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No of axis

In the simplest terms, 5-axis machining involves using a CNC to move a part or cutting tool along five
different axes simultaneously. This enables the machining of very complex parts, which is why 5-axis is
especially popular for aerospace applications.

However, several factors have contributed to the wider adoption of 5-axis machining. These include:

A push toward single-setup machining (sometimes referred to as Done-in-One) to reduce lead time
and increase efficiency

The ability to avoid collision with the tool holder by tilting the cutting tool or the table, which also allows
better access to part geometry

Improved tool life and cycle time as a result of tilting the tool/table to maintain optimum cutting position
and constant chip load

Type of operation

Lathes for production of 3D shapes/molds; automatically programmed tool changes

Routers used for cutting complex/intricate shapes and prototypes from metal sheets

Milling most widely used CNC machines; predominantly for drilling and turning metals

Plasma Cutters utilized for cutting 2D shapes and molds; need less power than routers

Laser Cutters operate similar to plasma cutters, using a laser instead of a plasma torch

Cutting tools

CNC Milling: Introduction to cutting tools

Cutting tools come in a range of sizes, materials, and geometry types.

It is generally more efficient to use a combination of different toolpaths and tools to achieve a detailed
model rather than assuming that a small tool with a smaller stepover is the only way. Often, a larger tool
can achieve better finish results.
In end milling, the cutter generally rotates on an axis vertical to the workpiece. Cutting teeth are located
on both the end face of the cutter and the periphery of the cutter body.

A ball nose end mill, also known as a spherical end mill or ball end mill, has a semisphere at the tool end.
Ball nose end mills are used on workpieces with complex surfaces.

Choosing flat end mill vs. a ball end mill will determine the characteristics of the tooling marks (or lack
thereof) on your model. Most jobs will benefit from strategic use of multiple size and shape tools for
milling different features. End Mills are often used for roughing and 2D cutting and V-Bit and Ball Nose
cutters are often used for finishing operations.

End geometry

There are up-cut, down-cut, compression cut end mills with varying numbers of flutes. End mills are
intended to cut horizontally.

Up-cut, down-cut and compression cut determine the way the chips (cut material) are ejected and the
smoothness of the surface. With an up-cut end mill, the chips will be ejected upward and the bottom of
the material will be smooth. The down-cut end mill is the reverse by puching the chips downward and
the top of the material is smooth. The compression end mill creates a smooth surface on top and
bottom, which is perfect for pre-laminated woods.

End mills come in a variety of shapes. The most common are flat end mills and ball end mills. Flat end
mills will cut flat areas with no scallops. However, they leave a terrace-like scallop on non-flat surfaces.
Ball end mills will leave smaller scallops for the same stepover value on sloped surfaces, but they will
also leave scallops on flat areas.
Models can be tooled with a combination of flat and ball end mills. If only one tool will be used for all
surfaces a ball end geometry will give a more consistent overall feel and smooth result.

Flat end mills can be Center Cutting and Non Center Cutting: Center cutting square endmills are essential
for plunge milling. Non-center cutting mills are used only for side milling.

When choosing a ball end mill always chooses the largest size available. For the same stepover, a larger
tool will leave smaller scallops, thus giving a smoother result. For a generally smooth model with some
areas of fine detail, a large tool should be used for the overall job and a smaller tool should be used only
to clean out detailed areas.

Larger tools cut more cleanly, have larger clearance, and stay sharp longer. The velocity of the cutting
edge on a larger tool is higher for the same spindle speed.


Stepover is the distance the tool moves over between subsequent passes.

The stepover value (along with tool size) will determine whether the model has a smooth finish, or
tooling marks are visible. It will also directly impact cutting time. Models with a smaller stepover take
longer to cut.

The length of the cutting area within the tool determines how deep the material can be cut in one
operation this is called the maximum stepdown. This stepdown value will only be used to its maximum
when the material that is being cut is soft; for harder materials a smaller value is often required, setting
the toolpaths to mill away layers of materials in separate passes.

Flute geometry

While the number, direction and type of flutes that a cutting tool has can vary widely, the tools most
commonly used have two flutes and are up-cut spirals.

Some projects may benefit from other types of flute geometry. Contour cutting MDF or plywood sheets
would benefit from down-cut spirals as the tool would push the material against the CNC machine table
as it cuts rather than lift it.

Number of Flutes

Single Flute - Allows for larger chiploads in softer materials

Double Flute - Allows for better part finish in harder materials

Multiple Flutes - Allows for an even better part finish in harder materials

As the number of cutting edges increases, your feed rate should increase to prevent burning and
premature tool dulling. More flutes reduce chip load and improves surface finish if feed rate remains the
same. The most common flute numbers for general milling operations are two (better space for chip
ejection) and four (better surface finish).

Machining parameters
12 Common CNC Machine Parameters

When we adjust CNC router, we need to revise CNC machine parameters, such as system
parameter, manufacturer parameters, etc.

Now, let us know 12 common cnc machine parameters below in brief:

1. First CNC machine parameters -

Idle speed:

Popular speaking, it means the speed cnc engraver in idle-running state, which is running
speed of standard G00 code instruction;

2. Processing speed of cnc machine parameters -

(1) It means the effective speed in normal processing, which is the interpolating speed of
standard G-code processing instruction, such as G01, G02, G03, etc;

(2) Effective speed and interpolating speed control router machine speed when in automatic

If manufacturing program with automatic mode or MDI instruction doesn't have designated
speed, routing machines will run by specified speed herein.

