For the past ten years, five-axis technology has become increasingly popular in tool making. Rightly so, we say at Makino. In just one setup you can machine five sides of a work piece, are free in your tool attack angle, and can use shorter tools.
Nevertheless, we sincerely believe that the "old" three-axis technology is still justifiable. And that can be explained relatively simply
In contrast to three-axis machines, five-axis machines have two additional rotation axes, and that creates a lot of practical advantages. But as is always the case, like with the rule of light and shadow, this also generates additional challenges.
First of all, there are two more interfaces than on a three-axis machine, which are two potential producers of vibrations. Damping is, however, a very important factor that significantly influences the surface quality of a workpiece and tool life. Here, we have the first contradiction. Furthermore, these two additional axes also cause accuracy problems that are not easily manageable. With five-axis machines it is therefore very important to determine the common centre of the two axes of rotation and, above all, to keep it stable throughout the machining process. There are different ways of doing this, but they require a lot of effort. In reality, it means that a five-axis machine is less precise on the part than a three-axis machine if both are of comparable quality.
Second, the programming of five-axis machines is more complex than that of three-axis machines, even if in most cases the process is not carried out simultaneously, but only in index mode.
So when should you still invest in three-axis technology?
First of all for commercial reasons: A three-axis machine is more affordable, although it delivers comparable accuracy and surface quality. So it may be better to buy a good three-axis machine than a budget five-axis one.
Another reason is the accuracy of the part. With three-axis machines from Makino an accuracy of significantly less than 5 µm can be easily achieved at the work piece, which is much more difficult, if not impossible, with five-axis machines.
Ease of use is also important. Collision considerations are simple, programming and operation easier and quicker.
And finally, a three-axis machine is also much less sensitive to changes in temperature so high-precision air conditioning is not always necessary in the tool shop.
At Makino, we always strive to find the best solutions to suit our customers' tasks.
That is why it is a good idea to talk to our sales and application consultants to determine what is the right machine to meet your needs. We will be glad to discuss all aspects of your machining challenge and then offer you the right solution. And that might well be a three-axis machine.