4. Process of 5-Axis CNC Machining
4.1. Choose a Machine or a Machine + Rotary
In the market, there are two main configurations of 5-axis CNC machines:
- Swivel-Rotate-Style. Such machines utilize the rotary axes by rotating the spindles. It’s a more appropriate style for machining heavier parts.
- Trunnion-Style. Such machines have a movable table. It helps them to machine large volumes since a spindle takes up no space.
And two main types of CNC machines:
- Horizontal. These machines are typically equipped with a pallet changer. They tend to be heavier and more rigid. Normally, horizontal machines support the cutting of the most durable raw materials like titanium or Inconel materials. They have effective metal chip disposal since they free fall into the conveyor.
- Vertical. These machines are way more agile for processing smaller components. The vertical clamping is easier to handle for operators. Yet, the chip evacuation should be closely monitored with vertical units.
You use a swivel-rotate machine for heavy-duty work and a trunnion, a vertical machine for a large number of smaller components.
4.2. Pick Your Tools
Then you need to get an idea of what you are going to cut and with what type of machine. Are these 5-axis mills or turning centers you are going to use?
Here are the types of cutting tools you are likely to use.
End and face mills.
Hollow mills, slab mills, and thread mills.
And the four materials you may use for CNC cutters:
There is no single successful combination of a tool and its material. Make your choice based on the scope of the application.
4.3. Hold On Tight
The most suitable tool holder system is either BBT or HSK. They eliminate vibrations and increase tool life. They do not deteriorate surface qualities as well. Besides, they provide the best bonding between the spindle and the tool holder under any condition.
As for work-holding technology, you may go with a self-centering vise, which would adjust itself and have high holding power. Or, you may choose a dovetail system that decreases the distortion and locates all the parts in the same way for a more consistent load. You may also use tombstones or fixture blocks for some applications.
4.4. Program Away
You need some G-code programming to make your best 5-axis CNC machines work. When programming such a machine, you should command rotary moves and position. You may input the data using either rotary angles or tool vectors.
The IJK tool vectors make a program independent of any machine configuration since you do not especially command any axis. That’s why you’re recommended to go with this approach.
Anyway, to execute some programming, you’ll need CAM software. The program in which you write or let the machine automatically compute your G-coded files. Use Fusion 360, FreeCAD, OpenBuilds CAM, or any other software of your choosing.