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What is 5-axis machining?

The term “5-axis machining” can be used with many different applications. From a CNC standpoint, the same methodology and programming functions can be used for 5-axis simultaneous, 5-sided, 3+2 machining, and even 4-axis machining. In many cases, a 3-axis machine can do the work of a 5-axis machine. The main difference is the setup and fixturing time. A single setup on a 5-axis machine saves the additional time allocated to aligning the part or manually reorienting the part, possibly multiple times, to produce the final product.

How does 5-axis machining help you?

  • A 5-axis machine can do the work of multiple 3-axis machines
  • Eliminate the need to manually reorient and refixture parts
  • Shorten your cycle time up to 50 percent with faster setups
  • Many job shops are using 5-axis machining to expand into the aerospace, mold & die and medical device industries
  • Machine more complex geometries
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for costly fixtures


How FANUC controls help you reap the production benefits from 5-axis machining

Because FANUC has a global install base of more than 4 million CNCs and over 20 million servo motors, we are a world leader in CNC technology. By using FANUC’s highly reliable CNC Series 30i-B Plus and/or 30i-Busing our 30i-B controls, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your machine’s 5-axis capabilities.

The best functionality

For 5-axis simultaneous contouring, a quality CAD/CAM system is critical.  The CAM system determines the required tool path and approximates it with a sequence of points.  The post translates those points to a specific machine and CNC application.  FANUC has tools and example programs to help set up posts for optimal functionality.

Simplified programming

FANUC’s advanced functions like Workpiece Setting Error Compensation (G54.4) and Tool Center Point (G43.4/G43.5) allow you to eliminate complex math from post processors and make part programs that are machine independent.  By “programming parts, not machines,” the same part can be run on multiple machines even those with mechanical difference.


FANUC’s Tilted Working Plane (G68.2) function can be used to create a temporary local coordinate system for a specific operation on the part.  This is especially useful if canned cycles or other local operations are required.

Improved part quality

FANUC’s AI Contour Control (G5.1 Q1) and Smooth Tolerance Control (G5.1 Q3) enable advanced real-time spline look ahead algorithms that interpret the sequence of CAM approximated points as a smooth spline.  This results in producing a more accurate part with better surface finish in a shorter cycle time.

Optimized machining

FANUC’s Easy Setting Function (G8.1 Px) allows the programmer to define process specific dynamic profiles for the tool path so the machine can use an optimal performance profile for roughing, general, or finish processes to help optimize cycle times.

Highest accuracy

Probing is critical for 5-axis contouring in order to automatically calibrate the kinematic for accuracy as well as precisely locate the part and set the part coordinate system.  FANUC has many probing routines for automatic kinematic calibration and part location available in Manual Guide i and iHMI.

FANUC helps take the complexity out of 5-axis machining

Essential FANUC functions

The Machining Standard Package III (R372) includes all the critical FANUC functions needed to optimize 5-axis machining performance – offered in a single discounted collection.  Make sure any planned 5-axis machine includes this package.

Workforce development

Do your people have the right skills to run advanced machinery? FANUC’s CNC Machining Simulation for Workforce Development now includes 5-axis training to develop the workforce you need.

Have a support team

To minimize your headaches and downtime, FANUC offers lifetime support on all our products and services. So we are always there to get you quickly back up and running!