5-Axis CNC for Precision Machining

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What is CNC Machining?

Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining is when materials are removed using high-speed precision machinery with a wide range of cutting tools. These cutting tools work on 5 axes in a single setup to deliver a final product. CNC machining implements subtractive machining technology.

A 5-axis refers to the ability of the machine to move a tool or part in five different axes at the same time. While basic machines operate on X, Y, and Z axes, 5-axis machining has two additional axes, A and B axes. This enables the machine a multidirectional approach. The machining can access five sides of the tool or part as the CNC controllers move all five axes simultaneously. Since the machine uses advanced 5-axis CNC controllers, it can manufacture complex tools. It offers high accuracy, efficiency, repeatability, and precision under very little time and minimal setup.

CNC machining uses Computer-Aided Design (CAD) to design a product and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to program the manufacturing processes. This programming is fed into CNC machines, and the entire process is carried out through automation. This means there is a minimal manual process. Utilizing CAD/CAM mitigates human error, reduces time in designing, manufacturing and helps speed up processes. This ensures large-scale flawless production with high precision.

Strategies to get the most from 5 - Axis Machining

Collecting Information and Communication

The simplest and most efficient strategy that can be used is to gather all the information available before commencing the machining process. Speak to the customers to get accurate and complete information regarding the quality and specifications.​

Full Simulation Softwares

After a program is received from the CAD system, full simulation software can help verify the process before it is fed into machines. This will help rectify errors and accommodate rectifications in the design. It is better to verify ahead rather than fix models after making them.

Innovative Work-holding

Identify peculiar options for work holding that can access all sides of tools. Rethinking the designs can help in changing work holding. This eliminates complex setting up processes and reduces manual handling.

Tooling for 5-axis CNC

Specific tools are designed for high-speed 5-axis machining. Choosing different quality tools can help achieve specifications to customer satisfaction. Automatic tool changers with multiple stations will help in easily locating and loading tools to have them available for any application.

Choice of Machines

Make sure to equip the machining to match the job at hand. A solid base is necessary for handling high speeds. The controls need to be fast and powerful. Spindles should be enabled to move up to 40,000 to 50,000 RPM. All the axes have to move simultaneously to ensure accuracy and surface finishing. Choosing the machine with the right options will enhance productivity and reduce errors.

Run Kinematics

Make sure to equip the machining to match the job at hand. A solid base is necessary for handling high speeds. The controls need to be fast and powerful. Spindles should be enabled to move up to 40,000 to 50,000 RPM. All the axes have to move simultaneously to ensure accuracy and surface finishing. Choosing the machine with the right options will enhance productivity and reduce errors.

Ultrasophisticated Machining Capability Provides Time and Money Savings

The additional axes and mobility of the workpieces in 5-axis platforms help cut parts geometrically. With this, complex shapes can be achieved quickly and easily. The 5-axis CNC combines different standalone operations reduces part handling and multiple clamping phases during the process, thus increasing the final product’s accuracy. Shorter cutting tools with less vibration and deflection, higher cutting speeds, tighter tool movements, and improved finishing are achieved as the spindle head operates closer to the workpiece.

The 5-axis CNC is very cost-effective. Production output increases while cycle time, costly work fixtures, and wastage are reduced due to the consolidation of axes into a single setup. CNC machining is an efficient and economical choice. It also offers a faster lead time, and the quality of production turnaround is better than machines with fewer axes. These features and advantages of CNC machining help precisely manufacture higher quantities of final products at an appreciably very low time, and all chances of errors are removed.

Is 5-Axis Good for Your Business?

Simple Setup

The 5-axes rotations remove the necessity of taking breaks to set up the machining process. Expect the bottom and clamping area, and all surfaces can be worked on. Even complex products can be completed with a single setup

Suitable for Complex Shapes

The 5-Axis CNC machining does not require multiple setups or additional features. It gives quick access to different machining arcs and angles. With up to 8 degrees of freedom, complex shapes can be generated with precision, large quantities, and low error rates.

Better Tool Cycle and Lifespan

The collision between the cutting tool and tool holder is minimal in 5-axis CNC machining, thanks to more degrees of freedom. This means that the tool’s lifetime and the cycle are improved.

Accuracy of Parts

Various industries require precision in the machinery used in different processes. Removing workpieces to change setups leads to loss of alignment and precision. The quick and fast movements in all desired directions in 5-axis CNC machining eliminates the need to move the workpiece to different workstations. Thus, the precision of complex parts and surface finishing can be maintained and delivered with 5-axis machines.

Fast Material Removal

The cutting tool in 5-axis CNC machining is placed tangential to the workpiece. This ensures faster removal of material, and time spent on tools is saved.

