Axis Precision Engineering Components Blog

Not all 5 axis CNC machining is made equal!

Posted by Axis Precision Engineering Ltd. on 17/08/17 17:09
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Not every engineering workshop has:

This blog post shows you how to recognise a precision engineering company that ticks all the right boxes.

In short, when you're looking for top notch 5 axis CNC machining you need to read this!

The point is, not all CNC machining is the same.

Just because a workshop has 5 axis machines, it doesn't mean it can handle the complexities of aerospace and motorsport component geometry in the same way as the engineering company down the road.

For a modern workshop to successfully manufacture complex components suitable for these sectors, a number of factors need to converge.

As mentioned, the ideal workshop will have a blend of sophisticated 5 axis machining capacity and capability, exceptional CAM software, engineering expertise to push the CNC machining to the limits  and a rigorous quality inspection process. 

This blend means, your parts will always be Right First Time! You can download our motorsport case study to this in the flesh.

Without this blend an inferior workshop is doing 3 axis machining on a 5 axis machine!

And while that may eventually get your parts machined to the tolerances and quality the project requires, it's not efficient. Your project will be slower and cost more as a result. 

Let's consider each of the requirements in turn. First the CNC machines themselves.

Not all 5 axis machines are made equal

Complex work requires high end equipment. For precision engineering this means DMG, Hurco etc.. Lower quality machines mean reduced capabilities, it's as simple as that. Request a capacity list and you will be able to see at a glance the machining capability a workshop has.

5_axis_CNC_machining_for_Motorsport_F1.jpg

Not all 5 axis CNC machining software is equal

If we're talking about holes in an engine casing, widgets or other straightforward commercial work CAM software is an overindulgence. But the more complicated a job, the better the software needs to be. High end software can handle the component geometry other options cannot. Essentially the software needs to compliment the 5 axis machine, otherwise there is no way it can be used as effectively as required.

For example, top end CAM software has collision avoidance technology. Products such as Open Mind Hypermill feature 3D models of parts and tools which make it easy for the programmer to see operations in action. The program, meanwhile, looks at every move the tools make and predicts collisions before they happen. So, without collisions, machining operations run smoothly and the manufacturing process remains efficient. A win for sophisticated software!

Not all 5 axis CNC engineers and programmers are equal

Engineers and programmers need to understand their 5 axis machine's capability - what it can and can't do. Then they need CAM software so programming that is capable of pushing the machine to the limits can be written. But, if they haven't got sufficient engineering experience they will fall short.

On engineering.com Wade Anderson, product specialist sales manager at Okuma sums up this shortfall nicely

"Sometimes it’s difficult for (engineers and programmers) to think about processing this part with an upper turn, a lower turn, a main spindle and a sub-spindle, all in the process at one time. It’s overwhelming"

To efficiently manufacture complex components engineers need

  • to fully understand what their 5 axis machines are capable of
  • powerful, high end CAM software that enables programming to fully utilise these capabilities
  • the engineering experience to plan and apply these capabilities to a given project.

With sufficient experience, your workshop's engineers will even be able to tweak your designs - locating problems before they become issues and improving your lead time by optimising your component for manufacture.

Not every workshop has this combination of machine, software and experience. To choose the right supplier you need to ensure they have the right equipment and people. 

Finally, not all CNC Inspection is equal

At Axis, our dedicated Quality Control Manager combined with the ISO 9001 accreditation. mean you parts WILL be Right First Time!

The CNC workshop you use should take a systematic approach to quality management with the appropriate checks at every stage of the manufacturing process. If mistakes are picked up early, they won't be passed on to you – no reworking, no delays, no penalties downstream!

You margin will remain intact.

If your workshop doesn't have a rigorous quality control process, you're open to suffering delays from a range of potential sources - which can  often be hard to identify. Opt for systematic Quality Control, every time!

How do I choose the right supplier

A great yardstick is to check out the machines and the software that runs those machines. If both of these are high end, you can be sure they have the capability to do complex work.

You'll need to talk to the engineers to establish whether they have the engineering experience to actually fulfil the project requirements! If you're having sub-optimal results with your current supplier, our quick quiz will inform you if it's time to switch!

Axis PEC Ltd. do straightforward commercial work but also have the capacity and capability for complex jobs - hence the CAM software to complement our DMG 5 axis machining centres.

To see if we have the engineering know-how to get the most from our machines and the software that runs them download our Motorsport Case Study eBook - Reinventing the Wheel. Just click the image below, you'll love it!

reinventing the wheel - precision engineering case study

Topics: precision engineering

Axis Precision Engineering Components Ltd.

Arnhem House, Bentalls, Basildon, Essex, SS14 3BX

01268 271144

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