While the concept of turning machines has been around for the better part of this century, it wasn’t until the 1940’s that NC (numerical control) manufacturing came to, thanks to John T. Parsons. By 1952, the first CNC machine was developed by Richard Kegg in corroboration with MIT.
Today, the technology has evolved quite a bit thanks to modern computing capabilities, machine targeting, and the wide array of alloys available. The invention of 5-axis and 7-axis CNC machining has given room to a much broader range of CNC manufacturing.
However, a common question remains – what are 5-axis and 7-axis CNC machining and which one is better and what function do they perform? In this article, we will look closely at the two technologies, their usage, benefits, and the industries that use them most.
5-Axis CNC Machining
The concept of 5-axis machining is fairly simple – the machine can move its tooling along five different axes, meaning it can reach a larger surface area with a single setup. It allows for a much higher level of precision when creating complex designs and shapes due to its improved ability to access difficult-to-reach surfaces.
A 5-axis CNC machining process also helps reduce costs and time as there is no need for manual reorientation or multiple setups, which would be required if traditional 3-axis CNC machines were used instead.
5-axis machines can operate along the;
- X-axis for vertical rotation
- Y axis for horizontal rotation
- Z-axis for depth of the part
- A axis for X axis revolution
- B axis for Y revolution
Benefits of 5-Axis CNC Machining
There are several benefits of 5-axis CNC Machining, such as:
- Increased Precision: 5-axis CNC machining provides a much higher level of precision than 3-axis CNC machining for complex shapes and designs. For example, in the aerospace industry, where precision is of utmost importance, 5-axis CNC machining is preferable as it eliminates the possibility of errors that can cause significant
- Time Savings: 5-axis CNC machining can help reduce production times significantly as reorientation and multiple set-ups become unnecessary. This means complex shapes can be created easily without less time compared to three-axis CNC machining. For instance, in medical device manufacturing, where precision and time are critical, 5-axis CNC machining can produce components faster than 3-axis CNC machining.
- Cost Savings: 5-axis CNC machining also helps with cost savings, as the same machine can be used for multiple tasks without purchasing additional machines or tools. A prime example would be the automotive industry, where even a tiny deviation from standard designs can cost millions of dollars in material costs.
- Improved Accuracy: The improved accuracy of 5-axis CNC machining reduces the risk of error considerably, making it an ideal choice for the aerospace industry for the production of crucial parts.
As a result of all these benefits, it also offers increased productivity in general, compared to 3-axis or other traditional forms of manufacturing. Precision manufacturing usually requires a 5-axis Swiss lathe, resulting in better repeatability and precision.
Industries That Use 5-Axis CNC Machining
5-axis CNC machining is most commonly used in industries where precision, accuracy, and flexibility is of imperative, such as:
- Medical device manufacturing
- Auto parts manufacturing, and more.
In these industries, the components must meet specific standards and tolerances with little room for human error or rework.
What is 7-axis CNC Machining?
7-axis CNC machining follows the same principle as 5-axis CNC machining with the addition of two more axes, making it a more versatile CNC machining technology. It usually includes:
- X axis for vertical rotation
- Y axis for horizontal rotation
- Z axis for depth of the part
- A axis for X axis revolution
- B axis for Y axis revolution
- C axis for Z-axis revolution
- E axis, which is the twisting arm
7-axis CNC machining offers much better benefits than 5-axis CNC machining, such as increased precision, accuracy, time, and cost savings with the added advantage of increased versatility. It enables manufacturers to create complex parts with intricate details in a single setup, eliminating any need for manual reorientation or additional setups.
These machining units allow you to remove excess material around a specific part AND turn them within the same frame; the manufacturing process is much smoother and quicker. With two additional axes, 7-axis CNC machining is much more flexible than its 5-axis counterpart. This allows manufacturers to produce components with a higher degree of intricacy and complexity in a single setup, reducing production times significantly.
Issues With 7-Axis CNC Machining
Though 7-axis CNC machining has its advantages, certain issues need to be addressed before using the CNC machining technology.
- Complexity: The CNC machining technology is more complex and intricate than 5-axis CNC machining, making it difficult for some operators to use.
- Cost: 7-axis CNC machining can be more expensive than 5-axis CNC machining as additional tools and machines may be necessary.
- Time Consumption: The CNC machining process can take longer due to the complexity of the parts being produced.
- Tool Limitations: 7-axis CNC machining can be limited by the tools being used, which may not always be able to accommodate complex parts.
Then There is The 12-Axis CNC Machining Option
12-Axis CNC machining involves using two heads along the X, Y, Z, A, B, and C axis. This allows for the production of complex components. The CNC machining technology is ideal for producing parts with high precision, accuracy, and impeccable speed, as the additional axes allow for greater flexibility and versatility.
If there is a rotating arm involved, it becomes a 13-axis CNC machine. The CNC machining technology is not as widely used and is currently limited for research purposes. This is primarily because of a major concern that it shares; the costs involved are considerably high, and the results may not always be worth the investment.
Ultimately, it depends on the type of application and industry as to which CNC machining technology is best suited for a particular job. 5-axis CNC machining is ideal for simple components, while 7-axis CNC machining is great for producing complex parts.
At Avanti Engineering Inc., we specialize in high-precision CNC machining solutions for various materials, industries, and raw materials. From different alloys to steel, aluminum, and more, whatever you need and for whichever industry, we’ve got you covered. So, get in touch with us today to request a quote and to see which one is better for you!