Tel: 860-571-3602  |

Hartford Technologies Blog

How 5-Axis Mills Can Reduce Production Time

Posted: Feb 8, 2023 10:28:32 AM

CNC machining has revolutionized the manufacturing industry. CNC mills provide precise and efficient production capabilities.

One of the latest advancements in this technology is the integration of multi-axis CNC technology, specifically 5-axis machining. Manufacturers use CNC machining to create parts for all sorts of industries using a variety of materials.

In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of using 5-axis CNC mills and how they can help reduce production time in manufacturing.

What Is a 5-Axis Mill?

First, let's define what 5-axis CNC machining is. CNC stands for computer numerical control. Machinists can program CNC equipment to automatically form materials into a particular shape.

Technicians use CAD and CAM software to instruct the CNC machine on how to move. The machine uses a cutting tool that rotates at high speeds. In addition to moving the cutting tool, the mill moves the part along various axes.

A 5-axis CNC machine uses five different axes of motion to create parts. These axes include the standard three linear axes (X, Y, and Z) and two additional rotary axes (A and B).

  • X-Axis: side to side
  • Y-Axis: front to back
  • Z-Axis: up and down

The rotary axes of motion are used to rotate a part around one of the linear axes. This allows for a greater level of precision and flexibility in the machining process.

5-Axis vs 3-Axis CNC Machining

One of the main benefits of using a 5-axis CNC milling machine is the ability to reduce production time. This is because a 5-axis machine can perform multiple operations on a single setup.

A 3-axis machine, on the other hand, requires multiple setups to complete the same task. This not only saves time but also reduces the potential for human error and increases overall efficiency.

5-axis machines are often easier to set up than 3-axis machines. These instruments have the ability to machine without the need for fixturing, which can save time and money.

The 5th-axis allows for the ability to change cutting angles, so operators don't have to reset the machine. This also means that the machine can run continuously instead of having to interrupt it for different stages of production.

Because machinists have to spend less time on setup, cycle time is usually much faster. The repetition of 5-axis machining makes it a great option for a bulk of parts or a small number of individualized prototypes.

Complex Parts

Another benefit of 5-axis CNC machining is the ability to create intricate shapes that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with a 3-axis machine.

5-axis machines can rotate and tilt the workpiece in various directions, allowing for a greater range of motion and more precise cuts. This allows manufacturers to create more complex, detailed, and accurate parts than ever before. Machinists can maintain a tighter tolerance with less effort than on other machines.

5-axis CNC mills can also perform a broader range of operations, such as drilling, tapping, and milling on the same machine. This reduces the need for multiple machines in a shop.

Because 5-axis machines can move in more ways than 3-axis machines, they reduce the vibration of the part. The reduced vibration creates a smoother surface finish, allowing for a more streamlined manufacturing process with less material waste.


Because 5-axis machining is faster and often less expensive for production, you may wonder why more shops don't use it. Although they have many advantages over 3-axis machines, 5-axis mills can be more difficult to program.

The additional axes of motion make the CAM software rather complicated. It takes an experienced technician to program a 5-axis mill. Thankfully, at Hartford Technologies, we have both!

Applications of 5-Axis CNC Machining

5-axis CNC machining has a wide range of applications in the manufacturing industry. Its ability to machine detailed parts with high precision makes it ideal for certain industries.

When the first 5-axis machines went on the market, they were so expensive that manufacturers only used them for aerospace. Now, even small machine shops can use them for everyday production.

Machinists use this technology to manufacture complex aerospace components such as turbine blades and aircraft fuselages. 5-axis CNC machines are also useful for car parts like engines, transmission parts, and steering systems.

Another application of 5-axis machining is for medical devices, such as prosthetic limbs and dental implants. The advanced mills allow for precise parts that conform to specific medical requirements.

Other industries that use 5-axis milling include:

  • Marine
  • Electronics
  • Mold and dye making
  • Jewelry

Materials 5-Axis Mills Can Machine

When someone thinks of CNC machining, they most likely have steel in mind. However, 5-axis milling is useful for machining all sorts of materials:

  • Metals: steel, stainless, aluminum, brass, and copper
  • Plastics: ABS, PVC, and nylon
  • Composites: carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar
  • Ceramics: alumina, zirconia, and silicon nitride
  • Wood: All types
  • Foams: polystyrene, polyurethane, and expanded polypropylene

Top Quality Machining Services

In recent years, 5-axis CNC machining has become a vital tool in the manufacturing industry. The mills provide precise and efficient production capabilities.

Using a 5-axis CNC milling machine, manufacturers can reduce production time, create precise shapes, and perform a broader range of operations on a single machine; this leads to a more streamlined manufacturing process.

Hartford Technologies has nearly 100 years of experience manufacturing precision parts. Contact us today to learn more about our machining services.