Metal Cutting

Five-Axis Machining Centers

Five-Axis Machining Centers do not just move in the linear axes X, Y and Z. Instead, these machines also move in two rotary axes, often identified as A and B. The rotary axes tilt the tool with respect to the part. Physically, it can be either the tool that tilts or the part that tilts. Different machines accomplish the rotary motion in different ways. Some machines move the rotary axes only to position the tool or work outside of the cut. This is referred to as 3+2 machining. Moving the tool in this way dramatically increases the machining center’s access to features at different angles or on different faces of the part. A machine capable of 3+2 machining often can reach all of the machined features of the part in a single setup. True five-axis machining refers to the ability to not just position the tool along the rotary axes, but also to feed the tool through the cut using these axes. Interpolated combinations of A-axis, B-axis and linear axis motions can allow the tool to smoothly follow a contoured surface. This type of machining has long been important in the aerospace industry, where machined parts follow the aerodynamic forms of aircraft.

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Featured Zone Content

A Smooth Transition to Five-Axis Machining


A mold manufacturer that specializes in precision, thin-walled container molds chose an integrated approach to establishing an effective five-axis “3 + 2” machining process.

Tool Monitoring for Multitasking Machines


Continuously checking the condition of cutting tools and responding appropriately to wear or other changes is especially critical on machines designed to complete parts in a single setup or run several operation simultaneously.

The Big Step Up


A small shop added two new machines, each of which is more advanced than any of the previous machine tools the company has used. One of the co-owners committed to the work of bringing both of these machines fully into service. Here is the shop’s experience so far.



Getting Acquainted with Scott Fosdick

By: Mark Albert
Scott is the new head of Market Region Americas for GF Machining Solutions, the brand that includes Agie Charmilles (EDM and laser texturing), Mikron (high-performance milling), System 3R (automation and tooling) and Leichti (five-axis milling machine for blades and blisks) and Step-Tec (machine tool spindles). I had the opportunity to meet Scott and get acquainted at the company’s Open House “Solutions Days” last week. Here is my report.

Bloodhound Fin Support Machined with Vortex

By: Peter Zelinski
Machining strategy contributes to 40 percent cycle time saving on large five-axis aluminum part.

Product Slideshow: Machining Centers

By: Stephanie Hendrixson
The March issue includes a spotlight section on machining centers. Click through the slideshow to learn more about these machines and others.

The Tactical Merit of Five-Axis Machining

By: Matthew Jaster
A job shop relying on homegrown talent to win aerospace and defense work expands its five-axis capabilities


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