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What is the difference between 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis CNC machines?

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Update time : 2021-09-09 23:00:54
CNC machining is the manufacture and processing of parts and products under computer control.
CNC machining involves the use of computer numerical control (CNC) machines to shape and resize a piece of material by automatically removing the material. Typically, the material used is plastic or metal, and when the removal is complete, the finished product or products have been produced.
This process is also referred to as subtractive manufacturing. In order to perform CNC machining, a computer application is used to control the movement of the machine tool.
Its processes include the most common milling and turning, followed by grinding, EDM, etc.
CNC milling:
CNC milling is the application of a rotating tool to the surface of a workpiece, moving along 3, 4, or 5-axis. Milling is basically the cutting or trimming of a workpiece, allowing complex shapes and precision parts to be machined quickly from metal or thermoplastic.
CNC turning:
CNC turning is the application of a lathe to create parts that contain cylindrical features. The workpiece is rotated on an axis and comes into contact with precision turning tools to form rounded edges, radial and axial holes, slots, and grooves.
Compared with traditional manual machining, CNC machining is much faster. As long as the computer code is correct and conforms to the design, the finished product has high dimensional accuracy and very little error.
CNC manufacturing is the ideal additive manufacturing method. It can also be used to manufacture end-use products and components but is usually only cost-effective in low volume, short-run production runs.
Multi-axis CNC machining
CNC milling involves the removal of material using a rotating tool. Either the workpiece remains stationary and the tool moves onto the workpiece, or the workpiece enters the machine at a predetermined angle. The more axes of motion a machine has, the more complicated and faster its forming process becomes.
3-axis CNC milling is still one of the most popular and widely used machining processes. In 3-axis machining, the workpiece remains fixed and the rotating tool cuts along the x, y, and z-axis. This is a relatively simple form of CNC machining that allows for the manufacture of simple structures. It is not suitable for machining complex shapes or products with complex components. Since cutting is only possible on 3-axis, machining speeds may also be slower than four or 5-axis CNCs, as the workpiece may need to be manually repositioned to obtain the desired shape.
For 4-axis CNC milling, the fourth axis is added to the motion of the cutting tool, allowing rotation about the x-axis. There are now 4 axes - the x-axis, y-axis, z-axis, and a-axis (which rotates around the x-axis). Most four-axis CNC machines also allow the workpiece to rotate, which is called the b-axis, so that the machine can act as both a milling machine and a lathe. When we need to drill holes in the side of a piece or in the curved surface of a cylinder, 4-axis CNC machining is the way to go. It greatly speeds up the machining process and has high machining accuracy.
5-axis CNC milling has an additional axis of rotation compared to four-axis CNC. The fifth axis is rotation around the y-axis, also known as the b-axis. The workpiece can also be rotated on some machines, sometimes referred to as the b-axis or c-axis.
Because of the high versatility of 5-axis CNC machining, it is used to manufacture complex and precise parts. Examples include medical parts for artificial limbs or bones, aerospace parts, titanium parts, oil and gas mechanical parts, military products, etc.
You can check the below video to see how a real 5-axis machine your custom parts, additionally, we also posted another article about the difference between the 5-axis CNC machine and 3+2 axis CNC machine

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