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The Difference Between 3-Axis, 4-Axis & 5-Axis CNC Machining

CNC machining has developed into one of the most critical manufacturing processes in the world. Milling is an important technique used in CNC precision machining, which is widely used in medical, aerospace, optical and mechanical parts and other fields. Milling uses rotary cutters to remove material from a workpiece by feeding the workpiece at an angle to the axis of the tool. The axes that a milling machine has, determines the type of work and the locations in which it can be done on the workpiece. CNC milling is ideal for making angles shapes, slots, holes, curves, flat surfaces, and channels. It is efficient in removing surfaces with high accuracy.

In this article, we will introduce you the difference between 3-Axis, 4-Axis and 5-Axis CNC machining and which one is suitable for your project.

What is 3-Axis CNC Machining?

3-axis CNC milling is still one of the most popular and widely used machining processes. It is the simplest machining type, and workpiece is fixed in one position. The spindle can move in X-aixs, Y-axis and Z-axis. 3-aixs can manufacture products with simple structure , but it is not suitable for processing products with complex geometry shapes.

What is 4-Axis CNC Machining?

4-axis CNC milling works similar to the 3-axis CNC milling, which is using the cutting tool to remove material from the workpiece to create desired shape and profile. In case of the 4-axis CNC milling, there is an additional rotary movement around the X-axis, which is named the A-axis.

4-axis milling is useful when holes and cut-outs need to be made in the side of a piece or around a cylinder. They can provide quick and efficient work based off computer numerical inputs for precise results.

What is 5-Axis CNC Machining?

5-axis CNC milling operates along the X-axis, Y-axis and Z-axis and A-axis, as well as the rotational Y-axis, call the B-axis. With the B-axis, parts may be machined on angles about the Y-axis. The 5-axis CNC milling can process different sides of the workpiece without changing the position of the workpiece on the machine, which can greatly improve the processing efficiency of prismatic parts.

Because of the high versatility of 5-axis NC machining, it is used to manufacture complex precision parts. Such as medical parts, aerospace parts, titanium parts, oil and gas mechanical parts, military products, etc.

  • X axis – left to right
  • Y axis – front to back
  • Z axis – up and down
  • A axis – 180° rotation around the X axis
  • B axis – 180° rotation around the Y axis
  • C axis - 180° rotation around the Z axis
  • 3 Axis – X, Y, and Z axes
  • 4 Axis – X, Y, Z, and A axes
  • 5 Axis – X, Y, and Z axes and two out A, B, and C axes
How to Choose the Right 3-Axis,4-Axis or 5-Axis For Your Project?

Although the advantages of 5 axis are very prominent compared with 3-axis and 4-axis, not all products are suitable for 5-axis CNC machining, and those suitable for 3-axis CNC machining are not necessarily suitable for 5-axis machining. Here, we will tell you how to choose the right way for your project.

  • For some simple and high-volume parts, it is most suitable for 3-axis milling. For example, grinding surface features, cutting key slots and drilling out shallow holes can be completed by using 3-axis CNC milling.
  • For products that need to drill holes on the side of parts or cylinder surface, 4-axis CNC machining is the best choice. It greatly speeds up the processing process and has high processing accuracy.
  • For parts with complex structure and high accuracy requirements, 5-axisCNC milling is an ideal choice which offer unparalleled flexibility and speed. However, 5-axis CNC milling is more expensive than 3 axis and 4 axis.

Learning the difference between 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis CNC machining is an important step towards understanding which machining is suitable for your parts. At HordRT, we provides varieties of precision CNC machining services including milling, turning, EDM, wire EDM and surface grinding. Moreover, we have a full line of precision 3-, 4- and 5-axis CNC machining centers equipped with automation, and combined with rich experience, professional engineers and advanced facilities, we can handle all types of CNC machining parts in both small and large volume runs then deliver the highest machined parts to the market.

HordRT’s CNC machining services will be your best choice. Contact us to get an instant quote for your next CNC machining project!

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