Three Ways a 5-Axis CNC Machine Improves the Plastic Machining Process

Advances in technology depend on increasingly complex components. Plastic machined components and manifolds are no exception and must perform accurately and consistently in more demanding environments than ever before. Some components can only be produced with 5-axis machines, such as items used in the aerospace, medical, or space flight industries.   

While expert engineers can design components that will withstand almost any operating conditions, the process of machining these components can be time-consuming and expensive. Fortunately, advances in plastic machining technology, including 5-axis CNC machines, can save both manufacturers and their clients time, money, and peace of mind. Controlled Fluidics is ISO 9001:2015 registered. That means that we provide only the highest quality materials and processes to keep our clients’ projects successful and their end products safer and more reliable.

What is a 5-Axis CNC Machine?

A computer numerical control (CNC) machine works by using an engineer-generated computer program to direct precision cutting tools to remove material from a block until all that remains is the final component. CNC machines are identified by the number of axes they can cut simultaneously. The most common type of CNC machine moves in 3 linear axes. 5-axis CNC machines can cut along those three linear axes and two rotary axes, making them good options for highly complex machined plastic components.

What are 5-Axis Machined Parts Used For?

As we mentioned, we make 5-axis components for use in the aerospace industry, such as for military and civilian aircraft, even the International Space Station (ISS). More uses for 5-axis machined components are:

  • Medical diagnostic instruments. Healthcare workers use these to evaluate patient health and detect disease vectors.   
  • Medical tools for use inside and outside the body. Our products can be sterilized hundreds of times or disposable.   
  • Semiconductors for safe, consistent solid-state electrical conduction.  
  • Many items used for scientific research in the field and in the lab, like storage containers, syringes, pickup tools, and more.

How Does a 5-Axis CNC Machine Improve the Plastic Machining Process?

1. Reduced Setup Time 

Every manufacturer’s goal is to someday achieve “done in one” capabilities, a term that refers to the ability to load a block of material into a machine one time, run the program, and end up with a finished component. Is this an achievable goal? Not yet, but a 5-axis machine gets pretty close.

A 5-axis machine rotates the component to avoid removing and repositioning. This reduces time spent on the project, potential for error, and attention needed during the manufacturing process. This creates a more efficient process, thus increasing productivity. 

2. Reduced Costs 

Because a 5-axis CNC machine rotates the component while it cuts, it reduces the need for complex fixtures to hold the component in place during the machining process. Designing and creating the fixtures can be a time-consuming and costly undertaking on its own. Removing this requirement will make the overall process faster and will pass along reduced costs to the client. Controlled Fluidics can help design any fixtures that remain necessary to maintain accuracy and efficiency.

3. Better Finishes and Unmatched Precision 

Different varieties of 5-axis CNC machines feature different cutting capabilities in order to work with different materials. In every case, the ability to cut along five axes at once directly impacts the quality of the final product. These machines can work with any geometry and will create an end product with a precise, smooth, and durable finish.

Because of the 4th and 5th axes that rotate the piece, our team can position the cutting tool closer to the component. This means that shorter cutting tools can be used, which reduces vibration even at high speeds. This makes for an even more exact cut and smoother finish with no burrs or air pockets.  Tolerances to .0002 are successfully met. The resulting components will work under the most demanding and high-stakes conditions, from precision medical tools to military-grade technology.

Get a Quote for Your CNC Machined Part

If you need a complex plastic machined part or manifold for your project, a 5-axis CNC machine could be the right choice, but only if it’s operated by highly qualified experts. At Controlled Fluidics, our engineers and machinists work with 5-axis CNC machines frequently at our state-of-the-art facilities. We have workspaces in Milford, NH, and Wallingford, CT.

We have equipped both facilities with carefully maintained 3- and 5-axis machines so that we can serve more clients and produce at a higher rate. We provide comprehensive support for each project from beginning to end, including help with the design. Our experienced professionals test each prototype to see that each requirement is met.   

 We’re happy to discuss your project’s requirements and share some additional insights into how a 5-axis CNC machine will save you time, save you money, and deliver a superior result.