What Is 5-Axis Machining and What Can It Do For You?

5-axis machining is the ability of a CNC machine to move a part or a tool on five different axes at the same time. 3-axis machining centers move a part in two directions (X and Y), and the tool moves up and down (Z). 5-Axis machining centers access two additional rotary axes.

There are now many CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software systems available to support multiaxis machining including software that can automatically convert 3-axis toolpaths into 5-axis toolpaths. Margins are tight in the metalworking business, so using 5-axis toolpaths can help you get ahead. Hurco Companies offers you the capability to transition from 3-sided to 5-sided and 5-axis. Check out the Hurco 5-axis machines available to you >>


Multiaxis machines offer several improvements over other CNC tools:

  • The amount of human labor is reduced, if the piece would otherwise have to be turned manually during the machining.
  • A better surface finish can be obtained by moving the tool tangentially about the surface.
  • More complex parts can be manufactured, particularly parts with curved holes.

Every shop has work that would benefit from a 5-axis machine because a 5-axis machining center facilitates 5-sided machining. So, even if you don’t have simultaneous 5-axis work, such as impellers or turbines, the parts you are producing on your 3-axis machines will be more profitable when you use 5-sided machining on a 5-axis machining center.

While you can use a 3-axis machining center for mold work, long, skinny tools are necessary if you have a deep-cavity mold. With long, skinny tools, you have to slow down the feedrates to minimize chatter and prevent tool breakage. Often, you can’t achieve the quality of surface finish you need using 3-axis machining for mold work. For fine finishing operations, especially on small diameter molds, 3-axis machining can make the process more difficult than it needs to be.

With simultaneous 5-axis machining, you can use shorter, stouter tools, which means you can push faster with increased feedrates. Using simultaneous 5-axis machining for mold work means you can take heavier cuts and z-depths aren’t a problem. All of this results in shorter total machining time.

Learn more about 5-sided and 5-axis machining here >>

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