Increased Productivity from 5-axis Machining
One of the advantages of CNC machines that is often underestimated is the flexibility and versatility that 5-axis machining offers designers. Traditional CNC machines are able to move along 3 axes: the X-, Y- , and Z-axes at the same time. 5-axis CNC machines are able to operate along these 3 axes as well as 2 additional rotational axes, A- and B-, for a total of 5-axes working simultaneously. In general, the more axes a CNC machine can operate on, the more intricate and complex geometries it can fabricate. Thus, 5-axis CNC machining has a huge advantage over traditional CNC machines and is able to manufacture complex parts that are often not feasible with conventional CNC machines. Given its ability to fabricate more intricate designs, 5-axis machining enables designers the opportunity to create even more complex shapes and sizes of parts.
Traditional CNC machining requires multiple setups in order to rotate the part orientation to perform the desired cutting and machining steps. 5-axis machining requires a single setup and is able to work on every surface of the part at once. The advantage of a single setup is that the time required to machine a part is significantly decreased, increasing operations productivity and equipment utilization rates. 5-axis machines reduce the amount of non-cutting time on a given machine with faster workpiece indexing and higher machining rates that are feasible by using all 5 axes simultaneously.
5-axis machines are known for their enhanced accuracy and product quality. CNC machines execute the same program every single time for a given part - delivering precision, consistency, and quality. As noted, 5-axis machines are able to fabricate an entire part with a single setup. This is a huge shift from traditional CNC machining that requires multiple setups in order to rotate the part orientation to perform the desired cutting and machining steps. Each time the part is removed and reinserted into a new position, there is an opportunity for misalignments and errors. 5-axis machining with its single setup results in more accurate, uniform, and reproducible products. The unparalleled precision that is possible with 5-axis machines results in fewer off-spec parts that require rework – further increasing operations productivity.
There have also been programming advancements in recent years that further enable productivity gains for 5-axis machining. For example, the latest software enables more efficient tool paths during machining. There are also new programming features that are targeted at performing specific applications more effectively and efficiently, such as high-feed machining or blade and impeller cutting. These improvements may only save seconds or minutes but these incremental savings add up over time, contributing to a higher productivity and a more cost-effective solution for 5-axis machining.
CNC machining also delivers increased productivity due to automation. CNC 5-axis machining is highly automated, resulting in more rapid production as well as increased efficiency and uniformity – savings OEMs time and money.