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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 axis 4 axis 5 axis 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!

If You are in hurry then check out these new machine axis products:

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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 that 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 that the use of a CNC lathe layout to manufacturing 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 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.

GV Reviews

Tested And Reviewed The Top 3 Axis Mill


Genmitsu 3 Axis CNC Router Machine

Engraving Machine

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 21/01/2022 03:41
  • The pre-assembled module of XYZ axis and wires dramatically reduces the effort of assembly, allowing you to start out carving your projects in less time.
  • New completely redesigned control box and drive system, beefy C-BEAM Frame, precision NEMA 23 stepper motors, High Power Spindle, and included adapter for a drop by Dewalt DWP611 upgrade.
  • The PROVerXL CNC platform is simply the start, if you’re trying to find a good larger machine get the upgrade kit available in 2 additional sizes 24”x 24”( 600 x 600mm), and up to 40” x 40” (1000 x 1000mm).
  • Equip your machine with an optional Rotary 4th Axis or High Powered Laser Modules with up to 15W of true power output. Evolve together with your CNC, upgrade as you go, or start big and obtain to creating MORE.
  • The Genmitsu PROVerXL 4030 CNC platform is simply the start, if you’re trying to find a good larger machine get the upgrade kit available in 2 additional sizes 600 x 600mm (24”x 24”), and up to 1000 x 1000mm (40” x 40”). Equip your machine with High Powered Laser Modules with up to 15W of true power output.
  • Compact and straightforward design that integrates easily to access buttons for boot, emergency stop, motor speed control, unlocking, and pausing your machine.
  • The ProverXL control box’s easy cable management provides an organized solution that creates cleanup easy.
  • The C-Beam Structure makes it easy to configure for larger size work areas with simple upgrade kits as future upgrades.
  • It’s ideal for an endless sort of cutting, drilling, and carving operations on various materials including wood, MDF, plastics, foams, vinyl, and aluminum.
  • Sainsmart has absolutely NO real technical support for this delicate and highly complex machine.

3 Axis Desktop Milling Engraver Machine

Engraving Machine
  • Mini CNC machine small size, lightweight, USB interface, GRBL control systems, great CNC router machine for beginners.
  • The CNC3018 PRO machine is extremely easy to put in, stable structure.
  • Can be engraved on plastic, wood, acrylic, PVC, PCB, wood, and therefore the like material.
  • Increase the facility button switch.
  • Support limit switch, toolsets, gear, cooling fan, and other functions.
  • The spindle supports 0-100% adjustable PWM power.
  • CNC 3018 PRO Mini CNC machine small size, lightweight, USB interface, GRBL control systems, great CNC router machine for beginners.
  • It is often engraved in plastic, wood, acrylic, PVC, PCB, wood, and therefore the like material. soft metal like copper and aluminum and other materials, but can’t carve hard metal, jade, or other very hard texture of the things.
  • If you modify the spindle to a module, then can also carve the kraft, wood, leather(wallet), bamboo, rubber.
  • The biggest problem with that’s it doesn’t include additional software.

Cenoz 3 Axis Milling Engraving Machine

Wood Router Engraver
  • All components of this 3018 pro CNC engraving machine do get to be positioned, which greatly reduces the time of assembly.
  • GRBL three-axis control panels are often used on Win XP/Win7/Win8/Linux systems, reduce more operational problems .can engrave on plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVC, and PCB.
  • Support offline controller, manually adjusts X, Y, Z-axis without connecting to the pc and download files, not barely a singular gift for your lover, family,friends, but also satisfy your desire to make handicrafts perfectly.
  • This kit is straightforward to assemble and requires that you simply have a CD-ROM which will read a little CD with the included software.
  • It also only comes with engraving bits, so ordered a few other bits for wood and other surfaces.
  • It even came with protective glasses for a laser, but in fact, no laser came with this particular kit.
  • The screw fed for the x-axis was binding up and needed tons of screwing around to urge it to run smoothly.
  • The extension chucks and therefore the bits aren’t included within the box.
  • During the assembly, 7mm long bolts were included rather than 10mm to connect the rock bottom plate.

GV Reviews

Tested And Reviewed The Top 4 Axis Desktop CNC


LiFuJunDong 3D Water-Cooling Engraving Machines

Router Engraving Machine
  • This 6040T machine is suitable for industry, Technology Research, Advertising Design, Arts Creation, Teaching, Student projects, and Hobby Purposes.
  • It can work with various materials(metallic & non-metallic), like wood, or other plastic, MDF board, native wood, PVC, Acrylic, wood, composite board plywood. and soft metal, like aluminum, copper, and silver to engrave them into 3D/2D works, etc.
  • It can use for engraving: advertising signs, PCB, nameplates, badges, seals, bronzing plate, aluminum alloy, acrylic plates, ABS resin double color plate, PVC foaming board, indentation plates, signs, construction models, instrument panels, wooden products, etc.
  • The mini router Frame is movable. The machine can connect with the computer as another external device like printers, scanners.
  • It cannot directly connect with the availability voltage (AC110V).
  • The machine arrived in 3 main packages/assemblies like the bottom Assembly, The Gantry Assembly, The Controller Box, and accessories including the 4th axis. The CNC machine may be a pretty solid machine. Very strong, well made with large Ball Screws.
  • Quality of product is best than expected.
  • There were no instructions or software included.

