From 3-axis milling to 5-axis simultaneous machining
Milling machines are designed for 3-axis machining in their simplest form: The tool moves over the workpiece in the X, Y and Z directions. For example, A rotary axis in the headstock or table expands the machining spectrum because components can also be placed at an angle. However, this is only a preliminary stage for 5-axis milling, which machine tool manufacturers implement via a second rotary axis. This allows almost any orientation of the workpiece, so that it can be machined from five sides in one clamping operation. Components made of metal can also be manufactured in complex geometries. Only the machining of the sixth side requires further clamping.
The supreme discipline of milling has developed out of 5-axis technology: 5-axis simultaneous machining. All axes are interpolated, which gives the milling machine maximum versatility. The kinematics of the CNC machine are usually housed in a swivel rotary table, which continuously moves the component while the milling tool removes material. An alternative is head kinematics. Here, the milling head has two round axes to move freely around a workpiece. The 5-axis simultaneous milling enables the production of so-called free-form surfaces, which are common in mold construction, for example.