A quick look at 3-axis and 5-axis CNC machining centers: what are they? What’s the difference? Is it right for you?

A quick look at 3-axis and 5-axis CNC machining centers: what are they? What’s the difference? Is it right for you?

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When you are learning about the supplier’s production equipment, you may be confused about the “three-axis CNC machining center” and “five-axis CNC machining center” they mentioned. From the name alone, maybe five-axis CNC machining is better than Three-axis CNC center, but what are the specific advantages? Is it the best machine for your parts? In this article, we’ll take you through a quick introduction to 3-axis & 5-axis CNC machining centers, explain the differences between them, and whether one of them is right for you.

What is CNC machining center?

CNC machining center is a high-efficiency automatic machine tool composed of mechanical equipment and CNC system suitable for processing complex parts. It is also one of the CNC machine tools with the highest output and the most widely used in the world.
It concentrates the functions of milling, boring, drilling, tapping and thread cutting on one device, so that it has a variety of processing procedures. Therefore, its comprehensive processing ability is strong, and the workpiece can complete more processing contents after one clamping, and the processing accuracy is high. For batch workpieces with moderate processing difficulty, the efficiency is 5 to 10 times that of ordinary equipment. In addition, it can complete many processing that cannot be completed by ordinary equipment, and is more suitable for single-piece processing or medium and small batch multi-variety production with complex shapes and high precision requirements.
The CNC machining centers can be classified into single-axis, double-axis, three-axis and replaceable headstock CNC machining centers according to their functions. At present, the most popular ones are the three-axis and five-axis CNC machining centers.

What is the axis?

What separates the three-axis and the five-axis seems to be the extra two axes. But there are only two axes, why does the CNC machining center make such a big difference?
To understand this, it is first necessary to know what an axis is.
The axis is actually the line that the CNC machining center cuts along the machine tool. Take a three-axis CNC machining center as an example, it contains 3 core axes: X, Y and Z axes. The X axis is the vertical axis that determines the up and down movement of the tool, the Y axis controls the horizontal or left and right movement, and the Z axis determines the depth or cutting back and forth.
In addition to the core axis, there can be other axes. These other axes can be created when the material, table or cutting tool is required to rotate around one of the core axes. This means that the higher the number of axes, the more complex the operations the CNC machining center can handle.

3-axis CNC machining center and 5-axis CNC machining center

3-axis CNC machining center, as we have described before: during machining, the workpiece remains stationary, while the tool cuts along the three axes X, Y, Z, or left to right, front to back, top to Cut down.
Three-axis machining is still one of the most widely used techniques for manufacturing machine parts, and can be used for automatic/interactive operations, milling, drilling and cutting sharp edges, but these are the most basic machining processes.
3-axis machining can be difficult when dealing with some unconventional shapes or parts with hard-to-reach deep, narrow cavities. In addition, if a 3-axis CNC machining center is used to process parts with complex geometries, the operator will most likely need to manually reposition the workpiece, which will slow down the processing speed, increase labor and reprocessing costs, and lead to unsatisfactory surface effects of the parts. .

The 5-axis CNC machining center adds A-axis and B-axis on the basis of 3-axis. During machining, the workpiece remains stationary and the tool moves in five different directions. With this configuration, the part can be accessed from all directions and can be machined from five sides in a single operation.
Five-axis machining is one of the most popular technologies today, allowing parts to be approached from all directions in a single operation, and this multi-dimensional rotation and tool movement allows five-axis to produce workpieces with unparalleled precision, finish and speed. As a result, 5-axis machining is ideal for manufacturing complex and precise parts, such as those in the medical, oil and gas, and aerospace industries.
However, five-axis machining is more expensive due to the required specialized equipment and expert workers.

Which CNC machining center is right for you?

3-axis CNC machining centers and 5-axis CNC machining centers, both are highly versatile, automated and reproducible production processes that allow you to create accurate components quickly and cost-effectively. However, you may choose to use one or the other for various reasons.
If you’re on a budget or just need a cutting plane, a 3-axis CNC machining center might be the way to go.
If you need to produce deeper parts or parts with complex geometries, you may want to use a 5-axis CNC machining center.

Hope the above content can help you.

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