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The Difference And Role of CNC 3-axis, 4-axis And 5-axis Machining

Views: 50     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-12-26      Origin: Site


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Understanding the intricacies of CNC machining is crucial for manufacturing precision parts. In modern manufacturing, CNC machines with 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis capabilities are commonly utilized. This article delves into the principles of each axis configuration and provides recommendations for selecting the most efficient machining solution for various projects.


Three-axis CNC machining

Three-axis CNC machining is the fundamental and most prevalent form of CNC machining. It involves a stationary workpiece and a rotary tool that moves along the x, y, and z axes to trim excess material from the part. While suitable for manufacturing basic structures, three-axis machining has limitations when it comes to producing complex geometries or components.

Benefits of 3-axis CNC machining include :

  • Cost-effectiveness: Three-axis CNC machining is well-suited for rapid production of basic geometries and simple parts. Additionally, programming and setup for production runs are relatively straightforward.

  • Versatility: This machining process is highly versatile, allowing for various operations such as drilling, milling, and turning by simply changing tools. Moreover, three-axis CNC machines often feature automatic tool changers, further extending their capabilities.

3-axis machiningof Limitations  :

  • Design limitations: Three-axis CNC machining is restricted to basic shapes and geometries and cannot create undercut features or complex shapes achievable with higher-axis machines.

  • Multiple setups: Since the workpiece remains stationary, machinists must reorient it several times to machine other faces, leading to decreased accuracy and increased setup time.

  • Poor surface finish: Three-axis machining may result in relatively poor surface finish, particularly in Z-cutting, due to tool elongation and increased vibration.



Four-axis CNC machining

Four-axis CNC machining builds upon three-axis machining by adding a rotary axis, enabling more straightforward machining of complex features. In this process, the tool moves freely along the x, y, and z axes, while the workpiece can be rotated around the x-axis.

Advantages of 4-axis CNC machining include :

  • Design complexity: The addition of a rotary axis allows for the production of intricately detailed parts and facilitates machining on multiple faces at various angles.

  • High precision and accuracy: Four-axis CNC machines can access multiple sides of a workpiece without the need for fixture adjustments, resulting in highly accurate parts meeting stringent standards.

  • Increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness: With most operations requiring only one clamping, four-axis machining minimizes downtime and production costs compared to three-axis machining.

Limitations of 4-axis CNC machining :

  • Higher running costs: Operating a four-axis CNC machine entails higher costs due to additional machine features and specialized labor required for operation.

CNC Turning Service 

5-axis CNC machining

Five-axis CNC machining represents the pinnacle of precision and complexity in CNC machining technology. It allows for high-precision machining of complex curved parts by simultaneously controlling movement along five axes.

Advantages of 5-axis CNC machining include :

  • Improved processing quality and efficiency: Five-axis CNC machining reduces clamping costs, scratches, and bruises, making it suitable for parts with strict precision requirements.

  • Expanded processing capabilities: This technology enables efficient and precise machining of complex surfaces, meeting the demands of modern manufacturing.

  • Meeting composite development: Five-axis CNC machining integrates computer control, high-performance servo drive, and precision machining technology to meet the demands of complex part manufacturing.


5-axis CNC machiningof Limitations  :

  • Operational complexity: Programming and operating a five-axis CNC machine can be complex, especially when incorporating special features.

  • Higher cost: The complexity of five-axis CNC machining results in higher costs compared to lower-axis machines due to CNC programming, system requirements, and machine structure.


How to choose the best 3-, 4- and 5-axis machining solution

  • Three-axis machining: Economical choice for basic geometries and simple structures.

  • Four-axis machining: Ideal for parts with complex features requiring machining on multiple sides.

  • Five-axis machining: Suited for intricate parts with high precision and complexity.


Industry applications for 3-, 4- and 5-axis machining

Three-axis machining: Widely used in electronics, automotive, aerospace, and other industries for manufacturing basic parts.

Four-axis machining: Offers enhanced capabilities for curved geometries and intricate features.

Five-axis machining: Ideal for precision manufacturing of complex metal parts across various industries.


Selecting the optimal machining solution requires careful consideration of factors such as product design, efficiency, accuracy, and cost. ZONZE offers tailored manufacturing solutions to meet the diverse needs of its clients.

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