3-axis VS 4-axis VS 5-axis CNC Machining-Which is the Best?

Dec. 01, 2021

5 Axis CNC Machining Parts


The number of axes on a CNC machine determines the type of work it can do, the level of detail it can cut, and the workpiece locations it can manipulate. So what does this all mean? The following provides a better explanation of the differences between 3 axis, 4 axis, and 5 axis CNC machines. This will include introducing their basic principles, their differences, and how to choose one in your machining project?


What is 3-Axis CNC Machining?

3-axis machining is the most widely used form of CNC machining today. A typical 3-axis CNC machining process involves three mechanisms in part creation. One is the spindle up and down movement, while the others are by moving it side to side and back and forth.

3 axis machining implies that the workpiece remains in the same position while the cutting tool operates along the XYZ plane to trim away material. This is suitable for parts that don’t require a lot of depth and detail. 3 axis machining is most commonly used to produce mechanical components and is best suited for:

  • Automatic/interactive operation

  • Milling slots

  • Drilling holes

  • Cutting sharp edges


What is 4-Axis CNC Machining?

Generally, 4-axis CNC machining is preferred to 3-axis CNC machining as it speeds up and improves the accuracy of the production process. The 4-axis CNC machining process encompasses the same mechanism of action. However, from its name, there is an additional axis included.

In a 4-axis CNC machine, the spindle travels along three axes: up and down, side to side, and back and forth, while the workpiece remains stationary on the machine table. The 4-axis CNC machining further rotates along the X-axis, also known as the A-axis. This extra axis allows the 4-axis CNC machining to function in situations that involve hole drilling or cut-outs.

This rotation allows the workpiece to be cut around the B axis. This method is beneficial when holes or cuts need to be made on the sides of a workpiece. The addition of a fourth axis (A axis) allows a workpiece to be automatically flipped over, so the machine can remove material from both sides. 4 axis machining is multifunctional and can be used for:

  • Intermittent cutting

  • Continuous cutting

  • Engraving curved surfaces


What is 5-Axis CNC Machining?

A 5-axis CNC machining process is also a lot like a 3-axis CNC machining process. However, it comes with some very important features that provide those two extra axes and a great deal more cutting flexibility.

On a 5-axis CNC machining, the spindle and cutting tool move along three axes. However, there are other rotations about the X-axis (called the A-axis), Y-axis (called the B-axis), and the Z-axis (called the C-axis). 5-axis machines can utilize any two of these rotational axes, depending on their configuration. The A, B, and C axes perform a 180° rotation around the X, Y, and Z axes, correspondingly.

5-axis CNC machining is employed in different capacities based on this feature. It can perform milling, turning, etc. Therefore, you only need a single machine to work on several parts.

This type of machining is used in the automobile, aerospace, and boating industries. Application is commonly favored for extremely complex components that are solid and would otherwise have to be cast. 5 axis machining requires greater CNC programming preparation time to accommodate complex rotatory movement but allows one workpiece to be worked on all five sides during one operation. 5 axis machining is beneficial when components require a great deal of intricacy and quick precision. This includes:

  • Feature accuracy

  • Increased productivity

  • Higher quality finishes

  • Cutting intricate details

  • Machining complex shapes


The conclusion

Regardless of their particular configurations, all 4-axis and 5-axis machines can move their cutting tools in more varied ways, and from a greater number of angles, than 3-axis machines. This allows for more complex machining operations and increased accuracy and can eliminate the need for multiple setups. As a seasoned and specialist machine shop focused on CNC manufacturing for several years, XYT can provide precision 5 axis CNC machining services and 5 axis milling. Our engineers and machinists can perform accurate five-axis machining services and create five-axis machining to eliminate simplicity. No matter exactly how complicated the CNC machining parts are, each step will indeed be implemented with a strenuous attitude to supply extraordinary 5 axis machining components that demonstrate the most refined requirements. If you need 5 Axis CNC Machining Services, please feel free to contact us!

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