Benefits of 5-Axis Machining in Precision Milling

The presence of five axes in CNC machining gives it an operational edge over other machines. The benefits of 5-axis machining in precision milling are:

1. The ability to machine complex shapes and parts due to 8 degrees of freedom.

2. Lack of need for multiple setups or special fixtures.

3. Increased feature and part accuracy due to a greater number of axes.

4. Better surface finishing because of increased tool precision.

5. Reduced Part Hand Setups, and usage of Fewer Machines.

6. On-demand production of parts because of increased efficiency and faster manufacturing speeds.

7. Reducing costly workpiece fixtures and redundancy in tooling.

8. Increase production rate and decreased chance of errors because of faster operation and shorter setup to set-up.


Different industries such as aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, defense, healthcare, oil, and gas require precision machinery. With 5-Axis CNC machining, complex and intricately designed parts can be manufactured with high levels of precision in less time.

CNC machining ensures repeatability and consistency. 5-Axis machining ensures meeting cost and time efficiencies and also longevity of tools produced. With the advancements in technology, it is sure that 5-axis CNC machining is the best choice for manufacturing machinery that requires high precision and zero errors.

CNC Machining Applications in Medical & Healthcare Industry

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CNC Machining Applications in Medical & Healthcare Industry

The medical and healthcare industry requires medical devices and parts to have high precision. The medical equipment, instruments, and implants have to be flawless as it involves human life, and any error can result in severe health complications or even death. This makes it necessary for the machining of medical devices and implants to be highly tolerant, precise, repeatable, and consistent.

The advent of 5-axis CNC machining has opened doors to easily manufacture medical parts and implants similar to human parts with high precision. These machines utilize various configurations to design intricate medical parts at speeds never before imagined while also greatly reducing any chance of error.

Features of 5-Axis CNC Machining

More Degrees of Freedom (DoF)

5-Axis machining consists of X, Y, and Z moving axes and A, B, C rotating Axes. This provides the machining with up to 8 degrees of freedom, and hence, the processing of more complex geometrical parts is possible and done with more precision.

Tool Guidance

In 5-Axis CNC machining, the five axes guide the milling tool on the component’s surface. Since the working angle can be adjusted at every point, an optimal angle relating to cutting speed can be ensured.

Shorter Cutting Tool

5-Axis CNC machines use shorter cutting tools, and smaller loads are fed into the machine. This helps dampen the vibration that would otherwise result in defects such as cavities and cores. Thus, the chances of breakage are prevented, and the machine’s lifespan is prolonged. This also improves the quality of finishing the parts and implants.

History of 5-Axis CNC Machining

An in-depth history of 5-Axis CNC Machining can be found in Golden E. Herrin’s work in 1995, which explains the first 5-Axis CNC Machining was invented in 1958, way before numerical control prevailed. The United States Air Force contracted Cincinnati Milacron Inc. to manufacture and test a 5-axis vertical mill for analyzing any potential feasibility. But the machine was not considered very practical then.

Later on, when Numerically Controlled machines were developed, they extended to be developed into CNC machining. Multiple programming languages were formed, and CNC started gaining quick popularity. The next evolutionary step was the development of Post-processing systems. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programs were used to help create, modify, analyze, and improve designs. Computer-Aided Manufacturing programs were used to control machine tools in manufacturing.

Post-processors translate CAM data into a programming language known as G-code that CNC machines can read and operate accordingly. This advancement made the functioning of 5-Axis CNC machining easier, more efficient, and popular. This development was limited to the aerospace industry regarding multi-axis machines due to various complexities and their affordability to manufacturers in other industries. The high cost of computers and 5-Axis CNC machining hindered manufacturers from opting for the machine.

Subsequently, when the price of computers fell with increased demand during the 1960s, 5-Axis CNC machining started becoming affordable to all levels of manufacturers. CNC machining was listed as a controlled commodity by the US Department of Defense, citing its importance to national security. Only in 2009 was it allowed to be exported to precision machinery, subject to the condition that distributors and producers created features prohibiting machine tampering.

This, coupled with many other developments in post-processing systems, CAD, and CAM programs, improved automation, and production of high-quality projects, thus making 5-Axis CNC machining the most opted one. Eventually, the benefit of fast production, along with precision, repetition, and zero error, that the 5-Axis CNC machining could provide to the medical field was identified.

Since 5-Axis, CNC machining has been widely used in micromachining cardiovascular, orthopedic and other devices, implants, and machining surgical instrumentation. The quality and availability of equipment used in surgery and parts implanted in patients are key to the wellness and lives of patients and the reputation of doctors and medical institutions.

The 5-Axis Machining Process

The process of the 5-axis machining is what has made it extremely important, reliable, precise, and flawless, given that around 60% of CNC shop products require five-sided machining. As the name goes, the machine can move in “five” directions, unlike traditional tools that can only move along the X and Y axes. 5-Axis CNC machining has X, Y, Z, and A, B, C Axes.

