At a high level, the overarching concept of CNC work is pretty simple – a cutting tool moves along a preset path communicated via computer to create a part, product, or prototype. This computerized methodology provides shop owners numerous benefits, from mid-to large-scale production to achieving exceptional precision on highly complex projects.
As simple as the general concept seems, how this work can be accomplished are a bit more intricate.
Among the most prevalent variations inherent in CNC work is the number of axes a router operates to cut away from a workpiece. There are three primary options regarding the number of axes a CNC router utilizes – 3, 4, or 5.
Here’s a closer look at each of these and why a 4-axis CNC router may be the best choice for your particular application.
3-axis CNC router
The most basic form of CNC router has three axes and can move and cut along each simultaneously.
The X-axis moves from left to right.
Y-axis moves from front to back.
Z-axis moves up and down.
The 3-axis CNC router is standard and typically cut flat, two-dimensional parts.
4-axis CNC router
The 4-axis router has all the same axes as a 3-axis router plus the additional A-axis that rotates the spindle around the X-axis up to 180 degrees during the cutting process.
This rotational axis allows cuts on multiple sides of the workpiece without resetting, while a 3-axis router can only perform cuts to one side of the same piece at a time. 4-axis CNC routers are the preferred method for advanced, intricate cuts and carvings like those often seen in furniture, musical instruments, cabinetry, and more.
5-axis CNC router
The 5-axis router also shares the same three core axes (X, Y, and Z) but has two additional rotational axes – the A-axis, which rotates around the X-axis and the B-axis, which revolves around the Y-axis. This dual-rotary feature allows for cutting along five edges of material simultaneously.
As such, 5-axis CNC routers are often used to cut large, three-dimensional parts in the auto, aerospace, and watercraft industries, to name a few.
While the fifth axis does provide some added versatility and efficiency, the longer X-axis and increased gantry height of these machines can often result in decreased stability and precision compared to 4-axis routers.
In this video, RouterBob breaks down many vital benefits of the 4th axis and walks us through the end-to-end production of a detailed, high-quality furniture leg.
Experience the 4th-axis advantage with HUAHUA
HUAHUA manufactures industry-best CNC machines to deliver precision, efficiency, and total versatility – and all of our routers have 4th-axis simultaneous capabilities. This allows for more design creativity, increased efficiency, and accuracy to help aspiring hobbyists and full-time commercial shop owners produce outstanding results with a fraction of the labour.
Shop our HUAHUA unmatched collection of 4-axis CNC routers, or get a quote today to take your shop’s quality and productivity to the next level.