5-axis CNC machining is a highly advanced method of processing that enables the production of complex parts while accentuating the component quality and cutting accuracy. The 5-axis CNC machine is a versatile manufacturing center, and when it is in operation, the tool simultaneously moves on five different axes: two rotational and three linear axes. Compared to a 3-axis CNC machine, the capabilities of a 5-axis machine are so much more diverse and superior.
You can configure the 5-axis machines to get rid of multiple setups, decreasing the need for constant supervision while augmenting efficiency. Read along to know more about these high-end machines.
The workings of 5-axis CNC machining
The 5-axis CNC machines come in several forms, and the most common ones are drop table, drop swivel head, one swing one rotate, double swivel table, and double swivel head.
The primary difference between the different kinds of 5-axis CNC machining service is where the rotational axes appear on the machines. For example, these machines may have the rotation in swiveling the tool head against moving the table or a still material, and hence, the object.
Typically, swivel head machines can facilitate heavier and larger objects as it doesn't have to maneuver the object. But the rotating table machines provide speed and stability for lightweight materials.
Here, take a look at some more examples of 5-axis machines:
- Trunnion table design: The rotation degree offers better undercut capability while facilitating massive work volume on this machine. The lack of a swivel head means there's no need to compensate for space. Also, the stationary spindle enables low-end torque as it is belt-driven.
- Swivel head with rotary table: The machine allows for heavy objects because it has a large table. It maintains versatility, thanks to the space on the table. Tool interference is avoided because of the machine's swivel head.
- Traveling column design: Compared to the machines mentioned above, this one is more rigid. Therefore, the machine is much more stable and minimizes movement. It helps to promote repeatability of design and repeated precision.
Primary applications of 5-axis CNC machining
Initially, 5-axis CNC machines were exclusively used in the aerospace sector to cater to specific requirements. However, today, approximately 60% of all parts produced with machine tools need the help of 5-axis CNC machining. That's why these machines are highly popular across all sectors. Some of the common applications are mentioned below.
- Aerospace industry
Manufacturing planes need contoured edges and smooth shapes for several components. Therefore, the accuracy and precision that a 5-axis CNC machine tool achieves are invaluable for this industry since the parts are unique, complex, and quite intricate.
- Automotive industry
One of the first industries to utilize 5-axis CNC machine technology was the automotive industry since this sector has precise and sophisticated requirements. Thanks to multi-axis manufacturing, complicated geometries could be produced with great ease while ensuring that the CNC tools remain tangent during the multi-directional cutting steps.
Several car parts, including headlight, gearboxes, wheel components, drive axles, chassis, and backlight, are produced using 5-axis CNC machines.
The 5-axis machine tool is also frequently used for manufacturing military equipment and components. Some of the components that use these machines are compressor and turbine blades, submarine parts, weapon parts, high-performance engines, etc.
- Healthcare industry
When it comes to manufacturing medical equipment, 5-axis CNC machines are widely used. After all, precision is of utmost importance and key to maintaining strict healthcare standards. The 5-axis machines help cut intricate and small parts while keeping the money and time investment at a feasible level.
Similarly, 5-axis machines are used in food processing, the energy sector, and even pharmaceuticals. The possibilities of 5-axis CNC machining are endless.
The benefits of 5-axis CNC machines
- Accurate and complex machining capabilities
The machines make it possible to cut small and intricate parts with great precision and accuracy. In traditional machining methods, you would need additional manufacturing steps. But using 5-axis machine tools, you can finish the cutting process in a single step.
- Enhanced productivity
As already mentioned, simultaneous machining is possible with 5-axis machines. Therefore, it is possible to cut your components and parts from all angles and sides more accurately and in a much shorter time.
The machines decrease the CNC processing steps, and hence, the manufacturing chain is shortened, and the overall productivity is increased.
- Considerable reduction in cost
As the 5-axis CNC machines boost the manufacturing process of components and parts, the overall production time is reduced. Therefore, it results in reducing the overall cost of production.
Additionally, the labor costs are also reduced. Each time an operator touches a machine, there are costs incurred. But 5-axis machines reduce the time it takes to re-fixture parts, and therefore, labor costs are reduced. In addition, since the operators don't need to touch a part as many times as in traditional machining methods, the costs are kept low.
- The lead time is significantly reduced
The 5-axis machine tools help accentuate the manufacturing process, which is particularly useful in the aerospace and automotive industry as they have to fulfill the expectation to market parts or components in the shortest possible time. The machines help reduce the lead time to just a few days compared to a few weeks.
- Better use of the floor space
By opting for 5-axis machines, you can get rid of the other machines, which can enhance the space available on the shop floor.
- Enjoy much great flexibility and precision
These machines offer unparalleled precision and flexibility compared to a 3+2 or 3 axis machine. The overall accuracy and performance of the 5-axis machines are lauded across industries. In addition, you can be assured that the finished product will meet lofty quality, reliability, and safety standards.
To sum up, 5-axis CNC machining improves overall productivity and reduces costs by decreasing human error, accentuating uptime, and eliminating the requirement of special fixtures. If you still haven't started using these machines, it is high time to consider them.