                                                                             A 5-Axis CNC moves along its different axes in the following manner:





Left to Right
Front to Back
Up and Down
180° rotation around the X-axis
180° rotation around the Y-axis
180° rotation around the Z-axis

A 5-Axis machining has two main configurations:


In this configuration, the head and spindle move around the table, which is horizontal, making it best for heavy parts and devices. Rotary Axes are used by rotating the spindle. B-Axis and C-Axis rotate around Y-Axis and Z-Axis, respectively, in this configuration.


These machines have moving tables and no spindle, making it beneficial for large volume machining. The rotation is more than 90° and is better for undercut capabilities. Here the A-Axis moves around the X-Axis, and the C-Axis rotates around the Z-Axis. Since there is no risk of collision, the spindle heads can be placed closer to the workpiece, unlike other multi-axis tools. This usage of a shorter cutting tool delivers impeccably finished projects at a faster rate.

Applications for 5-Axis CNC Machining in the Medical and Healthcare Industry

For manufacturing complex 3D-shaped devices and parts, 5-axis CNC machining is the best tool to opt for. The process meets the rigorous healthcare standards, which can be assured by the precision, repeatability, rate of production, and flawlessness of 5-axis CNC machining.

5-Axis CNC Machining is commonly used in manufacturing the following medical devices and parts:

Machined Surgical Instruments

High-grade surgical instruments that require faultless to ensure perfection and success in medical procedures can be manufactured using 5-axis CNC machining. These instruments are subject to safety requirements. A few such surgical instruments are:

  • Surgical scissors.
  • Blade handles.
  • Biopsy tubes. Cutters.
  • Saws.
  • Implant holders.
  • Forceps.
  • Plate benders.
  • Holders.
  • Clamps.
  • Spacers.


It manufactures extremely small and sophisticated medical parts used in drug-delivering technologies, implantable devices, exploratory surgical tools, etc. Manufacturing these requires a high level of expertise, because of which 5-axis CNC machining is the most suitable tool. The feature size of components goes up to 50 microns.

The following devices can be produced using micromachining:

  • Catheters.
  • Pacemaker components.
  • Stents.
  • Miniature screws for devices, implants.
  • Drug delivery systems.
  • Tubes.
  • Ophthalmic devices.

Electronic Medical Equipment

Unlike surgical instruments, which only have one or two metal components, certain complex equipment comprises or is even made out of several individual parts. Such complex equipment must be extremely precise to function without failure and can only be manufactured by 5-axis CNC machining. Some individually machined equipment parts include buttons, switches, levers, or bigger parts like monitor housings.

Electronic Medical Equipment that comprises thousands of smaller parts includes:

  • Heart Rate monitors.
  • X-Ray machine.
  • Ultrasound equipment.
  • MRI scanners.
  • CT scanners.
  • Diagnostic equipment.
  • Monitors.
  • Lighting.

Medical Implants

With 5-Axis CNC Machining, bodily implants can be manufactured that accurately imitate the structure and functioning of body parts and organs. Injection molding would be comparatively uneconomical to manufacturers due to the low and specific demand for implants. Hence, 5-Axis CNC machining ensures the implants’ personalization, durability, and performance.

The following is a list of common 5-axis CNC machined implants:

  • Knee implants.
  • Hip replacements.
  • Dental implants.
  • Spine implants.

Benefits of Utilizing 5-Axis CNC Machining in the Medical and Healthcare Industry

5-Axis CNC machining is one of the most advanced and sophisticated machining tools to manufacture medical devices and implants. The following are some important features of using 5-Axis CNC machining in the medical and healthcare industry:

1.Time and Cost Efficiency

5-Axis CNC machining has a higher speed of cutting less manual repositioning. Hence, reduces the time taken to finish projects. That means higher output in lesser time! This is advantageous to manufacturers to finish prototypes at reduced time and, more importantly, costs. This results in high-quality products reaching consumers at a faster pace than before and also lower prices.

2.Easy Set-up

A 5-Axis CNC machine uses a single set-up. This enables the machine to reduce time spent drilling holes, enhance efficiency, and reduce production time, costs, and errors.

3. Machining of Complex and Intricate Medical Parts

A more conventional method of producing complex and intricate parts is casting, which takes months to complete projects. With 5-Axis CNC machining, complex parts can be produced faster with greater precision.


Manufacturing medical devices and parts require high precision to comply with requisite standards. Coupled with the requirement of meeting cost and time efficiencies, there is no doubt that other machining processes do not stand a chance in delivering the same. To sum up, 5-Axis CNC Machining is the most effective and compatible tool when the machines’ time, expenses, precision of production, and longevity are considered.