Is 5-axis CNC machining really worth the investment?
It wasn’t that long ago that metal fabricators and manufacturers were asking themselves why they should switch from the manual milling machines they used to CNC machining. Today, when it comes to investing in 5-axis machining technology, the situation is much the same. Many have fallen behind simply because they didn’t move to CNC early enough. When it comes to competing effectively and staying ahead, companies need to invest in the latest technology.
The term “5-axis” machining can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the concept. Many manufacturers and business owners believe that they don’t have the amount of work that requires using this type of process. Given that five-sided machining is possible on a 5-axis machining center, there are many ways in which using a 5-axis CNC machine can be beneficial. This means that even without simultaneous 5-axis machining, more profit can be made if parts that are currently made on 3-axis machines are made on a 5-axis machining center using 5-axis machining.
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Why is 5-axis CNC machining the best choice?
Using 3-axis machines requires multiple setups for each side of the workpiece, setup time increases, and accuracy decreases. On the other hand, 5-axis CNC machining reduces part-time, improves accuracy, and expands the shop’s options for future jobs.
Is simultaneous 5-axis CNC machining even better?
Yes, 5-axis simultaneous CNC machining has both advantages and disadvantages, but in some aspects, it is slightly better. For example, while 5-way machining is always impressive, simultaneous 5-axis machining is much faster. If a part can actually be made with 5-sided machining rather than simultaneous 5-axis machining, there is no harm in using it. However, there are advantages to both. The advantages of 5-axis machining are that it is fairly fast, it is easy to program, the roughing strategy is remarkable, and tool interference problems are generally minor. The advantages of simultaneous 5-axis CNC machining are that the surface finish is usually much better, tools can easily reach hard-to-reach areas, and tool life is usually longer.
One example where you should definitely consider using simultaneous 5-axis CNC machining is in mold making. There are usually limitations when making molds using 3-axis machining, especially when making core molds, which are usually taller, or molds with deep cavities.
A 3-axis CNC machining center can be used for mold machining. But when it comes to molds with deep cavities, long and thin tools must be used. When using these long and thin tools, you need to slow down the feed. To minimize chatter and avoid tool breakage. Often the desired surface finish can be achieved by using 3-axis machining to machine the molds. For fine finishing operations, especially for small diameter molds, the process can be more complex than necessary with 3-axis machining.
With simultaneous 5-axis CNC machining, shorter and steadier tools can be used, allowing faster feeds with higher feed rates. With simultaneous 5-axis machining, heavier cuts can be made and z-depth does not become an issue. As a result, machine usage time is also drastically reduced.
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