Generally Speaking, 5-Axis machining is a manufacturing process where computer numerically controlled axes moved in 5 ways are used to manufacture parts out of metal or other materials by milling away excess material. Typical CNC tools support translation in 3 axes; multi-axis or 5-axis machines also support rotation around one or multiple axes.
The number of axes for multi-axis machines varies from 4 to as many as 9. Each axis of movement is implemented either by moving the table (into which the workpiece is attached), or by moving the tool. The actual configuration of axes varies; therefore machines with the same number of axes can differ in the movements that can be performed.
5-axis machining can be broken down into two different categories; full, simultaneous 5-axis machining and 3+2 5-axis machining.
In simultaneous 5-axis machining, the machine tool’s three linear axes (X, Y and Z) and two rotational axes (A and B) all engage at the same time to perform complex contour surface machining particularly important in the finish machining of undercut areas. There are many advantages of full 5-axis machining, all of which significantly impact finished product quality, productivity and profitability.
Fixed motion or 3 + 2 machining is a technique whereby a three-axis milling program is executed with the cutting tool locked in a tilted position using the five-axis machine’s two rotational axes, hence the name, 3 + 2 machining. It is also called “positional five-axis machining” because the fourth and fifth axes are used to orient the cutting tool in a fixed position rather than to manipulate the tool continuously during the machining process.