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The Benefits of 5-Axis Machining for your 3-Axis Parts


In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for 5-axis machining services, especially for the manufacturing of critical components and parts. But the majority of parts out there are “simple” 3-axis parts, right? The main reason for this demand is that 5-axis machining can offer a number of advantages and benefits, especially when compared to 3-axis machining. That’s why last year we installed our first 5-axis machine, a Matsuura MAM72-35v, and I am going to share what I have learned.

In this article, we will be taking a look at the benefits of 5-axis machining for 3-axis parts. We will also be discussing the increased productivity, improved quality, and increased machining versatility that I have discovered over the past six months and what can be achieved with this particular 5-axis machine.

What is 5-Axis Machining?

5-axis machining is a type of machining that uses five axes of movement. These axes are the X-axis, Y-axis, Z-axis, A-axis, and B-axis. The A and B axes are rotational axes that are perpendicular to the X, Y, and Z axes. 5-axis machining can be used for a variety of different applications, including the machining of complex shapes, the creation of multi-sided parts, and the machining of parts with difficult-to-reach features. These factors are a plus when applying the step to make a 3-axis style part.

The Benefits of 5-Axis Machining for your 3-Axis Parts

We were looking for ways to improve the productivity of our machining operation, we’ve been short staffed and the demand for our services was on the rise, so we considered upgrading to a 5-axis machine. We also wanted automation, to establish a 24/7 operation knowing that it’s unrealistic to think that we can just hire all the people that we would need. Though the initial investment was high, the potential benefits of this 5-axis machine were becoming obvious.

Increased Accuracy and Productivity

One of the biggest benefits of 5-axis machining is increased productivity. With 5-axis machining, you can complete parts in a single setup that would otherwise require multiple setups on a 3-axis machine. This can greatly reduce cycle times and increase throughput which we saw this right away. 5-axis machining can increase productivity in several ways.

First, by using a 5-axis machine you can perform multiple operations in a single setup. This reduces setup time and the need for multiple machines which can save valuable floor space.

Second, 5-axis machines can often machine parts faster than 3-axis machines due to their ability to reach around the part and perform multiple operations simultaneously. With the MAM, these benefits are multiplied, as the machine is equipped with 32 pallets and 330 tools. We could set up a multitude of jobs and schedule their runs throughout the day, evenings, and weekends.

Improved Quality

Another benefit of 5-axis machining is improved quality. By machining parts in a single setup, you can eliminate the potential for inaccuracies that can occur when moving parts from one setup to another. Additionally, 5-axis machining can allow for better surface finishes and tighter tolerances. 5-axis machining can also lead to improved part quality. By machining all sides of a part in a single setup, it is possible to achieve tight tolerances that may be difficult to achieve with 3-axis machining.

In addition, the increased accuracy of 5-axis machining can lead to less waste and scrap, as well as fewer rework and inspection costs. We have noticed that “problem jobs” on our 3-axis machine were “smooth runners” on the MAM. These were not complex shapes, but parts that we have been doing for years on any of our VMCs.

Increased Machining Versatility

I’ve mentioned the accuracy, productivity, and quality aspects we realized when applying the 5-axis machine to our 3-axis parts, but the 5-axis machine also increases the versatility of the type of parts we were now able to do. With a 5-axis machine, you can machine parts with complex geometry that would be difficult or impossible to machine on a 3-axis machine. We started to apply 5-axis cut paths to 3-axis parts. This has opened up new opportunities for our business. 5-axis machining also opens up new possibilities for complex geometry and challenging materials. With the ability to machine at multiple angles, 5-axis machining can create parts with geometry that would be difficult or impossible to create with 3-axis machining. In addition, 5-axis machines can handle a wider range of materials, including difficult-to-machine materials such as composites and titanium. The versatility is great

To Wrap Things Up

We’ve covered a lot in this article, but here’s a quick recap of the benefits of 5-axis machining for 3-axis parts:

  1. Increased accuracy and repeatability
  2. Improved Quality
  3. Increased Machining Versatility
  4. Reduced Scrap and Rework


It all sounds great, right? Well, it’s not all roses and I’ve run into a major problem that I will discuss in the next blog…

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