5-Axis CNC Machining: An Overview For You To Know More About It

Dive into 5-axis CNC machining, a manufacturing revolution. Beyond cutting metal, it shapes the future. From aerospace to automotive, applications are limitless. Intrigued? Let's delve into its complexities and endless possibilities.

Table of Contents

What is 5-axis CNC machining?

what is 5 axis CNC machining?

5-axis CNC machining refers to the process of controlling cutting tools along five different axes simultaneously. This method allows the creation of intricate parts. Designers love it! With greater angles and approach options, complex geometries are shaped with ease. It elevates precision, enabling the machining of highly complicated components. A must for advanced manufacturing.

What is the “5 spindle” in a 5-axis CNC machine?

To help understand the axes in a five-axis CNC milling machine, let’s explain what an axis count entails in CNC machining. A machining axis count is the number of directions in which the cutting tool (or raw material) can move to create the desired product. For instance, conventional CNC machines have a three-axis count. Consequently, their cutting tools can only move across the X, Y, and Z axes. Five-axis machining centers increase the functionalities of the linear axes by tilting (and rotating) the worktable. There are two additional rotational axes called the A-axis and the C-axis. The A-axis is also referred to as the tilting table axis, while the B-axis is the table rotation axis. Including these axes allows the machining of more complex geometries than 2-axis or 3-axis CNC machines.

Below is a summary of the movement of the axes:

X-axis: Left to right

Y-axis: Front to back

Z-axis: Top to bottom

A-axis: Rotation around the X-axis (tilts forward and backward)

B-axis: Rotation around the Y-axis (tilts from left to right)

5 axis CNC machine spindle

The components of a 5-axis machining center

How does a 5-axis CNC machine work? A 5-axis machining center is an advanced CNC machine. It consists of a number of precision, coordinated 5-axis CNC parts that work together to achieve high accuracy and efficiency in machining capabilities. It can be controlled on five axes simultaneously. Its components are more complex than the common 3- or 4-axis machine tools.

  • Spindle Assembly: Incorporating the main spindle and spindle motor, this assembly is responsible for driving and controlling the rotation of the cutting tools.
  • Bed Frame: Serving as the fundamental support structure, the bed frame undergirds all other components within the machine.
  • Work Table: This component, vital for affixing the workpiece, can be maneuvered along multiple axes, allowing both linear and rotational movements.
  • CNC System: Through computational numeric control, the CNC system automates the control of the machine with remarkable precision.
  • Guideways and Slide Table: The smooth movement of the work table and other parts along specific axes is facilitated by these components, which are integral to the overall function of the machine.
  • Feed Device: By governing the speed of movement across all axes, this unit contributes to the agility and control of the machining process.
  • Tool Magazine and Tool Changer: Housing and switching cutting tools, this system enables diversified machining, thereby enhancing the machine’s versatility.
  • Cooling System: Utilizing coolants, the cooling system mitigates temperature within the working area, thus preserving the integrity of both tools and workpieces.
  • Lubrication System: Ensuring seamless lubrication across all moving parts, this system plays a critical role in maintaining the machine’s functionality.
  • Drive System: Comprised of servo motors, gears, and other driving elements, this system is essential for propelling the various parts of the machine.
  • Measuring and Detection System: Providing real-time monitoring, these tools safeguard the state and machining accuracy of the entire system.
  • Protective Devices: Including shields and grating, these protective elements act as safeguards for both operators and the machine itself.
  • Electrical Cabinet and Power Supply: The control of electrical power to the machine is housed and managed within this unit.
  • Operating Panel and Human-Machine Interface: This interface allows for interactive communication between the operator and the machine, ensuring a symbiotic working relationship.
  • Chip and Waste Disposal System: Responsible for the clearance of chips and waste materials generated during machining, this system aids in maintaining a clean and efficient workspace.

The type of 5-axis CNC machining centre

As for the mechanical design of 5-axis machining centers, machine tool manufacturers have always been relentlessly committed to developing new motion modes to meet various requirements. Comprehensive current market of all kinds of 5-axis machine tools, although their mechanical structures in a variety of forms, the main forms are as follows.

