When considering 5 axis machining, it is important to look at the differences between it, and the more common 3 axis cnc system. The most apparent is that a 5 axis system has the normal X, Y, and Z axis but can also rotate on it’s X and Y axis. This leads to a number of distinct benefits.
A major advantage of the 5 axis system is set up, as complex parts can be machined without having to re-set the work piece. This has the two fold effect of firstly, speeding up the machining process as the work piece does not need to be re-set; and secondly accuracy. The zero datum remains undisturbed during the process so reducing the likelihood of production tolerance errors.
Five axis machines can also utilise shorter, more rigid tooling, which is suitable for higher cutting speeds and lower vibration allowing more complex three dimensional profiles and deeper pockets to be cut without the need for a re-set, or a change of tooling. This again helps to ensure the accuracy of the finished part.
As profiles become more complex and demanding, 3 axis machines are not able to cut the angles and other geometric shapes that are needed. 5 axis CNC machines can fulfill these needs within the tight tolerances demanded.
As can be seen, 5 axis machining can offer real value in the machine shop and can take on more complex tasks without the need to re-set the piece or change tooling, but this does involve higher levels of CAD/CAM programming and therefore higher skill levels. However, the end product is undoubtedly better and can be produced to far more demanding tolerances than was previously possible.
There is a continuous development in 5 axis machining as new ways are found to utilise this precise technology and much of this is being pushed by industries need for more complex profiles. CAD/CAM is at the forefront of this push with programmers finding new ways to create difficult angles and complex profiles. Before 5 axis, much of this was not possible without resorting to the parts being made by hand or numerous work piece resets which compounds the chances of error.
Add to this the continuing research into tool technology and metallic processes, it can be seen that 5 axis machining is becoming more apparent and indeed necessary in todays modern engineering processes; and with the demands of industries such as aerospace and automotive only set to increase.
5 axis machining, with its ability to create complex parts and profiles, without the need to re-set work pieces and do this with incredible speed and accuracy, has become industries ‘must have’ piece of machinery.
PRV Engineering provide CNC and 5 axis machining services. If you need help or advice on your project, get in touch.