Many machine shops may avoid taking on intricate aerospace machining work because they have already made investments in four-axis machining centers, and aerospace work mostly requires five-axis capability. “Aircraft structural and turbo machinery components very often have surfaces that are not aligned with any of the four axes,” says project manager Nick Westermeyer of Makino. In addition, frequently the volume of available aerospace work does not warrant an investment in a dedicated five-axis machine.
Westermeyer adds, “Manufacturers would benefit from being able to incrementally add fifth-axis capability to a four-axis machine, and then easily remove it when they only require four-axis machining, saving hours and enhancing cycle time. You do not have to set the fixture more than twice under normal circumstances. The fifth axis would give them the ability to machine some geometries that are not possible with four-axis machining. In addition, they would frequently be able to machine a part in fewer setups with five-axis capability instead of four. The ability to incrementally remove the separate fifth axis ensures the equipment will still be able to machine all of the current four-axis parts.”
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