Three reasons to upgrade to 5-axis machining

For many in the manufacturing sector, the new standard in CNC machining is 5-axis.

Even small to medium-sized manufacturing companies are adopting these more capable machining centres.

But, why are engineers making this shift?

Across multiple industries, demand is increasing for more complex parts. This means machines need to be more versatile and powerful. 

The loss of machine uptime and the increased cost per part that come with 3-axis machining are driving more manufacturers to switch to 5-axis to meet this demand.

Perhaps your business is getting along fine with 3-axis machines, but there are still reasons to upgrade. 

Here, we’re going to dive into three key benefits offered by 5-axis machines over their simpler counterparts.

1. Boost production efficiency and maximise time

For many, production efficiency drives decision-making on the shop floor. 

This makes an upgrade to 5-axis machinery (and their increased efficiency) a compelling proposition. 

We’re sure you’ve seen a part needing multiple setups in a 3-axis machine to reach all sides. That means stopping the cutting cycle, re-tooling, and re-securing the part in place. This costs time, and as a result, harms profits. A 5-axis machine minimises the number of setups while reducing potential sources of human error.

Plus, 5-axis machines permit the use of shorter cutting heads. These shorter cutters enable higher cutting speeds without placing excessive loads on the cutters themselves. 

This is because shorter tools are less susceptible to vibration when used at these speeds. The tool can get much closer to the workpiece when using a mobile trunnion. This also has a direct impact on the surface finish and tool wear. 

A 5-axis machine, when properly programmed, can increase a factory floor’s efficiency via a significant reduction in cycle times.

2. Expand your business by cutting more complex parts

An upgrade to 5-axis machining can also broaden a manufacturer’s production capabilities. 

Cutting complex parts on a 3-axis machine may require multiple fixtures, machining programs, and CNC machines. With 5-axis, however, you can accomplish it all on a single machine and with higher accuracy. 

The ability to move about multiple axes at a time allows the tooling to easily cut intricate shapes. 

Because a 5-axis has the ability to cut holes or features on multiple faces and at multiple angles, complex parts that would otherwise require casting can instead be cut.
These capabilities make 5-axis units popular with aerospace, military, and automotive manufacturers.

3. Guarantee your ROI and save space

Decreasing setup times boosts your business’ profits.

Let us explain:

Traditional 3-axis machines can generally only cut one side of a workpiece during each setup, whereas a 5-axis machine can operate on more than one side in a single setup. This leads to less time handling the part, more time cutting the part, shorter lead times, and consequently, more profit. 

Having a 5-axis machine also allows you to expand your machining business to take on more complex jobs and/or those that previously wouldn’t have been cost-effective. 

With the increased precision of 5-axis machines, parts are also less likely to be defective – leading to even more savings and a higher ROI.

Lastly, because 5-axis machines can consolidate the functions of several 3-axis machines into one unit, more floor space will be left available for other processes (or more 5-axis machines). 

Though your procedures must be updated to run using the new equipment, the improvements inherent to 5-axis machining almost always enhance the shop’s overall flow. The economic benefits from this upgrade can compound to boost your business even further.

In summary: why upgrade to 5-axis CNC machining?

Ordinary 3-axis CNC machining can cut complex parts, but not without excessive machine downtime and an increased likelihood of defective parts. 

5-axis machines cut complex parts more efficiently and provide huge benefits to profitability:

  • Boost your factory floor’s efficiency.
  • Reduce lead times to your customers. 
  • Expand your factory’s machining capabilities.
  • Improve your profitability. 

It’s no surprise that 5-axis machining is quickly becoming the standard in the manufacturing industry.

Thinking of switching to 5-axis? Here’s some further reading

Check out our 5-Axis CNC Machine page and our ‘Ultimate Guide to 5-axis CNC Machining’ – here we explain how to get the most out of these ‘done-in-one’ machines. 

Have questions?
Get in touch with Kingsbury today to see which 5-axis machines best fit your needs.