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What is 3-axis and 4-axis CNC machining?

Sage Metal Parts > Blog > What is 3-axis and 4-axis CNC machining?

What is 3-Axis CNC Machining?

A typical 3-axis CNC machining process involves three mechanisms in part creation. One is the spindle up and down movement, while the others are by moving it side to side and back and forth. The 3-axis CNC machining work along three axes (XYZ). While this is a suitable way to work, it has some severe limitations. One is that the angle of the cutting tool remains uniform which makes it harder to cut away parts of the material in hard-to-reach sections of the workpiece. Also, it may be necessary to carry out multiple setups for a part that drastically reduces productivity.

What is 4-Axis CNC Machining?

Based on the limitations of the 3-axis explained above, 4-axis CNC machining became more popular. The 4-axis CNC machining process encompasses the same mechanism of action. However, from its name, there is an additional axis included.

In a 4-axis CNC machine, the spindle travels along three axes: up and down, side to side, and back and forth, while the workpiece remains stationary on the machine table. The 4-axis CNC machining further rotates along the X-axis, also known as the A-axis. This extra axis allows the 4-axis CNC machining to function in situations that involve hole drilling or cut-outs.

Generally, 4-axis CNC machining is preferred to 3-axis CNC machining as it speeds up and improves the accuracy of the production process.

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