s your “curves in only one direction” case, right?

      Think about it as degrees of concavity (depravity?) then.

      Put another way, there are absolutely cases where you’ll still have scallops, but are they the majority (i.e. you only avoid scallops under these special conditions) or the minority (most of the time you won’t have scallops and can pick up a lot as a result with 5-axis).

      Certainly it will vary from part to part, but you should be able to get a sense of how often it comes up for your shop.

    • Thats as long as the end mill isnt in a concave corner then you will need a ballnose. Not to say it still isnt easier but to say you will still have blending to do

  • […] it in three pieces that would be glued together.  It had to be done this way because without a 5-axis mill, the cutter couldn’t reach all the nooks and crannies in one go.  He might have been able to […]

  • […]  34% more likely to do Five-axis machining with full contouring.  Five-axis has a lot of advantages and can really differentiate a shop for certain kinds of […]

  • 3D printers will replace this in the future and they print with more kinds of material.

Leave a comment

 

Do you want to be a better CNC'er?

Get Better Tool Life, Surface Finish, and Material Removal Rates.

 

Start Now, It's Free!

Home

Software

  GW Calculator

  GW Editor

  Gearotic

  Conversational

  Deals and Steals

CNC Blog

  Software

  Techniques

  Beginner

  Cool

  Projects

 

Cookbooks

     Feeds and Speeds

     G-Code Tutorial

     CNC Machining & Manufacturing

     DIY CNC Cookbook

     CNC Dictionary

CNC Projects

Resources

     Machinist's Search

     Videos

     Online Groups

     Individuals

     Reference Data

     Books

     CNC Dictionary

     Suppliers

     Tool Brands

Workshop

     Hall of Fame

     Organization: Soon!

 

About

     Customers

     Partners

     Our History

     Privacy Policy

 
All material © 2016, CNCCookbook, Inc.