Why does three-axis machining still exist?

What is three-axis machining?

A three-axis CNC machine has three axes of linear motion in different directions. These axes are the X-axis in the left-right direction, the Y-axis in the front-rear direction, and the Z-axis in the up-down direction. The Z axis is the main shaft, which can rotate at high speed. Three-axis machining is processed by feeding spools X, Y, and Z. When the tool moves along the path, the cutting direction does not change. But the cutting conditions of the tool tip cannot be perfect at the same time.

A three-axis machining center is a three-axis machine tool equipped with a tool magazine. At the same time, according to the motion coordinates and the coordinates controlled by the machine tool center, there are 3 axes and 2 linkages, and 3 axes and 3 linkages.

Currently, three-axis machining centers are still the most popular machining centers on the market.

Three-axis CNC machining center


What are the advantages of three-axis machining?

1.Easy to program.

During machining, the tool orientation of the 3-axis machining center will change, and the movement methods are also limited, so programming is relatively easy.

2.High cost performance.

Three-axis machining centers are less expensive than four- and five-axis vertical machining centers.

3.Easy maintenance.

Three-axis machining centers do not have auxiliary structures like four- and five-axis machining centers. So easy to maintain.

4.Easy to improve

The three-axis machining center can be equipped with the fourth axis and the fifth axis. This increases the machining range and allows multiple surfaces to be machined in one setup.

5.Competitive price

Often, 3-axis CNC machining suppliers can offer competitive prices on simple parts. Because their machines are cheap and easy to program. Some experienced programmers and operators can even machine complex parts perfectly through the flexible use of fixtures, which can also provide machining solutions for complex parts.


What are the limitations of three-axis machining?

1.Long Tool

The 3-axis tool length is long and the tool cost is high.

2.Roughness issues

Roughness issues increase due to vibrations from long tools.


Due to the increase in the process, more mold clamping is required.

4.Tool wear

Tool wear is common during 3-axis machining.

5.Number of tools

3-axis machining has a higher number of tools than 4-axis machining or 5-axis machining.


Sometimes a part will gouge during 3-axis machining, which will result in an N.G part.

7.Repeat the calibration

Since three-axis machining requires multiple processes and multiple clamping, repeated calibration is required. Repeated calibration of the tool will have cumulative tolerances.

8.Difficult to operate

The three-axis vertical CNC machining center can perform multi-pass processing in one clamping, but can only process the top surface. In short, only one machined surface can be machined at a time, and other machined surfaces are not available, such as sides and mounting surfaces. Often, the operator needs to clamp multiple times to complete a part, which does challenge the professionalism of the worker.

9.Limited processing range

Due to the inconvenience of clamping, the three-axis vertical machining center is mainly used for the processing of discs, sleeves and plates.

10.Limited processing capacity

A four- or five-axis machining center can do almost everything a three-axis can do, but a three-axis can’t.

11.Long processing cycle

This is the fatal disadvantage of three-axis machining. In most cases, three-axis machining requires multiple setups and many other auxiliary processes. Such as EDM, wire cutting, turning and grinding. This way the machining cycle will be much longer than 4-axis or 5-axis machining. Labor costs also increase.

in conclusion

Three-axis machining is top-notch due to its programming, cost-effectiveness, and maintenance. But three-axis machining is also limited by the processing range, cycle, quality and precision.

For the manufacture of simple or small parts, three-axis machining is ideal. Three-axis machining is still around because they still meet the demands of current machining jobs. It is cost-effective for both suppliers and customers. But things are gradually changing. With labor costs getting higher and higher, 3-axis machining won’t be as cost-effective in the near future.

Application field

Three-axis machining is widely used to provide machining services for automobiles, motorcycles, robots, machines, and many other mechanical parts. Available Materials: Metal and Plastic.

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