Skip to main content

Choosing the Right CNC Machine: 3-7-Axis Machining

Maximizing Precision and Efficiency: Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of 3-Axis, 5-Axis, and 7-Axis Machining

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining is a method of manufacturing that utilizes pre-programmed computer software to control the movement of machinery and tools. CNC machines come in various configurations, including 3-axis, 5-axis, and 7-axis machines. Each configuration has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one for your manufacturing needs requires careful consideration.

The 3-Axis CNC Machine

The 3-axis CNC machine is the most basic type of CNC machine. It uses three axes – X, Y, and Z – to control the movement of the cutting tool. This configuration is ideal for simple parts with straight edges and flat surfaces. The advantages of a 3-axis CNC machine include:

  1. Simplicity: The 3-axis CNC machine is the simplest and most affordable type of CNC machine. It is easy to program and operate, making it ideal for small and medium-sized businesses.
  2. High Precision: The 3-axis CNC machine is highly accurate, making it suitable for producing precision parts with tight tolerances.

However, the 3-axis CNC machine has some limitations. It is not suitable for complex shapes or parts with curved surfaces. It is also not ideal for manufacturing parts with undercuts or deep cavities.

The 5-Axis CNC Machine

The 5-axis CNC machine adds two additional axes – A and B – to the X, Y, and Z axes of the 3-axis CNC machine. This configuration allows the cutting tool to move in five directions, enabling the production of complex parts with curved surfaces and undercuts. The advantages of a 5-axis CNC machine include:

  1. Increased efficiency: 5-axis machines can perform multiple machining operations in one setup, reducing the need for multiple setups and reducing production time.
  2. Improved accuracy: With more axes, the cutting tool can be positioned more precisely, resulting in higher accuracy and a better surface finish.
  3. Greater flexibility: 5-axis machines can produce complex shapes and contours that are difficult or impossible to produce with 3-axis machines.

However, the 5-axis CNC machine is more expensive than the 3-axis CNC machine, and it requires more programming and setup time. It is also more difficult to operate and maintain.

The 7-Axis CNC Machine

The 7-axis CNC machine adds two additional axes – C and D – to the X, Y, Z, A, and B axes of the 5-axis CNC machine. This configuration allows the cutting tool to rotate and tilt, enabling the production of parts with complex geometries and contours. The advantages of a 7-axis CNC machine include:

  1. Enhanced precision: With seven axes of movement, 7-axis machines can produce extremely precise parts with high dimensional accuracy.
  2. Improved tool life: 7-axis machines can use shorter cutting tools, which can reduce tool wear and extend tool life.
  3. Increased production speed: 7-axis machines can perform multiple operations simultaneously, resulting in faster production times and increased productivity.
  4. Versatility: The 7-axis CNC machine can produce parts with complex geometries and contours, making it suitable for industries such as aerospace, medical, and defense.

However, the 7-axis CNC machine is the most expensive and complex type of CNC machine. It requires significant programming and setup time, and it is not suitable for small businesses.

Choosing the Right CNC Machine

When choosing a CNC machine, it is important to consider your manufacturing needs, budget, and expertise. If you are a small business with simple part requirements, a 3-axis CNC machine may be the most cost-effective option. If you require complex parts with curved surfaces or undercuts, a 5-axis CNC machine may be the best choice. If you require high precision and intricate parts with complex geometries, a 7-axis CNC machine may be the most suitable option.

Through our CNC businesses Domaille Engineering, Stanley Engineering, and Tech Manufacturing, now known as ADDMAN Precision plus HARBEC, we offer a wide range of CNC machining services, including 3-7-axis machining. Our experienced team can help you choose the right CNC machine for your needs.

Contact us today to learn more.

Request a quote. 

Read More Insights

Read All

Introducing ADDMAN Precision: Your Complete Solution for CNC Manufacturing


CNC vs Metal Additive Manufacturing: Which Method Is Right for Your Product?

Get Started

Take the first step to Power the Pursuit. Begin today with a simple metal or polymer quote on a 3D printed part, submit a complex quote request or schedule a conversation and share your challenges.