5 of the Latest 5-Axis Milling Machines

29 May 2024
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CNC machining has come a long way since its advent post World War II. Developments in machining technology allow for faster and more accurate production of parts. 

Enter 5-axis machines.

With their ability to move a part or cutting tool along 5 axes simultaneously, 5-axis machines offer new possibilities for the production of complex parts. Given these capabilities, it’s no wonder that 5-axis machines have been increasingly adopted into machine shops, particularly in aerospace and automotive manufacturing.

However, the trend towards 5-axis machining spans across the wider machining industry, with the size of the sector projected to reach astronomical heights over the next decade. According to a report by Technavio, the market size for 5-axis CNC machining centres is predicted to be worth $15 billion by 2027.

5-axis machines truly represent a new era in precision machining. Manufacturers can find a vast range of machines on offer, each designed to fit a variety of machining requirements.

Here, we outline the 5 of the latest 5-axis machines making waves.

 

1. DMG Mori – DMF 400|11

dmf 400 11 linear product picture courtesy of DMG Mori 1
Photo courtesy of DMG Mori

DMG Mori is a giant in machining. As a global manufacturer, the company works across 43 countries with over 13,000 employees. DMG Mori manufactures equipment for a range of machining processes including turning, milling, grinding, boring as well as ultrasonic, lasertec and additive manufacturing

The DMF 400|11 is the latest addition to its DMF range and the successor to its previous DMF travelling-column machine model. The machine offers a variety of new features including larger capacity and stiffer materials to decrease vibration and increase precision. 

The machine doesn’t disappoint. According to ETMM, “In a double ballbar test, the DMF 400|11 achieves an accuracy of 5 µm, making the machine ideal for producing large moulds, dies and tools, as well as precision structural parts within the machine’s 4,000 x 1,100 x 1,050 mm working envelope.”

If that’s not all, the machine can be upgraded with standard automation or fitted with a customised automation solution for flexible manufacturing systems so machine shops can enjoy even more opportunities for increased productivity. 

2. Mazak – VC-500A/5X vertical machining center 

VC500A5X
Photo courtesy of Mazak

Mazak is no stranger to innovation. As a company that dates back over a century, Mazak has produced a number of groundbreaking machines, including developing the first commercial machine tool in 1928.

Their latest offering is the 5-axis VC-500A/5X vertical machining center. Combining additive and subtractive processes, it allows manufacturers to take products from start to finish in one machine. Staying in the same workstation reduces the risk of inaccuracies from moving parts as well as reducing lead times and part costs. 

Mazak teamed up with Lincoln Electric, the designer, developer and manufacturer of arc welding products, robotic arc welding systems and plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment to develop the machine’s hot wire deposition (HWD). The addition of HWD laser technology provides “a high-speed additive solution and programmable welding automation, as well as full five-axis machining center capabilities”. 

With all of these features in one centre, the VC-500A/5X is truly a hybrid machine.

 

3. Zimmerman Inc. – FZU/FZP42

Zimmerman 1
Photo courtesy of Zimmerman

Established over 90 years ago, Zimmerman is a family-owned machining company, specialising in modular machine systems with thermo-symmetrical gantry to ensure both high accuracy and freedom of design. 

The FZU/FZP42 is a 5-axis milling machine designed for heavy workpiece machining. Zimmerman achieves this by marrying their signature thermo-symmetrical design with a centrally guided Z-slide. 

Zimmerman reports, “[t]his particular construction, as well as the guide layout, increase its stability, while also saving weight at the same time – resulting in a more dynamic, productive and energy efficient machine.”

As such, the machine is suitable for use in the aerospace and automotive industries as well as the machining of workpieces in shipbuilding and the alternative energy industry.

The introduction of the FZU/FZP42 reflects Zimmerman’s efforts to diversify its portfolio in terms of heavy machining.

 

4. Matsuura – MX-850 Single Table 5 Axis Machining Centre

matsuura 1
Photo courtesy of Matsuura

With their company motto, “Do what no one else can do”, Matsuura has been innovating machining since 1935. The company has a global scope and a product offering that focuses on unmanned operation, multi-tasking and integration. 

The MX-850 made its debut at MACH 2024 and is the largest machine in the MX series. Matsuura designed the tool to be “5 axis machine capable of operating at maximum specification in the most arduous of machining environments”. 

Moreover, the machine features a large capacity and cost-effective single-table Matsuura 5-axis CNC machining platform. According to Masuura, the versatility and robustness of the machine tool have seen its adoption by motorsport transmission manufacturers, precision subcontractors and aerospace OEMs.

The MX-850 is shaping up to be another heavy hitter from Matsuura.

 

5. Penta Machine Company – The Solo

penta
Photo courtesy of Penta Machine Company

When you think of office appliances you may think of microwaves, watercoolers and printers. What about a 5-axis milling machine? 

Penta Machine Company came to prominence in 2011 with the invention of the Pocket NC, a CNC Milling machine designed to sit atop a desk. Their machines are designed with the aim of making CNC milling accessible for “startups, thinkers, and makers everywhere”.

In April of this year, Penta released the Solo, a compact 5-axis machine that packs a big punch. It was designed to sport the same features as an industrial machine while still being able to fit through a man door. 

The solo can cut a range of materials including plastics, aluminium, steel and titanium. Its design prioritises faster and more accurate movement with servo and ball screw-driven axes. The Solo’s web-based software is equally designed for accessibility and can be used on a variety of different devices including phones, tablets and laptops.

With state-of-the-art firmware and software, the Solo represents a big offering in a small package.

 

The tip of the iceberg

aerospace 1
Photo courtesy of Intrex Aerospace

With the rapid growth of the sector, the machines outlined above represent only a small offering of what’s available in the 5-axis machining market. The diversity represented by this small sample of machines is impressive. Manufacturers can find a 5-axis machine to suit any requirements they have, part weight, speed of production or limitations on space all without sacrificing machining precision. 

Finally, with machines increasingly optimised for automation, machinists can boost productivity and part quality like never before.

With the major exhibitions coming up later this year, such as the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and the Japan International Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF), there will certainly be even more 5-axis machines to get excited about.

 

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