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CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining is the technique of removing material from a workpiece using high-speed precision equipment and a variety of cutting tools.

5-axis machining refers to a machine's ability to move a tool or part in five different axes simultaneously. Basic machining operates on three primary axes. These are X, Y, and Z. A 5-axis CNC machining tool, on the other hand, can spin two more axes, A and B, giving it a multidirectional approach.

5-axis CNC Machine

A 5-axis CNC machine has two additional rotating axes, allowing for a wide range of machining options. Rotary axes A, B, and C, which rotate around the X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis, respectively, are examples of rotary axes. Despite the fact that these are three more axes rather than two, they are still counted as five axes in total. The combination of the additional axes is machine-dependent and can come in any AB, AC, or BC combination.

The cutting tool could approach the part from all directions with the additional axes, enabling undercutting only on machines with fewer axes if the piece was re-positioned with comprehensive fixtures. This situation in machines with fewer axes is not only time-consuming. Still, it may also present errors — Using a 5-axis CNC machine, you can prevent these situations.

How a 5-axis CNC Machine works

The 5-axis CNC Machine's cutting tool can approach the workpiece from any of the five directions. It rotates on the A, B, or C axes and moves the linear axes X, Y, and Z.

The corresponding axes and their movements are as follows:

  • Left to right on the X-axis.
  • Front to back on the Y-axis.
  • Up and down on the Z-axis.
  • 180° rotations around the X-axis on the A axis.
  • 180° rotations around the Y-axis on the B axis.
  • 180° rotations around the Z-axis on the C axis.

Explanation of the 5 Axes

3-axis machining may be something you're already familiar with. If not, it's relatively simple–it's a machine that moves sideways on the X-axis, vertical on the Y-axis, and back-and-forth on the Z-axis. With 5-axis machining, you get two axes. These are the tilting table (A-axis) and the table rotation (C-axis).

Configurations of 5-Axis Machining

Five-axis machines can be configured in two ways:

  • Swivel-Rotate-Style: These machines rotate the spindle to use the rotary axes. It is more suitable for processing heavier orders because the table is always in the most horizontal way.
  • Trunnion-Style: Trunnion machines have moving tables, which is beneficial for machining large volumes because a spindle takes up no space.

The type of machine you employ is determined by a variety of elements in your job, such as the weight of the pieces and the number of finished products.

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