Benefits of 5-Axis CNC Machining

5-axis CNC Machining

Back in the day, maybe only chisel and hammer were the best tools available to people. But at present, using these tools would take years and will not be useful or productive enough for the present assembling needs. But if you want to carve your idea into reality then you need the best gadgets and technology. Regardless of whether you need to create a work of art from plastic, foam, or metal, 5-axis CNC machining will probably present to you the best and speediest outcomes. 

This article explains every detail pertaining to 5-axis machining. It addresses the configuration and working of these machines, and its various applications and benefits are also elaborated. If you are interested in knowing about this amazing precision technique then read on.

What is 5-axis CNC Machining?

René Descartes (A French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist) invented a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system. Which is used to make measurements in-plane and the first three linear axes of these machines out of the five are calculated using X, Y, and Z (variables used in a Cartesian coordinate system).


A fly was the reason behind the invention of the Cartesian coordinate system. Descartes saw a fly buzzing and he suddenly thought of determining its position. He used his room’s three-dimensional space along with three measurement variables (X, Y, and Z). This thought resulted in the creation of the Cartesian system.

Now if we consider that fly is rotating and we are instead interested in discovering its orientation. Just replicate the rolling fly with the workpiece or blank not moving linearly but orienting. To describe this rolling movement, we need extra two axes i.e. 4th and 5th axes. These same axes are used in 5-axis machines. Fly’s rotational axis is elaborated with the 4th axis (rotational axis around X) and its pitch is described using the 5th axis (rotational axis around Y).

In simple words, a computer numerical control process that makes the use of five distinct axes all together to adjust a workpiece or cutting tool in the right direction is referred to as 5-axis CNC machine. It has three linear axes and the remaining two are rotational axes. One style uses rotary tables and the other style incorporates the rotary axes into the machine’s headstock and spindle.

The capability of executing rotational motion in two extra axes equips and enables five-axis machines to generate very complex geometrical shapes up against three-axis machines. Therefore, this is beneficial in saving time, money, and many other things.

Configurations of 5-Axis Machining

There are two major configurations of 5-axis machines

Swivel Rotate Style

These CNC machines use the rotary axes by rotating the spindle. This style is best for machining heavier parts because the table is constantly horizontal.

Trunnion Style

These CNC machines have moving tables and no space left for the spindle to cover. Which is advantageous for creating large volumes.

Which type of machine is to be utilized depends on some factors such as the weight of the parts and volume of finished products.

How 5-Axis CNC Machines Work

Executing machining action using 3-axis machines needs working in several planes, but to generate complex geometrical masterpieces, requires few setups to make along with manual rotation. But a 5-axis machine can finish the task in a single setup. As it is capable of performing the subtractive operation on every surface in multiple directions except its clamping area and the bottom.

A five-axis machine has the potential to adjust a tool or workpiece in five different axes at once. Two additional axes help to do the rotational movement that reduces the number of fixtures and part manipulation and assists to save time. 5-axis technology made the manufacturing of complex parts easier.

Why You Should Choose 5-Axis CNC Machining

If durability and efficiency are your major concerns then it is obvious that you should go with 5-axis machining. A comparison of 3D printing, 3+2-axis machining, and 5-axis machining is drawn below. It will clear your understanding, why 5-axis machining is superlative to the other two technologies.

5-Axis Machining vs 3D Printing

The fundamental difference between 5-axis machining and 3D printing is that 5-axis is a subtractive process while 3D printing is an additive process. Both the technologies have their distinct benefits and demerits. They cannot be replaced with each other. When difficult products, different material choices, and large production are needed then 5-axis machining should be used. But if certain parts designs are to be made then 3D printing is the best choice.

5-Axis Machining vs 3+2 Axis Machining

Differentiating 3+2 axis and 5-axis machining is difficult because there exists a slight difference between them. 3+2 machining uses 3-axis to execute milling and the other 2 axes are rotating which are used to fix the cutting tool or blank. It requires stopping and starting in 3+2 axis while 5-axis machining is continuous. The use of the fourth and fifth axes differs in both technologies.

