A major benefit of five-axis machining is the ability to machine a higher quality part nearly complete in a single set-up. This gives greater machining productivity compared to performing the job in a series of operations, as well as significantly reducing the time and cost of preparing fixtures and setting up each operation. With fewer operations the total time to make the part is reduced by virtue of the part not needing to be scheduled through as many sequential operations and machines.
Furthermore, quality is improved because with multiple set-ups, there is greater part to part variation and the possibility of incorrect alignment each time the part is moved.
Another important advantage of five-axis machining is that it enables shorter cutting tools to be used since the head can be lowered towards the job and the cutter oriented towards the surface. As a result, higher cutting speeds can be achieved without putting excessive load on the cutter, so increasing tool life and reducing tool breakages.
The use of shorter cutters also reduces the vibration of the tool that can result when machining deep cores or cavities with three-axis machines. This allows a higher quality surface finish to be obtained, so reducing, or even eliminating, the need for time-consuming hand finishing.
Finally, the ability to move in 5 axes simultaneously allows more complex surfaces to be machined – those with irregular or contoured surfaces – more quickly.
All of this adds up to lower cost, better quality, shorter lead times and greater responsiveness to customer requirements.