What Is 4-Axis And 5-Axis Cnc Machining?

4-Axis And 5-Axis Cnc Machining

The modern manufacturing landscape is always changing. 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining technologies let us meet complex designs. They also streamline production and ensure high quality at lower costs. In this article, Yonglihao Machinery will look at the key differences, benefits, and common uses of 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining. It will also cover how to choose the right one.

Table of Contents

Key differences between 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining

In modern manufacturing, 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining are key. They allow for high precision and complex parts. The main difference is the number of axes that can be operated. This difference affects the flexibility of the process and the part’s complexity.

Axis Description: In traditional 3-axis CNC machining, the tool can move along three axes: X, Y, and Z. The axes are for the horizontal, horizontal, and vertical directions. These three axes represent movement in the horizontal, vertical, and depth directions, respectively. But, the addition of 4-axis and 5-axis CNC technology adds extra rotary axes.

4-axis CNC machining: An extra rotary axis, usually the A-axis, is added to the 3-axis. It lets the workpiece rotate around the X-axis during machining. This extra rotary axis allows the machine to make more complex parts. It is for parts that need machining on multiple faces.

5-axis CNC machining: Two extra rotary axes are added to 4-axis machining. They are typically the A and B axes. They allow the cutting tool to approach the workpiece from any angle. This flexibility allows 5-axis machines to do more complex tasks. For example, they can machine complex surfaces and fine structures.

Flexibility and Complexity: The advent of 5-axis CNC machining has greatly increased the flexibility of machining. It has also increased the complexity of the parts that can be made. This technology can machine many surfaces in one set-up. This reduces the need to reposition and clamp the workpiece. It boosts productivity and cuts error rates. 5-axis machining is the best choice for parts with complex geometries that require high precision.

4-axis CNC machining

Advantages of 4-axis CNC machining

4-axis CNC machining technology is important in modern manufacturing. It is so due to its high efficiency and precision. It adds a fourth axis, which is usually the workpiece’s axis of rotation. This lets four-axis machining do multi-faceted work in one setup. It greatly improves the ability to make complex parts. This technology allows the machine tool to do precision machining at multiple angles and faces. It does this without needing to move the workpiece. Compared to traditional 3-axis machining, 4-axis machining greatly improves efficiency and accuracy. It cuts time and costs and reduces complexity. For parts that need drilling, cutting, or engraving on multiple faces, 4-axis CNC machining is a cheap and efficient solution.

5-axis CNC machining

Benefits of 5-axis CNC machining

5-axis CNC machining technology has made great advances in manufacturing. It is known for its high accuracy and efficiency. This technology can operate on five separate axes at once. It greatly cuts production time and allows the handling of complex shapes. Five-axis machining has enabled machining centers to approach workpieces from any angle. This allows complex machining tasks to be done without needing to reposition and clamp the workpiece. This capability increases machining speed. It also cuts reliance on complex fixtures. This, in turn, lowers production costs. Also, 5-axis machining can complete many surfaces in one setup. This ensures high accuracy and consistency. It provides an ideal solution for making high-precision parts. These advantages make 5-axis CNC machining the best technology. It is for making complex parts in the aerospace, automotive, medical, and high-tech industries.

4 and 5-Axis CNC Machining Applications

4- and 5-axis CNC machining technologies have unique capabilities. They play an important role in many industries. These technologies can meet the needs of making a wide range of complex parts. They greatly expand what manufacturing can do.

Four-axis CNC machining is used for parts that need to be machined on multiple surfaces. But, they have simple shapes. For example, the aerospace industry commonly uses 4-axis machining. It is used to make complex engine parts and propellers. It is also used in consumer electronics. It makes metal phone and laptop housings. This enables fast and accurate mass production.

Five-axis CNC machining is an upgrade of four-axis CNC machining. It can handle more complex shapes, like parts with curved surfaces and hard-to-reach corners. This makes 5-axis machining very useful. It is especially so in industries like aerospace, automotive, medical devices, and mold making. For example, spacecraft parts and engine parts for cars rely on 5-axis machining. Orthopedic implants and surgical tools in medicine also rely on them. They need its high precision and flexibility for their complex designs.

Choose 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining

The choice of 4- or 5-axis CNC machining depends on a few key factors. These are part complexity, production volume, and budget. Understanding how these factors affect the decision process is crucial. It’s key to maximizing productivity and cost-effectiveness.

Complexity of the part: 5-axis CNC machining is often better. It’s a good choice if the part has complex geometry, needs multi-face machining, or has hard-to-reach areas. 5-axis machines can machine from almost any angle in one setup. This reduces how often you need to manually reposition the part. So, it keeps high accuracy. In contrast, if the part is simple or the machining requirements are not high, then 4-axis machining may be enough.

Production volumes: For high-volume production, 3- or 4-axis CNC machining may be preferable due to its lower running costs. However, for medium to small batches of precise parts, 5-axis machining offers extra flexibility. It also reduces manual work. This can lead to big time and cost savings.

Budget: 5-axis machines typically cost more to purchase and maintain than 4-axis machines. If the budget is limited, you may need to assess if the extra features of a 5-axis machine are needed. However, 5-axis machining can provide long-term savings and productivity. For some applications, it may be worth making a higher initial investment for a higher return.

When choosing between 4-axis or 5-axis CNC machining, you must evaluate the project’s needs. This includes the part’s complexity, the lot size, and the budget. The right choice will not only ensure a high-quality product. It will also boost productivity and be cost-effective.

CNC machining in progress


We have discussed the benefits of 4-axis and 5-axis CNC machining. We covered where they apply and how to choose between them. These advanced CNC technologies are vital. They meet the modern manufacturing industry’s need for precision, efficiency, and complexity. It handles complex shapes. It also boosts productivity without raising costs. 4- and 5-axis CNC machines offer unmatched solutions for manufacturing.

If you have questions about how to use our 4- or 5-axis CNC machining services to meet your project goals, or if you need a detailed quote, the team at Yonglihao Machinery is happy to help. We look forward to working with you. We will use your designs to achieve your manufacturing goals.


3+2 Axis CNC machining is a special type of CNC machining. It combines the features of both 3-axis and 5-axis machines. In 3+2 axis machining, the machine first uses its two extra axes (usually the A and B axes) to position the workpiece at the desired angle. Then, it uses the other three axes (X, Y, and Z) to machine in this fixed position. This method provides more machining flexibility. It avoids the complexity and cost of continuous 5-axis machining.

In some cases, using 4- or 5-axis milling may not be the best option. The part’s shape is simple. It does not need complex tilt angles or hard-to-reach areas to be machined. So, 3-axis machining may be enough. It will save cost and time. Also, for high-volume projects, simple designs may benefit from traditional machining. It can achieve higher productivity through simpler processes and lower equipment costs.


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