5 Axis Machining Centers

The general concept of the 5 axis machining center is derived from the CNC milling machine. However, there is a distinctive consideration to be made whether milling-based machinery is a machining center or simply a conventional milling machine. In the era of smart manufacturing, orders are getting more and more diversified. Smaller quantities and greater customization make multi-axis machining centers one of the most efficient metalworking solutions in the industry.

1. The Advent of Multi-axis Simultaneous Machining

To explain more about this in a simple way: there is a wide spectrum of milling-based machine tool inventory. While conventional manual milling machines stand at the one end, and multiple axis CNC machines with automation system equipment stand at the other end. Conventional machine tools are designed at least with three axes, namely, x, y, and z, and for both vertical and horizontal models, either one could be equipped with other axes to build 5 axis machines. The exact configuration  also affects the requirements for the machinist operating the machine tool.

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2. What Is 5-axis Machining?

In the design of 5 axis CNC work envelope, the rotary table plays an important variable with the other additional two axes designed on the base, which are the x, y, and z-axis which can move onto two new working dimensions that permit multiple angles of possible cutting processes, granting versatile and complex profile cutting capabilities. There are different types of rotary tables for different applications such as trunnion type or mutli-platter types.

The utilization of 5 axis CNC machining equipment for simultaneous 5 axis processing of hard workpiece materials has long been concerned as high-end advanced CNC machines for industrial insiders. It is well known that ever since the functionalities of advanced milling centers have reached a certain level that normal machines can no longer keep up with, calling it a milling center or CNC milling machine is not appropriate anymore. Therefore, the term multi-axis CNC machining center became a more and more common occurrence.

3. What Exactly Is a Multi-Axis Machine?

In the modern metalworking industry, the machining center is one of the most efficient piece of equipment. We can distinguish three main types of 5 axis machines. For the first one, swing head alone is a type of multi plane CNC machine that is able to achieve most processing angles. There are other variations of 5 axis CNC machining centers, such as four plus one, and 3+2 axis machine, the latter with more practical advantages due to the existing three-axis compositions.

Traditionally, a machine tool is designed at least with three axes, namely, x, y, and z, and for both vertical and horizontal models, either one could be equipped with other axes in order to allow for 5 axes processing. With the other additional two axes designed on the rotary table, the x, y, and z-axis can move onto two new working dimensions that permit multiple angles of possible cutting processes. The same with the 4+1 structure and all these mechanisms are under the control of a computer numerical control unit that makes synchronized actions perfectly matched with the intended accuracy and performance.

4. The Machining Process

If the size of a workpiece is too big and wider than the size allowed, the machining would cause too much vibration to the machine body and thus deteriorate the precision frame of the machining center. That is not an acceptable situation to both manufacturers and the following supply chains. Hence, manufacturers might add some other structural designs onto the body in search of making it with better rigidity during the milling process. Regarding its milling capacity, as its name tells, is the process of machining that utilizes spinning tools to remove workpiece materials by advancing a tool into one or several complex parts. The process of 5 axis CNC machining could be achieved on different angles due to the additional phases. In the metalworking sector, the milling process of the machining center covers a wide variety of various operations and ranges a wide scale from single tiny parts to heavy and large milling operation tasks.

5. 3+2 and 4+1 Arrangements

Regarding the second kind of 5 axis arrangement, it is the 4+1 structure. It is under the construction of a 4 axis machine with one more additional axis as the base part, offering one more additional axis to the existing four axes for the operators. And the third kind is 3+2 axis structures, which is a three-axis machine added with a two-axis swing bed, offering additional moving capacity. Some manufacturers may add columns to the machining center, granting not only one more axis mobility but also better vibration resistance. Double column plus 5 axis functionality is one of the very practical solutions to solve the machining vibration issues while improving the accuracy at the same time. CNC Double column machining centers are a sophisticated metalworking tools that can deal with many kinds of machining tasks all at once.

6. What Makes 5 Axis Machines Even More Powerful?

Regarding the milling process of the double column 5 axis machining center, it is the process of machining that utilizes spinning tools to remove workpiece materials by advancing a tool into one or several workpieces. This cutting procedure could be done in different directions which are based on the box in box ways just like turning machines. In addition to turning, milling covers a wide variety of various operations and ranges a wide scale from single tiny parts to heavy and large milling operation tasks. Therefore, the study and development of the milling method are highly popular in the industrial world due to its productive and effective nature for rendering complex parts which are relatively hard to achieve by conventional turning lathes. With this expectation, the following development and the idea of machining center are thus gradually formed. The phrase “machining center” can be used to describe a wide variety of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) drills and mills machines that are accommodated with several critical but sometimes optional accessories equipped together with the machine body itself, such as tool magazine, ATC (automatic tool changer), power tool turret, CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine), multi-axis working tables.

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