3. Third CNC machine parameters -

Default speed:

Whether give up designated speed in machining program, and use system default speed
which had been set above;

4. Use default speed of cnc machine parameters -

Whether indicating system gives up cnc router speed, which specified in process program,
but apply artificial default speed;

5. Fifth CNC machine parameters -

Speed adaptive optimization:

It means if system is able to optimize machining speed according to workpiece connection

6. Sixth cnc machine parameters -

IJK incremental mode:

Whether circle programming is incremental mode, or IJK value used for circle programming,
which is generated from finishing sequence, is incremental value;

7. Seventh CNC machine parameters -

Plunge rate in Z-axis:

Whether apply specific plunge rate in Z-axis vertical downward;

8. Eighth cnc machine parameters -

Optimize speed of raising round nose router bit in Z-axis:

When Z axis moves vertical upwards, whether lift with G00 speed;

9. Ninth CNC machine parameters -

Idle (G00) instruction:

(1) This parameter is an option, which uses a fixed feed rate 100%;

(2) When indicating system executes idle-running instruction, whether neglects feed rate

Therefore, it won't affect idle-running speed when change multiplying power;

10. Tenth cnc machine parameters -

Stop router spindle automatically (need to restart) when pause or stop cnc router:

Setting: when a program is suspended or finished, whether spindle stop automatically;

11. X-axis mirror image:

Set X-axis to mirror;

12. Y-axis mirror image:

Set Y-axis to mirror;

Certainly, CNC machine parameters are not invariable, we should adjust according to
practical situation or our own habits. The premise is, to the people who are not familiar with
cnc router operation, we should debug cnc machine parameters with caution.

Besides 12 Common CNC Machine Parameters, you may also interest in:

3 Factors to Affect CNC Property.

Machining time

Career Trend

Home Job Descriptions Industrial Job Tips


By Christian Mullen; Updated July 05, 2017

Warehouse loading dock

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Calculating the cycle time on a CNC, or computer numerical controlled, machine can help
you maximize its efficiency. By looking at times through simulations, you can get the best
estimates, but by comparing the part with others you have cut in the past you can also get
an estimate without the assumptions the program may make for you. Using a more
complicated method such as actual, real-world tool movements may be the most accurate
way to get the correct cycle time.

After you have programmed the cycle in a CAM, or computer-aided manufacturing, program,
simulate the process. The CAM program can quickly simulate all of the processes and
estimate the length of the cycle. It also accounts for tool changes, and more sophisticated
programs will allow you to enter the model of CNC you will be using.
Run a simulation at the control if you have programmed the part at the machine rather than
in a CAM program. CNC controls allow you to simulate the program. This is useful for two
reasons - it will let you know of errors in the program and give you an estimate of cycle time.

Compare the part you are cutting with a similar operation. If the new part has more
complicated cuts, you can assume it will take longer than the cycle of the original part. You
also can look at the print and the final sizes to estimate cycle times. If there is a high
amount of roughing, it may take longer since roughing passes are usually about half as fast
as finishing cuts.

Look at the amount of tool changes in the program. This will affect the time of the cycle. If
there are 10 or more tool changes, the cycle will be longer than if it only uses one tool. It
takes time for the machine to put one tool back in the turret and grab another.

Use the feed rates and the number of passes in the program to calculate the time it will
take. If the roughing pass is running at 2 inches per minute and the part is 6 inches in size,
the section will take 12 minutes. Estimate the other passes, including the finishing cuts. Add
that and estimate about 30 seconds per tool change to get an estimate of total time

Workpiece set up

LED edge finder

LED edge finder

How to Set Up CNC Milling Machine

Now come to the setting up machine, although every CNC Milling machine set-up procedure
is slightly different, but here are explained these generic steps which cnc machinists practice
on a daily basis for a 3 axis vertical CNC Milling machine.

Clean Surface: Clean all surfaces like table, vise jaws and part (work piece) with cloth, so
that no oil drops, material chips remain there.

Load Tool: Load tools required to complete part (including edge finder, vise leveling at 0

Load Tool CNC Mill

Load Tool CNC Mill

Load Part: Load part (work piece) in vise or hold your part (work piece) with your machine
holding arrangements.

X,Y axiss Offsetting: Set the part (work piece) offset. For this purpose you may use edge
finder or you can do it with your End Mill Cutter (if you are using end mill cutter for tool
offset, then read Tool Offset Article). First do the zero offset for the X axis. Pick up the X0
position by using edge finder. Go to the zero offset page and add the machine absolute X
value to the value currently in the zero offset pages registry. Do the same for the Y axis.

Z axis Offsetting: After X,Y axiss offsetting set the tool length offset for each tool by loading
first tool in spindle. Manually move the Z axis down until the tools tip is near the Z0
position. Get a piece of 1.00 mm shim stock (always use any fix size of shim like 1 mm, 2
mm or 5 mm ) and hold it between the part (work piece) and the tip of the tool. Carefully
lower the Z axis in 0.001 mm increments until the shim stock can be pulled with a slight
drag. Go to your tool length offset page and enter the machines absolute Z value plus -1.00
mm in the tools registry. Repeat procedure to additional tools. Note: -1.00 mm is added for
the shim stocks thickness.

Cutter Radius Compensation: Enter each tool diameter in tool length offset page. That will
be helpful when you are using Cutter Radius Compensation in your program.

Coolant or Cutting Oil: Adjust coolant lines because coolant can properly cool tools and wash
chips away, and most important coolant will increase the cutter life.

Adjust coolant lines

Adjust coolant lines

Cycle start: Put the machine in low feed, activate single block and then press cycle start. Be
careful and read every block programmed and watch each movement the machine makes
ready to stop the machine in case there are any programming errors. (You could also run the
program 10 mm or whatever above the part (work piece) to make sure everything is good
and use Dry Run if you feel it necessary.)