5 Benefits of 5-Axis CNC Machining

Posted by Brad Roberson in 5 axis CNC machining and CNC Machining on Sep 17, 2020.

At Roberson Machine Company, we believe that businesses of any type can benefit from 5-Axis machining, a form of computer numerical control (CNC) that simultaneously moves cutting tools along five different axes.

Similar to 3-axis machining —which moves vertical on the Y-axis, sideways on the X-axis, and back-and-forth on the Z-axis — you get two more axes on top of these: the table rotation (C-axis) and the tilting table (A-axis). With so many different directions of work achievable, some may believe that 5-axis machines can or should only be used for specialty projects and highly complicated parts. While it’s true that this type of machining can create the most demanding shapes that require incredible detail, 5-axis mills can also excel at simple pieces that require minimal work.

From industries that need to create simple parts (such as consumer and commercial) to those that require the most complex designs (such as medical and aerospace), any business in any industry can benefit from 5-axis machining. Learn more about why below or to get started today, call or contact Roberson Machine Company at 573-646-3996.

1. Ability to Create Complex Parts

While 3-axis machines have the ability to mill simple molds, they sometimes cannot handle the more complex designs because they’re simply not as accurate or fast enough to meet stringent industry standards. Projects with strict specifications call for the use of modern 5-axis mills.

Previously, there was limited software support available for these types of machines. However, the technologies behind computer-aided manufacturing and computer-aided design have advanced by leaps and bounds, allowing you to machine extremely complex parts from solid that would otherwise have to be cast. This means that you can now avoid the two months or more that it would take for castings to be finished. For example, if you have small runs or prototypes, you’ll be able to benefit from lead times as short as one or two weeks.

2. Single Setup

3-axis machines require a series of set ups which may contribute to overall manufacturing errors. For example, there is a possibility of incorrect alignment each time the part is moved. Whether this is the result of operator error or simple inefficiency, this type of setup can lead to downtime which equates to money lost.

By having a single setup, you can mill, bore, tap, and create any combination of complex shapes. You have greater machining productivity compared to performing the job in multiple setups, in addition to significantly reducing the time and cost of preparing fixtures.

3. Shorter Cutters

5-axis machining utilizes shorter cutting tools in comparison to 3-axis machines. This has two main benefits:

  • Extended tool life – When lowering and orienting the shortened cutter, you can achieve higher cutting speeds without the excessive pressure on the cutter. This means less breakage, therefore, extending the life of your tools.
  • Better surface finishing – When machining deep cores or cavities, the use of shortened cutters also reduces the vibration of the tool. With less vibration, you can achieve smaller cuts and higher-quality surface finish.

4. Time Savings

With the amount of setups required by 3-axis milling, there is a lot of lag time. Meanwhile, its 5 axis counterpart can complete the product in just a couple operations that take less time from start to finish, sometimes as little as two hours.

Furthermore, you can save time in two important aspects of manufacturing:

  • Drilling – Having to drill a series of holes with different compound angles is extremely time-consuming, and you would need to use a different setup for each hole if you used a 3-axis machine. With a 5-axis machine, however, the head can be oriented along the correct axis for each hole automatically, allowing for holes with various compound angles to be drilled much faster.
  • Removal of material – the 5-axis machine allows the cutting tool to remain perpendicular to the cutting surface, in turn, allowing faster removal of material. Since more material can be easily removed in each cycle of the tool, you can benefit from reduced cycle times overall and the costs associated with those.

5. Reduced Production Costs

Traditional 3-axis machines are only able to work on one side of a part at a time. When you have parts that require multiple finished sides, re-calibration and, in some cases, reprogramming, you may need to invest in labor and final product costs. Not to mention, the time to do all of this equals lost productivity. When you utilize 5-axis machining, you can reduce or fully avoid a portion of these production costs. The capabilities are endless!

Missouri CNC Machining | Roberson Machine Company

While 5-axis machining allows you to create complex shapes in a single setup (which means reduced production costs and time, of course!), these benefits do not come all on their own. Getting the desired results requires the right people with proper training, personnel, and communication to set up the tool and oversee the process.

Roberson Machine Company has been a CNC machining company and industry leader for more than two decades. We have delivered fast, turnkey CNC machined parts to the aerospace, medical, automotive, and recreation industries. Our technicians are passionate about CNC machining, staying up to date on the latest industry standards, and consistently providing complex, custom manufactured parts to our clients. Call our team at 573-646-3996 or request a quote by filling out this form today.


Brad Roberson / 

Brad Roberson is one of the owners of Roberson Machine Company. Please feel free to contact us to receive a quote or ask any questions you may have.

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