Header/Header Type 5-Axis CNC Machine:

Header/Header Type 5-Axis CNC Machine
Header/Header Type 5-Axis CNC Machine

The 5-axis CNC machine, with its head type design, features two rotary axes. Located at the tool’s rotating head, this design ensures complex movements. Flexibility is enhanced, allowing multi-directional operations.

Table/Table Type 5-Axis CNC Machine:

Table/Table Type 5-Axis CNC Machine
Table/Table Type 5-Axis CNC Machine

The 5-axis CNC machine, featuring two rotary axes on the table, ensures rigidity. This design is vital for machining complex geometries with high precision. Stability is enhanced, meeting the demands of intricate parts.

Table/Head Type 5-Axis CNC Machine:

A unique combination of rotary table and tool head defines the Table/Head type 5-axis CNC machine. This fusion enables multi-plane precision machining. Complex parts are produced more efficiently, transforming traditional manufacturing.

5-Axis CNC machining VS 3 + 2-axis CNC machining

5-axis CNC machining, a sophisticated process that allows the workpiece to move simultaneously along five axes, is particularly suited for the intricate geometric shaping required in industries such as aerospace and automotive. This method is renowned for its high precision and efficiency.

In contrast, 3+2 axis CNC machining is a simplified form of 5-axis machining, where three axes move in unison while the other two are locked in specific positions. This approach, which is more straightforward and less costly, is well-suited for medium-complexity part manufacturing. It’s easier to operate and learn, making it a practical choice for various applications.

The choice between 5-axis and 3+2-axis CNC machining hinges on the complexity of the project and budget considerations. While 5-axis CNC machining is the go-to for highly complex projects, 3+2 axis offers a more budget-friendly option for medium complexity. The decision, therefore, lies in aligning the specific needs and financial constraints of the project.

What is the advantage of 5-axis CNC machining?

5-axis CNC machining represents a pivotal advancement in manufacturing technology, providing an array of benefits from precision to production efficiency. Utilizing five axes of motion, this technique transcends traditional machining limitations. Below are the essential advantages:

High Precision & Repeatability

5-axis CNC machining ensures exacting accuracy with tolerances as low as 5 microns. An aerospace component, for instance, demands stringent precision, and with 5-axis technology, exact replication across thousands of parts is achievable.

Efficient Setup & Operation

By accommodating complex geometries, 5-axis machines reduce setup times. For a medical implant requiring multiple angles, one setup on a 5-axis machine can replace several traditional setups, cutting hours off production time.

High-Quality Surface Finish

With continuous toolpath control, 5-axis machining produces superb surface finishes. A luxury automotive part machined with this technology exhibits an unparalleled surface quality, reducing the need for post-machining processes.

High Production Efficiency

5-axis CNC machines streamline operations, fostering rapid production. For a production run of 10,000 industrial gears, the efficiency of 5-axis machining can reduce the production cycle by up to 30%.

Efficient Machining of Complex Shapes

 The 5-axis capability, such as 5-axis milling and turning, enables the crafting of intricate geometries that would be otherwise unachievable.The creation of a complex turbine blade, with its twisted and contoured shape, becomes feasible with 5-axis technology, ensuring structural integrity and performance.

What is the disadvantage of 5-axis CNC machining?

Five-axis CNC machining, while offering precise control and complex geometries, also brings with it inherent challenges. These can affect both cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency.

High Costs

The 5-axis CNC machining hourly price is high because the five-axis CNC machine price is expensive. For example, a typical machine might cost 30% more than a 3-axis counterpart. Maintenance costs are also higher, impacting the overall budget.

Programming Complexity

Creating programs for 5-axis machines is intricate and time-consuming. A simple component that takes an hour to program on a 3-axis machine might require three hours on a 5-axis platform.

High Skill Requirements for Operators

Mastery over 5-axis CNC machines demands intensive training. An operator with basic skills might take up to six months to become proficient, thereby potentially slowing production timelines.

What kind of parts is the 5-axis best suited for?

Curved and Surface Parts:

In aerospace, 5-axis CNC machines carve intricate geometries. Handling curves that challenge other methods, they craft complex shapes with precision. This ability is invaluable.

