Introduction to 5-Axis technology
5-Axis simultaneous machining has been used for the machining of complex parts for many years, particularly in the aerospace industry. The drive for increased manufacturing efficiency has led to a wider use of the technology throughout the manufacturing industry. As demand has increased, costs have come down and programming the machines has become easier through the wider availability of CAM software capable of driving 5-Axis machines.
5-Axis machining allows the machine tool to access all sides of the component, subject to fixturing restrictions and can be used for basic positioning (sometimes referred to as 3+2) or full simultaneous 4- or 5-Axis machining where the linear and one or more rotary axes are used simultaneously.
There are a number of areas to consider with 5-Axis machining:
- The push towards single set up machining means that 5-Axis and Mill/Turn machining centres are becoming more prevalent in manufacturing. Benefits of single set up machining include reduced lead time and labour costs and improved final part quality
- 5-Axis machining allows the use of shorter series cutters which improve tool life and surface finish. The tool tilts to avoid collisions with the tool holder allowing better access to the part geometry, this is especially applicable with deep female and male components often found in the toolmaking industry
- Tool life can be improved and cycle time reduced if the tool is tilted to maintain optimum cutting position and constant chip load
- SWARF cutting is a popular technique in 5-Axis machining, where the side of the tool is used to machine tilted walls and can provide large efficiency improvements over traditional 3-Axis methods
- It can be difficult to visualise exactly what will happen when the NC program is run on the machine tool as a small change in axis movement can result in large movement of the machine tool. Offline or machine tool controller based simulation of the process is important to ensure that expensive collisions are avoided
- Realistically, some parts can only be produced by using 4- or 5-Axis simultaneous machining techniques. Examples include shaft type (crankshaft or camshaft) components which are produced with 4- or 5-Axis rotary movement and components where the tool form is critical to the part geometry
There is much research material available on 5-Axis machining available on the Internet and a number of books have been produced. ModuleWorks is pleased to be able to offer a case study containing a full illustrated chapter in PDF form from the book Secrets of 5-axis Machining by Karlo Apro, ISBN 978-0-8311-3375-7. Please see the case study menu for more details.