November 2021

Spotlight on 5-axis machining

As we see key industries such as aerospace, medical, automotive, product design and energy turn to a combination of industrial 3D printing and CNC machining, we’ve taken some time out to highlight some of the key benefits of machining with a 5-axis machine.

Alongside 5-axis machining, you can also machine in ‘3+2’. This is where the machine head is fixed at an angle which allows undercuts to be machined, it also helps when machining deep pockets and side walls. The advantage of 3+2 over 5-axis is the CNC machine program is a lot smaller and less complex which in turn is less time consuming for the machine operator to set up.

Complex geometries and design flexibility

Traditional CNC machines employ three linear axes (X, Y and Z). 5-axis machines move in all of those axes, plus two more (rotational axes), meaning the tool cuts along every axis so the cutter is always perpendicular to the part. Before the introduction of 5-axis CNC machining, complex parts would typically require casting or multiple machine set ups, which is costly and time consuming. With 5-axis machining, this has allowed us to produce complex parts which previously weren’t possible with 3 or 4 axis machining strategies.


A 3-axis machine can require multiple setups during the production of a part, which can – depending on the part – result in misalignment during this process. 5-axis machines can deliver complex shapes with a single set up, meaning that customers benefit from efficiency and a reduction in costs and time.

Faster cutting speeds

By making use of the shorter tools, the machine can get much closer to the material, which allows for higher cutting speeds to be employed without an excessive load being placed on the cutter itself. From our perspective here at Ogle, this increases accuracy and allows for a better surface finish and improved quality. However, speed is also achieved through the use of specific 5-axis tool paths as the head can be orientated along the correct axis for each hole or feature within the same operation.

Improved surface finish

Superior surface finishes can be readily obtained with a five-axis machine because it effortlessly reduces the vibration of the tool by using shorter cutters. The project impact of this is overall quality and time, as the part will require less time-consuming hand finishing.

One of the main benefits for Ogle, is that 5-axis machining rids the needs for multiple set ups, which reduces the time the machine operator spends setting up the part. Therefore, lowering the cost and turnaround time for your project.

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