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What Is The Difference Between 3 Axis, 4 Axis, Or 5 Axis CNC Machining: Which One Is Best?

Engineers are familiar with the 3 Axis, 4 Axis, and 5 Axis CNC machines. These machines have different features that make them more or less desirable for a given application. In this blog post, we will explore some of these differences as well as which might be best for your specific needs.

In the world of CNC machining, there are many different types of machine tools. The type that you use will depend on what you want to do and the size of your budget. With this in mind, let’s take a look at 3 axes 4 axes 5 axes CNC machining – what’s the difference between various CNC machining?

And which is best for your needs? In this blog post, we will explore some of these differences as well as which might be best for your specific needs. Stay tuned to find out if you need a 3 axis, 4 axes, or 5 axis machine!

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What Is A CNC Machine?

CNC machining uses a computer virus to direct the cutting tools used. Machining has several techniques which will be controlled by a computer virus. All have in common a computer system, which provides them the name of CNC. Don’t confuse this free CNC software that translates the pictures into language the CNC machine can understand with the CNC machine itself.

The 2 systems believe one another to properly create the specified design. The CAM gives the instructions to the CNC, but the CNC system tells the machine what to try to use the code generated by the CAM from the planning.

After programming the part, the machines move the tools along multiple axes to urge the precise cuts needed. The power to automate the method removes some concerns about human error, though it still takes knowledge to settle on the proper tools to use with the machine to urge the simplest finish.

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The process includes the common milling and turning followed by discharge machining:


Milling is the use of rotating tools on the surface of the workpiece, moving along 3, 4, or 5 axes. CNC milling bits are essentially cutting or trimming the workpiece, which may quickly process complex geometric shapes and precision parts from metal or thermoplastics.


Turning is the use of a CNC lathe layout to manufacture parts containing cylindrical features. The workpiece rotates on the shaft and contacts the precision turning tool to make round edges, radial, and axial holes, grooves, and grooves.

Multi-Axis CNC Machining

CNC milling involves removing material using rotating tools. Either the workpiece remains stationary and therefore the tool moves onto the workpiece, or the workpiece enters the machine at a predetermined angle. The more moving axes of a machine, the more complicated the forming process and therefore the faster the speed.

3-Axis Machine

3-Axis milling is evolved from the practice of rotary filing and is a milling process that basically operates on two axes, the X & Y-axis. In three-axis machining, the workpiece remains still while the cutter moves along the three-axis to mill the part.

The X-axis moves left to right, the Y-axis moves from front to back, and therefore the Z-axis moves up and down. 3 axis CNC machining is often used for automatic/interactive operation, drilling holes, cutting sharp edges, and milling slots, and is widely utilized in the assembly of mechanical parts.

It is basically used to produce mechanical components and is suited for:

  • Automatic/interactive operation
  • Milling slots
  • Drilling holes
  • Cutting sharp edges

The geometrical shapes are called prismatic, basically rectilinear, as against more organic shapes. A 3-axis mill can make circular features but only on the X/Y plane. Still, the relative simplicity of motion is okay for several projects that don’t require complexity and instead enjoy maximum part throughput and process efficiency. It additionally allows room to style certain angled features. These features need to be angled to at least one X, Y, or Z-axis.

4 Axis CNC Router

4-axis milling involves an equivalent process involved in 3-axis machining, where a cutter is employed to get rid of material from a bit to make the specified shape and profile. It has a further rotary movement around the X-axis, which is known as the A axis.

This rotation allows the workpiece to be cut around the B axis. This method is useful when holes or cuts got to be made on the edges of a workpiece. It is more efficient as they will cut and rotate simultaneously, allowing complex parts just like the profile of cam lobes and helixes to be machined. The 4-axis machining offers much greater flexibility than 3-axis.

For instance, it’s ideal for drilling on the side of parts or on cylindrical surfaces – something that isn’t capable with a 3-axis CNC mill. During a single fixture setup, a 4-axis CNC router can work on four sides of a workpiece. 4-axis CNC routers are thus more accurate than 3-axis CNC machines. However, as there’s only one rotational axis per setup, you either got to angle all angled features around the same axis or use multiple fixtures.

5 Axis CNC Machine

5-axis machining basically involves all the axis of 4-axis machining, with a further rotational axis. It is the simplest CNC milling machine available today, capable of making precise and complex parts for artificial bones, aerospace products, titanium pieces, oil and gas machine parts, car molds, medical, architectural, and military products.

5 axis CNC machines can select two of the three rotational axes (A, B, C) to use. The A, B, and C axes perform a 180° rotation around the X, Y, and Z axes, correspondingly. This sort of machining is employed within the automobile, aerospace, and boating industries.

