The 5 axis machine shop uses a vast array of carbide cutting tools to service the modern tool and die, mold making or precision machine shop. Without these productive tools, the CNC machinists and toolmakers could never make the prototypes, injection molds or complex aerospace parts they are so adept at.
A typical vertical machining center cuts in only 3 axes: X,Y and Z. The 5 axis machine shop machines can work in almost any position imaginable, all in one set-up. Any time a workpiece must be set-up there is another chance for error. This 5 sided machining ability eliminates much of this set-up time.
The efficiencies possible are truly amazing. What used to take hours or days and required more machine tools, can now be done in one set-up, more accurately and much quicker. Secondary operations are largely a thing of the past. This is one of the secrets of a successful 5 axis machine shop.
Milling, center-drilling, drilling, reaming, contouring, squaring, water-lines, core pin and ejector pin holes, screw holes, tapping, engraving, even polishing can be done in a 5 axis machine shop. The company that is without one is at a great disadvantage. Very often, there is little to be done to the workpiece, once it is out of the machine.
Carbide cutting tools
The carbide cutting tools must be high quality in order to produce the desired result. It does not make sense to skimp on budget tooling when you are dealing with a high end machine tool. There are numerous manufacturers that carry extensive lines of carbide cutters.
A few of the popular brands are: Sandvik, OSG, Kennametal, Accupro, Hanita, SGS, Widia and Morse. They offer high end cutters that perform much better than the bargain tooling that quickly wears out and is out of tolerance.
Using an indexable end mill is a great way to get high production out of your machine. Rather than invest in a stand alone endmill, many companies use a variety of indexable tools to save money and still get top results.
These inserts are available as roughing mills, as well as finishing mills. Most shops use coated carbide cutters because of their superior performance characteristics. There are many coatings available, such as: TiAINbN, TiSiN, CrSiN, TiAIN, and TiCN. Each of these coatings has a specific application that has been tested and show to outperform others. However, in your shop, things might be different for many reasons.
A 5 axis machine shop requires some sophisticated software as well. NCL-CAM makes a high end program that is designed to create tool paths for machined parts of every complexity. The wood working industry uses 5 axis machines to produce the furniture and even guitars that we all enjoy. Often, they use carbide router bits.
Mastercam is the world’s largest supplier of CAM software and they have years of experience in solving machining problems. Many successful 5 axis machine shops use this powerful software in combination with other programs.
The machine tool, the machinist, the carbide cutters, the coolant, indexable cutters, CAM software, and specific project must be integrated in order to achieve maximum productivity. Running a 5 axis machine shop can be a complex operation, but the demand will only increase over time.