4 axis machining uses four axes instead of three. If you did not know, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines can cut or shape metal parts using computer numerical control programming. They are also known as numerically controlled machine tools.
However, 4 axis machining allows us to perform complex operations including milling, turning, and drilling. These machines can perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
Machines for shaping workpieces have improved hugely since 3-axis computer numerical control centres were popular. The addition of 4 axes has affected machining positively, which is why we want to provide updated information.
Although manufacturers are widely using 4 axis machining, there are few sources that include relevant information and specifications. We want to reduce this confusion and complication in choosing the appropriate computer-controlled piece of machinery for your needs.
This article provides the incredible benefits of 4-axis CNC machines, their types, operation methods, advantages, and the scope of application for 2022.
What Is 4 Axis Machining?
CNC 4 axis machining is a computer numerical control machine that can move its tooling in four directions: up and down, left, and right, forward, and backward. As a result, we can create three-dimensional objects by cutting away material from a block of material. This feature can also help to develop four-sided objects from flat material.
Moreover, the fourth axis of 4 axis machining can rotate the workpiece around its vertical axis which allows for more complex shapes. The machine typically rotates around a vertical axis in the centre of the machine. Better yet, this machine usually has speed control that is similar to the tool changer on a CNC milling machine.
How It Works
Each axis has its own controller like a router that can perform different operations based on instructions sent over a communications link. In addition to moving, the axes can also hold a workpiece in position with rapid-clamping systems while the robot arm performs an operation.
What is better is 4 axis machining has more power and higher accuracies than 2-axis or 3-axis machines. The increased accuracy is due to the movements of the fourth axis which rotates around the vertical axis and gives it a 360-degree range of motion.
The Types Of 4 Axis Machining
There are a variety of 4-axis CNC machines, however, the two most common are indexing and continuous machine.
Indexing means holding your part stationary while the tool rotates along the fourth axis. The process of indexing allows you to reach areas that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to access with a traditional setup.
Continuous machining means that there is no downtime, which means we can cut a single piece of stock repeatedly while the machine is running. The device can cut material simultaneously with the A-axis rotation.
There are also hybrid types of 4 axis machining that combine the benefits of both 2- and 3-axis machining. With these, the components are cut on one axis and then moved to a second axis for milling or drilling.
Five Incredible Benefits Of 4 Axis Machining
4-axis milling is useful when you make holes and cut-outs on the side of a piece or around a cylinder. They can provide quick and efficient work based on computer numerical inputs for precise results.
Also, 4 axis machining is an excellent investment for businesses that want to improve their production process. A 4-axis CNC machine can manage more complex shapes and designs, which can speed up the production process.
Below are the benefits that 4 axis machining provides:
1. Accuracy And Precision
Using 4 axis machining produces more accurate and precise results than a 3-axis machine because it can move in four directions (X, Y, Z, and A). This allows for greater control over the cutting process and more flexibility when machining complex shapes.
2. Prevent Human Error
We control all axes by the same computer; therefore, operators can easily and accurately make corrections without interfering with each other’s work.
3. Novel Design Concepts
If you have a novel design that was not possible to make before, then 4 axis machining will serve you best because we can make computer-generated models of objects or structures.
You can also use it to design complex shapes and bring them to life as physical models.
4. It Is Portable
4 axis machining is possible in various locations. You can take it anywhere you need whereas a 3-axis machine limits you to the size of the shop where it is located.
5. Better Surface Finish
The rotating fourth axis can sit closer to the cutting tool. If the part can get closer to the cutting tool, then the cutting tool can be shorter.
A shorter cutting tool is less susceptible to vibration at higher cutting speeds, which directly impacts the surface finish.
Unique Projects You Can Complete
The best part about 4 axis machining is the variety of projects it can take on.
An example is fabricating custom parts or components for machinery. This could involve creating replacement pieces to improve efficiency or performance as well as creating parts to complete the manufacturing of an appliance. Other common projects include 3D modeling and printing, making prototype or concept models, and the production of custom carvings such as hobby signs.
Another application of 4 axis machining is fabricating custom tools or dies which involves creating a custom tool or die for a specific application or manufacturing process. For example, it may be necessary to create an eccentric tool or die to precisely finish a surface, like the bottom of a gear. In this case, we can program the machine to produce one side of the part, and then rotate the part 90 degrees and complete the other side using the same setup.
Aerospace also uses 4-axis CNC machining. Typical aerospace machining involves turning, milling, drilling, and other processes. The high precision of this type of machining is particularly desirable for machining tiny gears used in aircraft and spacecraft.
Contact us to start your project. We are happy to assist.