5 Axis Machining: Adding Additional Capabilities and Capacity
5 axis machining has become a hot topic for both purchasers and contract manufacturers. As engineers design more complex products and markets demand greater quality at lower prices, technology becomes both a driver to create demand as well as the answer to demand.
Logically, the more time that passes, the more advances companies make in their products. Advances typically mean greater complexity. Greater complexity forces equipment manufacturers to create machines that can produce what engineers design, to essentially keep up. On the flip side, equipment manufacturers are also advancing their own capabilities beyond pure market demands; instead pushing the market. This means engineers might find themselves with opportunity to take advantage of new manufacturing techniques, to increase quality or reduce the cost of current parts, or even to have parts produced that were otherwise unfeasible physically or economically due to complexity.
While 5 axis machining is not fresh on the manufacturing scene, recently it has become more accessible to purchasers, even if only 25% of machine shops offer simultaneous 5 axis milling. Hastreiter Industries offers such 5 axis milling for three significant values.
- Efficiency: what must take three, five or more operations with traditional 3 axis milling can take only two operations. Imagine you had to machine each side of a cube. You’d have to manually rotate the part 6 times whereas a 5 axis mill can automatically rotate the part to reach 5 of the 6 sides in one operation.
- Quality: the more times you must manually handle a part the more potential there is for something to go wrong. If you pull a part out, manually flip it to machine the new side, it will never be aligned as good as a five axis mill that can flip/rotate the part automatically.
- Complexity: you probably don’t need cubes machined. You need parts with curves upon curves in multiple directions. Simple mills with basic talent can’t do that. Just ask Beethoven, above.
UTM’s strategic new 5 axis cell is designed to create these values for our customers by adding onto our existing 5 axis capabilities. A cell is essentially a sub unit within a factory in which the equipment and personnel are located together so that they may synergistic-ally work together. In this case, I’m highlighting a new cell of 3 CNC mills.
The first machine is a Haas UMC 750SS. Weighing 19,000 pounds (8,600 kg), it can handle material up to 600 pounds (272 kg) and produce parts 20 inches in diameter (50.8 cm). The second machine is a Haas VF2. This is actually a 3 axis mill with a removable 4 axis. In the first operation, a 5 axis mill can machine five of the 6 sides of a part. The purpose of the 3 axis mill is to machine that final, bottom side. When the UMC 750SS produces a complex part, we want it to continue producing complex parts and not waste time on the last, simple operation; thus the two machines work together to optimize the efficiency and cost of the part. The third machine in the cell is a 3 and 5 axis combination. It is a Haas VF4 with a built in 5 axis on top of its 3 axis table. Think of it as the UMC 750SS and VF2 all in one machine, but smaller. It can produce 5 axis parts 8 inches in diameter and 3 axis parts 40 inches (101cm) big, giving us additional versatility.