Application is usually favored for very complex components that are solid and would otherwise need to be cast. A 5-axis CNC machine offers even greater flexibility and efficiency than a 4-axis machine. Like in 3 and 4 axis machines, the spindle and cutter in 5 axis machines move along the X, Y, and Z-axis.

However, during a 5 axis CNC machine, there are rotations around two of the three-axis. The rotation around the X-axis is named the A-axis, the rotation around the Y-axis is that the B-axis, and therefore the rotation around the Z-axis is that the C-axis. 5 axis machines can use any two of the rotational axes at an equivalent time, counting on the machine’s configuration.

CNC is used in every industry and also for personal reasons and it creates beneficial across different manufacturing industries. All the advantages include all the product quality control. It is used to automate the cutting and all shaping of the contents. Different types of axes determine the type of movement of the CNC machine can perform:

Axes Movements

  • X-axis – left to right
  • Y-axis – front to back
  • Z-axis – up and down
  • A-axis – 180° rotation around the X-axis
  • B axis – 180° rotation around the Y-axis
  • C axis – 180° rotation around the Z-axis

Types Of CNC Machines

  • 3 Axis – X, Y, and Z axes
  • 4 Axis – X, Y, Z, and A axes
  • 5 Axis – X, Y, and Z axes and two out A, B, and C axes

What Should We Need To Keep In Mind Before Purchasing CNC Milling Machine?

When you are planning to shop for a CNC mill, What are the items that you simply got to believe and consider when you’re purchasing a machine like this? the amount one thing that you got to consider is your budget. you would like to define your budget before time and stay within your budget. Not only that, you would like to form sure that you simply allow everything, not just the value of the machine.

So we’d like to focus on things like not only buying the machine but getting the machine to the situation. We’re getting to use it at installing the machine, hooking up the machine. Then also many accessories that the machine is gonna need.

Tool holders work, holding coolant and possibly repairs for that machine. If you purchase a second-hand vertical machining center, you’ll get to do some extensive repairs thereon. It all depends on what quiet machine you’re gonna buy after our budget. We want to be ready to buy the simplest machine that we will get with our budget after we specify a machine.

If we will not find a machine that matches our budget, then maybe we’d like to recircle back and reevaluate either our budget or if the dimensions of the machine we specified may be a lot of a requirement. So what can we need to consider when specifying our machine?

The very first thing we’ve to think about is what quiet parts are we getting to make? How big are the parts? How many of them can we get to make? and the way fast can we got to make them? So let’s re-evaluate the machine and mention a number of the aspects for creating the parts within the machine.

When we’re trying to specify the machine. the primary thing that we’d like to seem at is our travel, primarily the X-axis and Y-axis are what most of the people are concerned about. Z-axis is additionally a priority because we’ve to form sure that we will machine as tall as our parts are, plus the length of our tooling.

Difference Between Various CNC Machining.

3 Axis VS 4 Axis CNC VS 5 Axis Machining
3 Axis VS 4 Axis CNC VS 5 Axis Machining
3 axis CNC machine moves up and down and sides to side.4 axis CNC router has one rotational axis.5 axis CNC machine has two rotational axes.
3 axis CNC machines are widely used for making mechanical parts, and they’re also used for a wide range of purposes by hobbyists.4 axis CNC mill can do this with the added benefit of being suitable for working with cylindrical surfaces and 3D objects.A 5 axis machine can carry out much more intricate and complex work.
3 axis CNC machines are the cheapest.4 axis CNC router is more expensive.5 axis machines on the other hand are mostly used in industrial settings and are much more expensive.
3 axis machines are the most basic with a spindle that moves up and down from side to side.4 axis machines add a rotating axis, offering greater efficiency and flexibility.5 axis CNC machines add a second rotating axis, offering the most accurate, efficient, and flexible machining.
In 3-Axis, usually, all the angle of the cutter remains uniform and it makes it harder to cut away parts of the material.In 4-axis, it is preferred to 3-axis CNC machining because it accelerates and improves the accuracy of the assembly process.5-axis CNC machining is used in several capacities to support this feature. It can perform milling, turning, etc. Therefore, you simply need one machine to figure on several parts.

