The History of 5 Axis CNC Machining

The History of 5-Axis CNC Machining

Here at Ansini we utilise 5-axis CNC Machining for a number of manufacturing purposes, whether it involves the actual manufacture of complex plastic parts or the trimming of parts that have already been manufacture through a process such as plastic vacuum forming or injection moulding.

Whilst we are able to offer the simpler 3-Axis CNC Machining, 5-Axis CNC Machining is more commonly utilised as it allows for more complex plastic parts and components to be made with greater accuracy and precision.

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History of 5-Axis CNC Machining

The very first numerically controlled (NC) machines were built in the 1940s after being developed by John T. Parsons and Frank Stulen. Parsons came up with the idea of the machine whilst working on helicopter parts that needed to be specific and were complex to make.

New computer technology was incorporated into NC machines, and this created CNC machines as we know them today. The new CNC machines gained so much popularity and different programming languages were created. However, G-Code remains the most commonly used CNC programming language today.

Computer and digital technology was first introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. The software used to create CNC machines is referred to as CAD (Computer-Aided Design) This software allows for people to create a digital blueprint which is then translated into G-Code, so the CNC machine can understand the instructions. G-Code directs the needle across the A, B, X, Y and Z axis.

What is 5 Axis CNC Machining?

Put simply, the 5-Axis CNC Machining process is largely similar to sculpting and involves the movement along 5 different axes, X, Y, Z, A and B.

5 axis CNC machining allows for the material to be cut from all directions, which is ideal for complex designs or parts that need to be a specific measurement. Furthermore, 5 axis CNC machining removes the requirement to manually reposition the material to be cut, the process is fully automated

The utilisation of 5-Axis CNC Machining here at Ansini has allowed us to excel at creating a range of simple and complex plastic components that are utilised across a number of different industries including automotiveaerospace and agriculture.

What are the Axes?

There are a number of famous scientific discoveries that many of us are aware of yet many are unaware of the story of Rene Descartes and the Cartesian Coordinate System – the coordinate system we use today.

The story states that Descartes, who liked to stay up late, was lying in bed watching a fly on his ceiling. Whilst he was watching the fly he realised that he could define the fly’s position on the ceiling using three simple numbers which are referred to as the X, Y and Z coordinates.

This gave birth to the Cartesian Coordinate System and is still in use today, three centuries after Descartes’ death.

The Cartesian Coordinate system, however, is only responsible for three of the five axes in 5-Axis CNC Machining leaving two coordinates, A and B, missing.

These two coordinates are based on orientation and cannot be conceptualised in a three dimensional space. In regards to the fly on the ceiling these coordinates would be measured if the fly were to rotate on its axis.

The rotational axis around X is referred to as A, whilst the rotational axis around Y is referred to as B and whilst there is an additional rotational axis around Z, this axis is not commonly used in the machining process as it provides few additional benefits.

What are the benefits of 5-Axis CNC Machining?

5 axis CNC machining has many benefits, here are just a few:

  • Accuracy: 5 axis CNC machines are highly accurate and execute a blueprint to the exact requirements, this is great for mass production and helps businesses keep up with the requirements for parts.
  • Ability to handle complex requirements: The 5 axes on the machines allow for the material to be cut from all angles, giving the 5 axis machine the ability to handle complex designs and execute them to the exact measurements on the blueprint.
  • High quality finishes: The 5 axis machines are able to bring the part closer to the tools, the cutting tools are shorter in length and are less likely to vibrate whilst operating, this helps produce a smooth and consistent finish.
  • Fewer setups: With 5 axis machines, you can set up your workpieces at one time to handle all operations. This helps improve productivity and lead time.

5-Axis CNC Machining by Ansini

If you require the need for our 5-Axis CNC Machining services or any of our other plastic manufacturing services, such as plastic vacuum forming, then please contact our professional team today and we’ll be happy to help.

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If you have a question for us, or would like to discuss a specific project, please do get in touch.

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