It’s no secret that shops are always trying to find ways to boost production and reduce costs. A sophisticated approach entails using 5-axis CNC machining instead of 3-axis machining to make parts in one setup instead of three or four setups. Production houses can set-up fixtures on the multi-axis machines, ready the materials, and just press Start. Automated pallet changers and automated tool changers let the machines run lights-out almost 24/7.
The approach lets operators — who need not be skilled machinists — run as many machines as possible. Our shop, for instance, has one person running five or six rapid prototyping machines and another person running four different five-axis machines. This cuts labor costs, makes machining more efficient, and boosts production.
Multi-axis machines can cut parts from materials including aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. But their real beauty is they can handle the cutting of very complex parts such as impellers for automotive. Running families of parts almost eliminates the need to change setups at all, just bolt on a different fixture, and away you go. Our production runs for complex parts range from hundreds to thousands of parts.
We see a lot of demand for the efficient machining of complex parts and feel that most of the more sophisticated shops are either already using multi-axis machines or are headed in that direction.