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5500mW CNC Pro Engraving Machine

3 Axis Milling Machine With Offline Controller

Cenoz Upgrade CNC 3018 Pro GRBL Control DIY CNC Machine,3 Axis PCB PVC Milling Engraving Machine,Wood Router Engraver XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm (3018-PRO with extension rod)

 out of stock
as of 17/07/2024 09:40
  • An upgraded version of 3018 is the CNC 3018-PRO, which includes a 2-in-1 module and a 3000mW module.
  • It has an integrated Driver Chip, Fixed Heat Sink, External Fan, Sturdy Casing, self-contained short circuit protection.
  • Not easy to damage.
  • The 3018 Pro can accommodate most projects with a good engraving area of 300 x 180 x 45 mm.
  • For engraving, you can directly import pictures to laser GRBL, and you can protect your eyes from injury by using a pair of safety goggles.
  • The instruction in the manual is not provided correctly.

3018 GRBL Mophorn CNC Machine

GRBL Control Wood Engraving Machine
  • Frames and pinned parts are constructed of 2020 aluminum profiles and black injection molding material and possess an external dimension of 40x30x24cm (15.7″x11.8″x9.4).
  • The machine is easy to assemble, according to the instructions. Supports the Windows XP SP3, win7, win8, win10 (32/64), and Linux systems.
  • Simply connect to computers via a USB port and GRBL will be over.
  • A remote control without computers is also included, with an offline controller.
  • T8 screw rods driving units, three 42 stepper motors, and a 775 (12-36V)24V spindle motor with a rotational speed of 10000r/min are all added.
  • Soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, PCBs, and other types of plastics are all used to engrave.
  • The plane engraving is realized by utilizing aluminum profiles and black injection molding material, which possess a good appearance, great precision, and durability (11.8″x7.1″x1.8).
  • No cons found.

Genmitsu Plastic Acrylic GRBL CNC Control Kit

Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine
  • The Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO is an upgraded version of the 3018. All components do not need to be positioned, which greatly reduces the amount of assembly required and increases the amount that they can be used.
  • For greater stability, the base height is raised to 4 cm.
  • The Genmitsu can be employed on a broad range of projects and materials, capable of cutting all types of plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs.
  • There remains no need to customize G-code to ramp up to full speed for the drop in 20,000rpm Spindle, which is UL approved and out-of-the-box support.
  • The Genmitsu 3018-PRO is a high-performance open-source software for controlling movement that works on an Arduino.
  • Because GRBL is an industry-standard, there has no lack of support and resources available when you get stuck due to its dependability and simplicity.
  • No cons found.

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4 Axis LiFuJunDong 3D Milling Engraving Machine

Water-Cooling Router Engraving Machine
  • The working area is 600(Y), 390(X)120(Z)mm
  • The outside dimension is 865x680x570mm(LWH).
  • The table size is 770(Y)*490(X)mm.
  • It has High-intensity X, Y, and Z-axis.
  • The Chrome plate is high intense with 57 two-phase 3A 150N.cm stepping motor.
  • It is lubricated with high grease.
  • And the repeat accuracy is 0.05mm.
  • It can cool the spindle quickly and protect the machine.
  • It is a waterproof design, very durable, anti-dirt, oil spray Power by USB port.
  • No installation guide was there and it was really difficult to find the correct software.

CNCEST Drilling Engraving Machine

Metal Wood Carving Cutter
  • The spindle motor knob is useful for small positioning adjustment.
  • It can engrave much more materials by spiral flute bits, such as metal, steel, MDF board, solid wood, composite board plywood, stone.
  • It can be used widely for MDF board, native wood, PVC, Acrylic, wood, composite board plywood.
  • No cons found.

4 Axis 6090 Drilling Milling Machine

3D Driller Machine
  • The water cooling system can protect the engraving machine in the woodworking industry such as sculpture, round carving, wooden handicraft processing, and other industries such as advertising signs, logo making, cutting acrylic, plastic molding, aluminum cutting, and so on.
  • An air-cooled motor enjoys higher stability and concentricity than a manual transmission.
  • Can engrave the strong hardness or metal in high detail.
  • It can increase the machine’s efficiency and accuracy.
  • An air-cooled motor enjoys higher stability and concentricity than a manual transmission.
  • Can engrave the high hardness or metal in high detail.
  • It can increase the machine’s efficiency and accuracy.
  • The current 2.2KW water-cooled VFD has been in use for a long time, and it can be used to reinforce the machine’s processing ability and engrave on aluminum alloy and hardwood.
  • No cons found.

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Tested And Reviewed The Parts Of CNC Router 5 Axis


MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro Engraver Machine

PCB Milling Machine With Offline Controller
  • It is designed with an absolute beginner in mind.
  • Helps you to engrave the model with code and design.
  • It manually adjusts all the positions of the 3 Axes of XYZ and can open the spindle manually.
  • The offline board links the GRBL control board for carving without storing a computer.
  • When the offline board is connected to the computer, it is recognized as a USB mass storage device, and the engraving file can be accessed directly.
  • This engraving machine engraves plastic, wood, acrylic, PVC, PCB, wood, or the like material.

