Recently Hurco offered an excellent webinar to educate machine shop owners and others about 5 axis operations. As 5 axis work is becoming a bigger and bigger piece of the industry it’s critical for every business to give serious consideration to adding this capability. This information is so valuable we thought it would be helpful to offer a summary of this hour long discussion for our customers. The initial point of discussion was a basic introduction to machine configurations. Most people are familiar with the x, y, and z axis but to make that 5 axis we add the A, B, and C axis. The A axis rotates around the x axis, the B axis rotates around the y axis, and the C axis rotates around the z axis. Generally in 5 axis equipment you’ll find these in combinations such as an A/B, B/C or a system that can offer both set-ups – A/C or B/C on one machine OR A/B or B/C on one machine.
Some benefits to consider with 5-Axis capabilities include:
The ability to machine multiple operations in a single set-up
The use of shorter cutting tools in deep cavity features by tilting the head
Ability to machine complex parts from solid billet instead of castings – especially useful for small runs
Time savings when machining features on compound angles – eliminates the need for special fixturing
There are two different configurations that people refer to when they discuss 5-Axis machining. One is a simultaneous 5-axis machine which is tilting while machining the part. The advantages to this are better surface finish, longer tool life and allowing the tool to reach difficult places more smoothly. The down side to this method is that it’s slower than 5-sided machining. 5-sided machining is rotating the part in to position and then running as a standard 3-axis. The advantage to this option is faster cut speeds, easy to program, fewer tool interference issues and excellent roughing strategy. When comparing 5-sided machining to the old traditional 3-axis machining there are other clear advantages. 5-sided machining reduces setup times by eliminating the need for multiple setups for each side of the same part. It also increases shop capability and improves part accuracy. This is generally a very easy transition for most shops because it’s simply doing 3 axis work at an angle.
Some items to consider before purchasing a 5-axis machine:
Look at the individual part size or part family, which machine best suits all of the parts without being too large or too small.
Review the part setup or fixture design to make sure the selected machine will accommodate not only the parts, but the desired fixture.
Consider the length of all necessary tooling as longer tool lengths can be a significant deciding factor that will drive the machine size and type selected.
Features of the 5-Axis machine such as tool center pint management, transform plane, tool vector input, 5-axis toolpath linearization, 3D cutter compensation, and automatic safe repositioning.
Easy of programming which can be made even simpler by selecting a machine with a user friendly conversational programming software.
The final segment of the webinar is a discussion about the ease of programming available with today’s 5-Axis systems. Many customers are nervous about the programming that will be involved in starting to use a 5-axis machine but as described in the webinar there have been a lot of changes and improvements in recent years to make this a much less intimidating situation. Most customers today have no trouble transitioning from 3-Axis to 5-Axis programming. To hear the full webinar visit www.hurco.com and listen to the Take 5 For 5-Axis webinar. Additional information about 5-Axis machining in general can also be found at www.5-axis.org.