What is 5 Axis CNC machining?

How does the 5 Axis CNC machining process work?

5 Axis CNC machining is an advanced cutting and trimming method that helps create the highest quality plastic parts and is often always an added service, usually paired with a plastic parts manufacturing process such as vacuum forming.

5 Axis CNC Machining

A large block of material or newly moulded plastic product is placed under the CNC machine and secured in place. Commonly with clamps or placed on a jig fixture and aided with a vacuum.

Excess material is then removed by the cutting tool until the end product is finished to a high quality in accordance with the design specifications. This is known as a subtractive process unlike something additive such as 3D printing.

Many machines operate on a 3 axis basis but the additional rotating axis used in 5 Axis CNC machining allows more simultaneous movements which allow for smoother, more intricate designs to be cut with high precision. Due to the complexity of this process, you will also require CAD and CAM software to ensure that the machining process is completed correctly and accurately.

Differences between 3 and 5 Axis CNC machining?

Both 3 and 5 Axis CNC machining can achieve accurate trimming and cutting capabilities and there is only one major difference between the two processes.

3 Axis CNC machining is the more traditional machining method and, as the name suggests, works on 3 different axes; X, Y and Z. The 3 Axis CNC machining process removes material along these three basic axes and these three axes alone.

5 Axis CNC machining, however, works on those same three axis, X, Y and Z, as well as two more; A and B. The A and B axes are the axes around which the cutting tool rotates allowing for more precise and more detailed cutting, trimming and finishing. With 5 Axis CNC machining, the plastic part being cut can be approached from all directions and worked on from five separate sides in a single operation.

Whilst the difference between the two processes is slight, it completely changes the types of parts they can be used for. For example 3 Axis CNC machining is more suited to flat, shallower and less complex parts but is often more time efficient.

Conversely 5 Axis CNC machining takes longer to complete but is ideal for deeper plastic parts that are more complex or require greater precision with the cuts being made.

What are the advantages of 5 Axis CNC machining?

CNC MachiningAs with all plastic manufacturing and cutting processes, 5 Axis CNC machining has its unique advantages and is often the preferred method for cutting and trimming plastic parts to a high standard.

The advantages of using 5 Axis CNC machining include:

Minimised Setup

When working on a complex part that requires cutting on multiple faces across multiple surfaces, there is a lengthy stop and start process with 3 Axis machining as the machine needs to be set up differently for each surface it works on.

Due to the additional axes of 5 Axis CNC machining, all the cutting and trimming can be completed with a single machine set up as a 5 Axis machine can work on multiple surfaces in a single operation.

This minimised set up removes the need to remove the part from the machine, which allows for faster material removal as well as increased rotational accuracy as a task involving multiple complex cuts can be completed in a single set up.

Higher Quality Surface Finishes

The two additional axes of 5 Axis CNC machining allows you to bring the part closer to the cutting tool. This allows for the use of a shorter cutting tool, which is less susceptible to vibrations and movement at high cutting speeds. This helps to achieve a smoother, cleaner cut and surface finish which increases the quality of your plastic parts.

More Complex Designs

As mentioned previously, the additional axes allow for more precise, deeper cuts which are often required for more complex designs. The capability to create a complex and precise design is something 3 Axis CNC machining is unable to do, making 5 Axis CNC machining the preferred option for creating and finishing the highest quality parts.

Get in Touch

For more information about our 5 Axis CNC machining, CNC routing or CNC machining services or to arrange a free consultation to discuss your requirements, please contact Ansini today on 01623 812333 or email info@ansini.co.uk.

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