Multi-Angle Precision Parts:

5-axis CNC machining shapes turbine blades at multiple angles. Its flexibility ensures accuracy, achieving desired aerodynamic properties. It’s a standout solution.

High-Precision, High-Surface Quality Parts:

5-axis CNC machines meet demands for high precision and surface quality, especially in mold making. Cutting complex shapes with smooth finishes ensures quality.

Geometrically Complex Parts:

For geometrically complex parts, 5-axis CNC machining excels. Handling intersecting curves or non-standard shapes creates otherwise impossible or time-consuming forms. It’s a vital tool.

The 5-axis CNC machining application in different industry

Aerospace Industry

In aerospace, 5-axis CNC machines are essential. Complex components like turbine blades require precision. The technology offers this, reflecting industry needs.

Automotive Manufacturing

5-axis CNC machines craft complex car parts, enhancing efficiency. This technology, used for engine components, reduces costs significantly.

Medical Devices

For intricate medical devices, 5-axis CNC machines are vital. Artificial joints and dental implants benefit from unmatched precision and flexibility.

Energy Industry

The energy sector relies on 5-axis CNC machines for wind turbine blades and oil well drill bits. Efficiency and precision are key, marking a significant development.

Consumer Electronics

Crafting precise parts for electronics, 5-axis CNC machines ensure quality. Mobile phones and computers are prime examples of this technological advancement.

Art and Architecture

5-axis CNC machines find wide application in art. Sculptures and architectural decorations achieve complex designs and exquisite details through this technology.

Military and Defense

Military equipment production relies on five-axis CNC machining. Precise weapon systems and defense structures are manufactured, which is a critical aspect of national security.

What does 5-axis CNC machining cost?

The hourly rate for 5-axis CNC machining varies due to factors like material type, machining complexity, and regional costs. Machinery depreciation and volume also play roles. For precise quotes, contact CNC facilities. Prices fluctuate with market demand and technology. It’s vital to have up-to-date information. Below is a price on average

In Europe:

3-axis CNC machining: $35 to $40 per hour

Multi-axis (including 5-axis) CNC machining: $75 to $120 per hour

In China

3-axis CNC machining: $10 to $30 per hour

4-axis or 5-axis CNC machining: $25 to $30 per hour

5-axis CAM software and programming

You might be asking whether there is a software solution that offers 5-axes CAM for free. Luckily, various five-axial CAM software can be obtained for free, which may prove crucial in CNC machining. Such applications normally provide simple operation for initial users and are used in limited areas of production. Nevertheless, for complicated assignments, you might have to move to the paid versions with additional functions and assistance.

While at it, enroll in five axed CNC programming courses so as to equip yourself for successful machine operations. Such courses generally start with the basics, and then proceed all the way up to more complex concepts so that you equip yourself accordingly.

The Famous 5-axis CNC machine manufacturer

The Five-Axis CNC Machining Center stands as a cornerstone of modern manufacturing. Integrating cutting-edge technology with meticulous engineering, facilitates the crafting of intricate parts. This blend of flexibility and precision has catapulted these centers into a position of prominence across industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical.

For those interested in purchasing or investing in a CNC machining shop, understanding the 5-axis cnc machine price is essential. Among the renowned manufacturers of these sophisticated machines, we find:

  • DMG MORI, a name synonymous with innovation and high-quality solutions.
  • Haas Automation, leading the way in the United States with an extensive array of customization options.
  • Mazak Corporation, delivering exceptional performance across diverse machining needs.
  • Heidenhain, a German giant in precision engineering, focusing on accuracy in control.
  • Okuma, a pioneer hailing from Japan, celebrated for its reliability and advanced technology.

These manufacturers are not merely producers; they are visionaries. They represent the cutting edge of Five-Axis CNC machining technology. Through relentless innovation and exemplary engineering practices, they are shaping the future of an entire industry. Their contributions are not only advancing the field but also redefining what’s possible in the world of precision manufacturing.


On-demand CNC Machining prototyping and parts with Custom Finishes and low volume manufacturing.

Share this article with your friends.

Get a help or quote now

Add Your Heading Text Here