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.



Video: Think Twice Before Reaching for That Ballnose

By: Matt Danford
Another type of tool engages comparatively more of the work to facilitate larger stepovers for improved efficiency and surface finish in five-axis finishing operations.

The Subtle Clue That a Spindle Is About to Fail

By: Peter Zelinski
A shop that regularly replaces its spindles found the indicator predicting when this replacement would be needed.

Machining Centers Maintain Rigid, Stable Performance

By: Jedd Cole
This month’s curation of products focuses on a diverse variety of machining centers.

Toyoda’s FA1050S 5-Axis

March 2016 Product Spotlight Slideshow: Machining Centers

By: Jedd Cole
This month’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight focuses on horizontal, vertical and five-axis machining centers.

Vineburg CNC milling department

Making the Move to Five-Axis

By: Emily Probst
After the recession, Vineburg Machining Inc. started taking on challenging medical work, which meant taking up five-axis machining. Machinery from Haas helped cut scrap, reduce processing time and improve quality.


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