3 + 2 = Improved Productivity


By Cliff Barber

Hermle 5 axis cnc machine

This article sets out to highlight the benefits of 5-axis machining for complex shapes and surfaces, as well as for parts which require machining on five or six sides. This could include drilling, tapping, milling, gear shaping and turning.

Investing in a 5-axis machine tool may seem excessive to some CNC machine shops. However, they significantly improve competitiveness and profitability. They also provide a more efficient way of manufacturing parts and can make you more competitive, even on less complex jobs.

The benefits of 5-axis for complex shapes and surfaces

  • Quicker setup times
  • Lower tooling costs
  • Reduced work holding
  • Reduced labour costs
  • Less programming time
  • Reduce all diverted hours
  • Increase spindle usage
  • Reduce lead times

Investing in a 5-axis machine to produce complex part features addresses these issues without the need for simultaneous movement, instead only 3 + 2 movement is needed to position the part.

For example:

5-axis machines can machine nearly every visible surface, excluding the bottom or clamping area. This approach significantly reduces the need for multiple setups or special fixtures.  

The same tool paths can be achieved in a three-axis machine, but only after loading and unloading between multiple setups, fixtures, or machines.

The 5-axis machine increases uptime, decreases human error and eliminates the need for special fixtures. For parts with features or holes on multiple faces or angles, 3+2 machining is the clear choice.

Time savings when drilling holes

3+2 machining can also achieve huge time savings when drilling holes. While this may seem trivial in comparison to the difficulty of machining a complex core or cavity, drilling a series of holes with different compound angles is extremely time consuming. If a 3-axis machine is used, a different set-up must be introduced for each hole or feature.

With a Hermle 5-axis machine, the trunnion can be oriented around the correct axis for each feature, allowing drilling and/or milling to be completed more efficiently.

Shorter cutting tools

Another important advantage of the Hermle configuration 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 breakages, scrap and rework.

The use of shorter cutters also reduces the vibration of the tool that can result when machining deep cores or cavities with 3-axis machines. This allows a higher quality surface finish to be obtained, so reducing – possibly even eliminating – the need for time-consuming hand finishing, and deburring.

Feature-to-feature accuracy

There is the potential for inaccuracies in each setup change, once a part is removed from the machine and precise alignment can be lost. Using the same “Zero” or “Home” location means that feature-to-feature accuracy is maintained.

In summary

It is fair to say machine tools have come a long way.

They now come equipped with user-friendly software to assist manual shop floor and office-based programming. Using the latest machine tools and machine tool technology provided by Hermle, diverse, simple or complicated features can be machined with ease. Onboard graphics simulate the process and CNC code prior to machining so parts can be produced with confidence and a high degree of safety.

For more information on these compact, strong, accurate, versatile, German built machines, visit our full range of 5-axis machines.

Find out more about 5-axis machining…

Find out more about 5-axis machining by reading our guide to 5-axis machining or downloading the whitepaper.



5-axis metalcutting and additive manufacturing

German machine tool manufacturer, Hermle, is integrating additive manu...

5-axis portal mill for prototype tool and mould making

A portal 5-axis milling machine has been introduced by German machine...

5-axis mill-turn centre installed for Silcoms

5-axis mill-turn centre installed for titanium aero-engine component p...