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How to Achieve a Better Surface Finish with 5-axis Machining

5-axis machines offer many benefits including enhanced precision, increased part complexity, higher productivity, and more design flexibility. A better surface finish is a key benefit of using 5-axis machining that is often understated. You may be wondering - why is surface finish so important? For many applications, a part’s surface finish can have a big impact on mechanical performance and longevity. Surfaces that are rougher create more friction than smooth surfaces and tend to wear more quickly. Additionally, the roughness of a surface is directly related to reliability since surface irregularities are often where corrosion or breaks are initiated.

Critical parts like impellers, blades, gear housings, and valve bodies must operate reliably, leaving little room for error. These parts require smooth, consistent movement for the lifetime of the part. To achieve the necessary part performance and longevity, it is critical that OEMs partner with a proven machine shop, like Stanley Machining, that utilizes advanced technologies, such as 5-axis machining, to deliver high-quality, complex parts with better surface finishes.

How to Achieve a Better Surface Finish with 5-axis Machining

Traditional CNC machines are able to move along 3 axes: the X-, Y- , and Z-axes at the same time. 5-axis machines are able to operate along these 3 axes as well as 2 additional rotational axes, A- and B-, for a total of 5-axes working simultaneously. In general, the more axes a CNC machine can operate on, the more intricate geometries it can fabricate. Thus, 5-axis CNC machining has a huge advantage over traditional CNC machines and is able to manufacture complex parts that may not be possible with conventional CNC machines. So how does a 5-axis CNC machine actually achieve a better surface finish?

A better surface finish starts with a simplified setup. Simply put, the workpiece can be completed by only clamping into a 5-axis machine one time. This is a huge shift from traditional CNC machining that requires multiple setups in order to rotate the part orientation to perform the desired cutting and machining steps. Each time the part is removed and reinserted into a new position, there is an opportunity for misalignments and errors. 5-axis machining requires a single setup since it is able to work on every surface of the part at once. A simplified setup leads to more precise manufacturing and increased reproducibility compared to traditional 2 or 3-axis machines – resulting in faster machining and higher quality products including a better surface finish.

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Due to the rotational axes, A- and B-, 5-axis machines are able to bring the part closer to the cutting tools. This enables the use of shorter cutting tools, which is key to creating a better surface finish. Shorter cutting tools are less likely to vibrate while operating, which is especially important at higher cutting speeds. Shorter cutting tools with less vibration also results in less tool deflection and runout – all of which contribute to a smoother and better surface finish on the final part. For these reasons, 5-axis machines typically achieve a higher-quality finish compared to parts fabricated with traditional CNC machines.

About Stanley Machining

Stanley Machining offers a wide array of machining centers to meet our customer needs. For more intricate parts, our 5-axis machines paired with our CAM systems allow us to machine even the most complicated geometries. Stanley's wide range of equipment produces the most high-quality and close tolerance cutting edge components, including non-symmetric work pieces. Our size and breadth allow us to offer a wide range of capabilities from small to large format production components.

Since 1966 Stanley Machining has been proudly providing unsurpassed, multi-industry contract manufacturing solutions to world renowned OEM's and government entities. As a global leader in precision CNC machining, we continue to provide unsurpassed expertise and value as a true partner with our customers. OEMs rely on our superior expertise and machining processes to enable them to maintain a competitive edge. We serve commercial and industrial sectors across a range of markets including defense, power, aerospace, and oil & gas.

We take pride in our quality assurance program and we are ISO 9001:2015 certified. We continuously re-invest in state-of-the-art equipment and highest caliber quality professionals. Stanley is a women-owned small business with over 125 employees and 200 pieces of CNC equipment under 400,000 sq. ft. in two locations.

Contact us today to see how we can help with your next machining project, or give us a call at 847-426-4560.

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