Mini Lathe Machine Tools

60W Mini Lathe Machine Tools
  • Lathe tool is made of high-speed steel material, which can machine soft metal, nonferrous metal, and precious metal.
  • Motor case and headstock are jointed.
  • The center height is 75mm and the distance between centers is 135mm, motor speed normally drops to 2000rpm when using the lathe to machine metal.
  • The maximum motor power is 60W by using a more powerful motor.
  • With 0.02mm accuracy of scale lines, the handwheel increases the precision of workpiece machining.
  • The main parts are Headstock, tailstock, long machine bed, big slider, small slider, motor blade, gear, connection block, belt cover, etc.
  • All of the parts are made of metal except the belt cover.

CNC Mill Costs:

The cost of a CNC mill is closely associated with its configuration. Although sometimes you’ll see that the CNC mill looks almost an equivalent, the implementation of the function is the same, but the worth difference is additionally very large consistent with different configurations.

  • Small CNC mill price range $10k-30k
  • Standard CNC mill price range $45K-70k
  • Large CNC mill price range $90-120k
  • 5-axis CNC mill price range $150K-300k

Applications Of 3-Axis CNC Router:

  • Milling Slots: Cutting slots into a bit maybe a common application of a three-axis machine. The slots could also be used for furniture pieces that will fit together or to accommodate other parts. Creating interlocking pieces starts with well-cut slots that precisely hold the parts intended for them.
  • Drilling: Drilling holes makes it easier for the longer-term assembly of multiple parts using screws.
  • Cutting Sharp Edges: Edging the fabric to angle it or cut sharp corners can quickly be through with a three-axis machine.
  • Creating Customized Parts: Experts can use a three-axis machine to develop necessary customized parts for many businesses. the requirements of the many small companies are readily met by the parts creation achieved on an easy , easy-to-use, three-axis machine.

Applications Of 4 Axis Machining:

  • Industrial Parts: Complex industrial parts that need intricate details or specific cutting may have the power to possess the machine cut during a fourth direction. These industrial parts often require custom creation because they’re proprietary to the businesses using them.
  • Prototypes: Many fields require prototype creation before investing the time and money to make the merchandise on a mass scale. Technology, architecture, industry, and other fields enjoy machined prototypes as a way of seeing a smaller-scale model of the specified product in three dimensions.
  • Education: Four-axis CNC machines may help educators teach others the fundamentals of using one among these devices without the expense of coaching on a five-axis unit. Additionally, these machines can make customized teaching supplies and demonstration models that can’t be purchased from a store.
  • Medical Equipment: Medical equipment designs require precision in their execution. that creates four- and five-axis machines a number of the foremost popular options when companies need specialized medical equipment.

Applications Of 5 Axis Milling Machine:

  • Medical Components: Medical parts and tools require a design that’s precise enough to make sure the weather used for surgery or replacement parts fits perfectly. Improper cuts or imperfect edges can render medical supplies unusable. This makes five-axis machining the well-liked thanks to creating customized medical tools and components.
  • Automotive Design: Modern vehicles are equal parts electronic and mechanical wonders. to make sure the right fit of mechanical parts, five-axis machines could also be used. Additionally, the smaller electrical housings and other parts may require the utilization of a higher-axis CNC machine.
  • Architectural Components: Architectural designs are essentially giant puzzles where the pieces must perfectly fit with one another. A little error during a cut on one component could put a building’s design thus far from its original intent that it doesn’t pass inspection. Door frames are one example of architectural pieces which will need five-axis machining to make.
  • Military-Grade Products: The military uses the simplest of everything to guard the country. And when it involves vehicles, weapons, and other products, consistency and precision are top requirements.
  • Aerospace Components: The precision needed by the aerospace industry for airplanes, rockets, satellites, and more can directly impact human lives. Poorly crafted parts on flying machines could prevent the systems from working together as they ought to, leading to manufacturing defects that would contribute to a crash.


CNCs, or computer numerical control machines, are the most advanced technology for cutting and shaping metal. The complexity of these machines can range from a 3-axis machine that can only move up and down and right to left to a 5 axis machine that has a full three-dimensional degree of freedom. Which is best for you? From this article you will understand completely the differences between 3 Axis, 4 Axis & 5 Axis CNC mills so you know what kind suits your needs.

GV Team
GV Team

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