The term “5-axis” refers to the number of directions in which the cutting tool can move. On a 5-axis machining centre, the cutting tool moves across the X, Y and Z linear axes as well as rotates on the A and B axes to approach the workpiece from any direction.
5-axis machines offer several improvements over other CNC tools at the cost of increased complexity and price of the machine:
- The amount of human labour is reduced, if the piece would otherwise have to be turned manually during the machining.
- A better surface finish can be obtained by moving the tool tangentially about the surface.
- More complex parts can be manufactured, particularly parts with curved holes.
- Increased tool life due to the ability to achieve optimal angles between the tool and machining surface.
- Higher quality parts. What once required multiple setups now can be executed in a few if not one, reducing steps and decreasing the opportunity for error.
From the ability to perform 5-sided milling operations to fully simultaneous 5-Axis machining, there are a number of choices when selecting 5-axis machining centres.
These two additional A& B axes may be delivered in a variety of formats: one style termed “Trunion Table” uses rotary tables (tilting and turning), another known as “Swivel Head” incorporating the tilting axis into the machine’s headstock and spindle.
WMT can offer Entry-Level solutions from 3 + 2 or 4 + 1, to full 5-axis simultaneous machines, and the machines are available with a choice of controls too (including Siemens, Heidenhain and Fanuc).