Buying Machining Center: Comparison of 3, 4 and 5 Axis Machine

Buying Machining Center: Comparison of 3, 4 and 5 Axis Machine
Kitmondo 05 Feb 2019

Though tools usage is what everybody does, only the experts can tell the difference between a tool and the other. 

Most times, some tools come so closely related that they may even be used interchangeably without attention to what their individual “destined” functions are.

With an increasing need for more polished and precise machine parts, using 3 axis machine for a job that requires a 5 axis machine may leave you in a rat race – sure you won’t want to run around circles without getting the expected results.

Do You Need To Buy a Machining Center? Get This!

Before going any further with your purchase, you need to know this and get it right. Whether your need may be the 5, 4 or 3 axis machining center (you sure know which suits best for your intended use; optical, aerospace, medical and others), here is a secret you have to keep in mind as a guide.

Spending so much money on a new machining center is never a guarantee that you will get the right tool. Better still, going for a used machining center can be of great value especially when you make such purchase from reliable used machine market place.

Don’t forget this - you can save some cool change for another machine from such deal.

So, let’s get down to the real gist! Have you been wondering what is the relationship or variation between a 3, 4 or 5 axis machining center? Sit back and be informed because this post is out to settle your curiosity.

3 Axis Machining Center – The Basis

The 3 axis CNC machining center came into the picture as a result of the need for a rotary filling machine. The manual technique of milling parts by the 3 axis machining center employs the three Cartesian coordinates of X, Y, and Z axes.

In its little quarters since inception, the 3 axis CNC milling machine has played a significant role with its own peculiar design which is notable of its static milling bed.

The 3 axis machining center is most suitable for the milling of mechanical parts with shallow depth but may be labor-intensive to use when trying to work on narrow cavities or parts that require deeper milling.

Though seen as old fashion currently, the 3 axis machining center is still accurate at its milling process and they have a multifunctional design for various milling jobs such as; milling slots, cutting of sharp edges, and for automatic interactive operations.

Nevertheless, the 3 axis machining center can also be employed in creating machine parts in which the 4 and 5 axis CNC milling machines are used for, but where a more precise and a detailed level of milling is the goal, the 3 axis machining center has its limit of use.

4 Axis Machining Center – The Bridge

Thinking of an intermediary milling machine between the 3 axis and 5 axis machining center? The 4 axis milling machine bridge the gap.

The 4 axis is similar to the 3 axis in operation due to its static surface on which the cutting pieces move about to mill machine parts. With more features such as an additions cutting axis – the A axis, the 4 axis machining center gives more accurate, detailed, and precise drilling, milling, and engraving of mechanical parts compared to the 3 axis milling machine.

With its additional axis of operation, the 4 axis CNC machining center offers more operational use in addition to what the 3 axis machines can offer. Such operational diversity is visible in its ability to work on various materials like; foam, aluminum, composite board, wood, PCB and even alloy.

Being a multi-use CNC machining center, the 4 axis milling machines are suitable for the manufacture of various parts for different industries such as; medical equipment parts, art and sculpting, the design of advertising prototype, and teaching tools among others.

The bottom line remains, the 4 axis machining center’s precise and operational competence is obviously higher than its 3 axis milling counterpart.

5 Axis Machining Center – An Advanced Design

As far as ‘now’ is concerned, the 5 axis CNC machining center is the most advanced milling machine with a faster speed, more precise and clean machine parts production.

Its functioning ability is extremely different and superior with an impeccable machine parts creation when compared to the 3 axis and 4 axis milling machines.

Just as the name implies, the 5 axis CNC milling machine is designed to move in the 3 Cartesian directions; X, Y, and Z in addition to two other directions; A and B axes. In a single operation, what direction you wish to trim your parts from is never a hard task to accomplish with the 5 axis milling machine.

Unlike the 3 axis and 4 axis machining center that has a fixed bed with movable cutting pieces, the 5 axis CNC milling machine has both a movable bed surface and movable cutting pieces which helps it to carve, drill, or mill machine parts efficiently.

The abilities in the flexibility of operation with the 5 axis CNC machining center is visible in its application in the production of aerospace products, artificial bones, oil and gas machine parts, car moulds, medical parts, titanium creations (which can be used for both artistic an practical purposes), door frames, and even military grade products.

Worried about designs that seem impossible or materials that looks as though nothing can pierce or mill them? You have no problem then because, with the 5 axis CNC machining center, the most tedious and complex designs so far in the world have been successfully created and produced using the 5 axis milling machines. Also, drilling to any depth is carried out effortlessly with the 5 axis milling machine.

If high product turnaround, precision (with a reduced tool vibration) and excellent milling accuracy are what you desire, the 5 axis CNC milling machine can be likened to a jack of all trade – as far as mechanical parts production is concerned.

To whom much is given much is expected. While the 3 axis machine is simpler to operate with a shorter machining time, the 5 axis machining center takes a longer preparation and machining time with less material handling.Do you need professional guidance?

Do you need professional guidance?

So, with this post, we have perfectly played our part of the game, now the ball is in your court to decide which machining type to purchase based on your job demands and budget.

For smaller budgets with high machine value, buying a used machining center can be a wise alternative to make.

In need of professional advice and guidance? Feel free to call on us because we are always glad and available to be of help.