Another difference between these two machining processes is their application in manufacturing different products. 5-axis CNC machining is suitable for complex contour surface machining and 3+2 operation is considered good for curves or angled tubular shapes processing.

Making a better choice depends on your part requirements and other parameters. But if outstanding durability and efficiency are needed then 5-axis machining should be preferred.

Applications of 5-Axis CNC Machining in Different Industries

5-axis machining finds its applications in many industries, especially such industries that require parts with complex geometries and tight tolerances. Some important industries that commonly prefer 5-axis machining are discussed as follows.

Aerospace Industry

5-Axis precision machining empowers the fabrication of extremely complex shapes featuring ultra-high precision and tight tolerances, which is a very basic demand in the aerospace sector. This industry cannot use a method that is not proficient or reliable because it matters the humans lives. Typical parts created using this technology are turbine blades, valves, etc.

Medical Industry

In the medical industry, the standards of meeting product quality and accuracy are very high. Because a minor error in any part could put a patient’s life at risk. Therefore, the 5-axis machining is well suited because of its high precision capabilities. Parts made through this process are orthotic devices, safe enclosures, implants, MRI machines, etc.

Automotive Industry

As automobile corporates continuously develop and change their model designs, these new designs have special shapes with high tolerance specifications, and these properties are adequately achieved by five-axis CNC machining. Engine parts, shipping vessels, transport trucks, etc. are produced by this technology.

Energy Sector

The energy business likewise requests uncommon shapes to use in different electrical generation machines and 5-axis machining is more than fit to satisfy these necessities.

Benefits of 5-Axis CNC Machining

We have come to know a lot about 5-axis CNC machining. Now let’s take a look at its benefits.

Outstanding Processing Accuracy and Efficiency

5-axis CNC technology offers outstanding accuracy, efficiency & cost-effectiveness. There is a certain motivation behind why mechanical engineers rely on this machine too much, even involving complex generation cycles.

This machining method is more proficient and precise equivalent to other methods. Offering fewer interruptions and using all the five axes simultaneously enables it to make amazing parts with better quality. This implies extraordinary parts, less material debris, and reduced costs.

Single Setup

5-axis machining provides the possibility to generate complicated designs with a single setup, which introduces productivity, early deliveries, improved costs and eliminates human negligence. But a 3 axis machine requires various arrangements which might bring inaccurate alignments, greater expenses, and other mistakes.

Complex Parts

A conventional CNC machine only operates in three axes but 5-axis machines can move in five directions (three linear axes plus two rotational axes). The capacity to move the workpiece without eliminating gives it an upper hand over 3-axis machining.

5 axes CNC machines are equipped for producing even the most difficult designs. In case your parts have 4D and 5D design requirements then it is possible to meet. But for that, you must choose a master of this field having advanced machinery and staff.

Better Surface Finish

To achieve a good surface finish, try to keep the cutting tool as close to the workpiece as possible. Because a less distance between the cutting tool and blank is less susceptible to vibrations at higher cutting speeds, which results in better surface finishes. This can be done by utilizing both the extra rotational axes in five axes machining.

Improved Tool Life

In 5-axis CNC machining, you can maintain a constant chip load, optimum cutting position, and maximum speeds. Therefore tool gets less affected by the vibrations and results in minor wear and tear that improves the cycle time and life of the tool.


In nutshell, 5-axis CNC machining is the best option over the other manufacturing technologies. It provides two extra rotating axes that make it an optimal process for achieving better quality and efficiency in generating extremely complicated products. But to obtain better results, you must have trained and experienced staff and the latest models of these machines.

Cora Feng
Cora Feng

Project Manager working on CNC Machining since 2010

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Let's have a chat

Learn how we helped 100 top brands gain success.