3 Axis Vs 4 Axis Vs 5 Axis CNC Machining – What’s The Difference Between 3, 4 and 5 Axis Machining


In CNC machining, what are the differences among 3-axis, 4-axis and 5-axis? What are are their respective advantages? What products are suitable for each of them? How to choose a right 3 axis, 4 axis, or 5 axis CNC machine for your CNC machining projects, ideas or plans? Let’s read on the article and get into the differences between 3 axis, 4 axis and 5 axis CNC machining!

CNC 3 Axis Vs 4 Axis Vs 5 Axis Machining

3-Axis CNC Machining

3-axis CNC milling is still one of the most popular and widely used machining processes. In 3-axis machining, the workpiece remains fixed and the rotating tool cuts along X, Y and Z axes. This is a relatively simple form of CNC machining, which can manufacture products with simple structure. It is not suitable for processing products with complex geometry or complex components.

Since the cutting can only be done on 3 axes, the processing speed may also be slower than that of 4 OR 4 axis machining, because the workpiece may need to be manually repositioned to obtain the desired shape.


4-Axis CNC Machining

In 4-axis NC milling, the 4th axis is added to the movement of the cutting tool, allowing rotation around the X axis. Now there are 4 axes – X, Y, Z and A (rotating around X). Most 4 axis CNC machine tools also allow the workpiece to rotate, which is called b-axis, so that the machine can act as both milling machine and lathe. 

If you need to drill on the side of a part or on the surface of a cylinder, 4-axis CNC machining is the best choice. It greatly speeds up the machining process and has high machining accuracy.


5-Axis CNC Machining

5 axis machining means that when machining parts with complex geometry, the machining tools need to be able to position and connect in five degrees of freedom. 5 axis NC milling has an additional rotation axis compared with four axis NC milling. The 5th axis is about the Y axis, also known as the b axis. The workpiece can also be rotated on some machines, sometimes called b-axis or c-axis. Five axis machine tool can process different sides of the workpiece without changing the position of the workpiece on the machine tool, which can greatly improve the processing efficiency of prismatic parts.

Because of the high versatility of 5-axis NC machining, it is used to manufacture complex precision parts. Such as medical parts, aerospace parts, titanium parts, oil and gas mechanical parts, military products, etc.

What’s The Difference Between 3,4 and 5 Axis CNC Machining

1. Principle: 3 axis has XYZ axis, 4 axis has x, y, z and a,5 axis has x, y, z, w, b or x, y, z, a, b axis.

2. Processing features: For 3-axis machining, the cutting tool direction remains unchanged during the whole cutting path. The cutting state of the tool tip can not be perfect in real time. For 5-axis machining, in the process of moving along the whole path, the tool direction can be optimized, and the tool linear motion can be carried out at the same time. In this way, the best cutting condition can be maintained in the whole path. For the 4-axis machining, add a rotation axis to the three axes, which is generally 360°rotation in the horizontal plane. But it can’t rotate at high speed. It is suitable for machining some box parts.

3. Price & cost: 5 axis equipment is more expensive than 3 axis and 4 axis.

Which To Choose, 3, 4, Or 5 Axis CNC Machining?

Although the advantages of 5 axis are very prominent compared with 4 axis and 3axis, not all products are suitable for 5 axis CNC machining, and those suitable for 3 axis CNC machining are not necessarily suitable for 5 axis machining. If the original 3 axis products can be processed with CNC 5 axis machining, it will not only increase the cost, but also the effect is not necessarily good. Only reasonable arrangement, for the product to develop the appropriate machine tools, so as to play out the value of the machine itself. 

In my opinion, 5 axis machining is a great option because for most products, 5 axes are enough to make feature-rich parts to tight tolerances. They are capable of cutting the most complex and tedious designs existing in the world. It can operate much faster than 3 axis and 4 axis CNC machines and provide vertical milling with the highest precision and quality available today.

Get 5-Axis Machining Services From The Professionals at CNCLATHING

The professional CNC engineers at Junying (CNCLATHING) can manufacture precision CNC machine parts for you to your exact specifications. We machine components for a wide variety of industries all over China – no matter if you’re looking for specific CNC machining components for your medical clinic or aircraft parts for an aerospace company, we use only the best 5-axis CNC machining service to build your parts to the most precise accuracy.