VEVOR USB Engraving CNC Router Kit

USB Engraving CNC Router Kit
  • On the idea of a three-axis engraving machine, it’s equipped with a fourth rotation axis, ready to realize 3D stereo engraving, whose effective working travel is 395(X)x600(Y)x70(Z)mm.
  • With 2 chrome plate hard shafts (X-axis: Dia.16mm; Z-axis: Dia.13mm) and one aluminum support optical axis shaft (Y-axis: Dia. 20mm) as sliding units and 1605 ball screws as its driving units.
  • It has the feature of high precision, low noise, and high efficiency.
  • The engraving miller comes with a controller with a built-in well-made transformer, which provides stable power for the control unit for while continuous use, featuring a one-to-one interface design and an emergency stop button for top safety.
  • Equipped with a 57 two-phase stepper motor(3A) on each of the three-axis for straightforward movement, which is reliably connected by external couplings for top torque transfer.
  • The 800W fresh water-cooled spindle motor on Z-axis is in a position to succeed in the speeds of 24000 rpm/min(frequency converter speed regulation).
  • No cons found.

DONNGYZ 4 Axis USB Port Engraver

Desktop Wood Milling Machine
  • The engraving process is visible as controlled by a computer, simple operation, and installation. More steady and powerful equipped with aluminum alloy frame materials can control the engraving more precisely.
  • Large 3D engraving in softwood, MDF board, native wood, PVC, Acrylic we propose use one or two spiral flute ball bits. Can engraving far more materials by spiral flute bits, such as metal, steel, MDF board, solid wood, composite board plywood, stone.
  • The spindle motor knob is beneficial for little positioning adjustment, with a steady and powerful support structure. The emergency stop button enhances security.
  • Cover plates reducing pollution for the screws and shafts.
  • The reinforced and thickened machine body makes transportation absolutely to be a safer and longer lifetime.
  • The chrome shafts aren’t easy to deform, suitable for while use. The flexible coupling is often used for top torque transmission.
  • High Precision stepper makes engraving more precise.
  • No cons found.

GV Reviews

Tested And Reviewed The Parts Of CNC Router 5 Axis


5 Axis CNC Controller Pendant Motion Control

Manual CNC Controller
  • Can read and run G-CODE from U-disk, can replace for GRBL.
  • Can offline control. you’ll operate without a computer.
  • It has 8 ports photoelectric isolated input interface.
  • It has 5 ports photoelectric isolated output interface.
  • Support standard is MPG and NVMPG.
  • Can support 5 axis stepper systems, 125 kHz pulse output for each axis.
  • Supports the driving force with a common anode connection, but doesn’t support the driving force with a common cathode connection.
  • This is a 5 Axis DSP Manual CNC Controller system. It can read and run G-CODE from U-disk.
  • These controllers are often applied to engraving machines, CNC machines, and automatic assembly lines.
  • The manual control Pendant overall size is 168mm*108mm*30mm.
  • It doesn’t work with TB6600 MKS common cathode.

Teyleten Interface Board With Optical Coupler

CNC Breakout Board
  • The module supports high-level triggers, low-level triggers, switch control, PWM control.
  • It adopts imported dual MOS parallel active output, low internal resistance, strong current, and powerful power.
  • The continuous current is 10A, 600W at temperature, which is suitable for many types of equipment.
  • Easy to regulate high power equipment.
  • The Working voltage is DC 4V – 60V, and therefore the working temperature is -40- + 85 ° C; Size: 3.4 * 1.7 * 1.2cm (LWH).
  • The high-Level trigger voltage range is DC3.0V-24V, the trigger signal is at 3.0V-24V, and therefore the MOS transistor is turned on.
  • Less than 0.6V, that is, 0V-0.6V, the MOS tube is turned off.
  • The signal voltage can’t be 0.6V-3.0V, because the MOS tube isn’t fully open, the high power output will burn MOS.
  • Low-Level trigger voltage range: DC 0V-0.6V, the trigger signal is at 0V-0.6V, and therefore the MOS tube is turned on.
  • 12v didn’t connect to the input option isolator.
  • The PWM voltage out doesn’t work.

Mach3 Stepper Motor Controller Board

Motor Controller Board
  • The output and input numbers are processed by a special high-speed chip, the signal is corrected, amplified, and unnecessary interference signals are removed, in order that the entire machine runs more stably.
  • The LPT port power supply of the pc is isolated from the facility supply of other parts, in order that the pc and therefore the machine is often effectively isolated. This further ensures safety and stability. Make computer and machining data safer.
  • There are 5 input signals communicating with the host computer, all of which are isolated by an optical diaphragm. P11 and P12 ports are high-speed diaphragm isolation, which may be wont to connect the spindle code disc or the handwheel A, B are equally demanding signals.
  • A total of 12 output signals are available. Supports up to 6-axis linkage control output. it’s also possible to pick just one or several of those axes to regulate. A number of these 12 outputs are functionally multiplexed. When used, an output port can only be used as a function.
  • There are 3 relays that will support MACH3 software programming control.
  • By controlling the MACH3 software, you’ll control the on and off of anybody’s relay. Each relay features a pull-in indicator, which is more intuitive and convenient to use.
  • These three relays are often wont to control the opening and shutting of liquid coolant, fog coolant, gas-liquid coolant, etc. It also can be wont to control the facility switch off devices like solenoid valves.
  • It can output PWM signal within 2.5KHZ, and therefore the output port is parallel interface P1.
  • It can output a 0-10V level to regulate some inverters with analog control speed on the market to regulate the spindle speed.
  • No cons found.

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 that 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.

Asif Mondal

Asif Mondal

I am an avid CNC lover and have been a professional for 6 years. I enjoy carrying out the various projects in my backyard, testing all of the latest machines released to do so, and using them to reach others who are interested in sharing their knowledge with me through blog posts like this one! Now that I'm settled down in India working at GeekyViews as part of its editorial team for a few times, when not writing about it on here or taking day trips around the beaches and mountains which helps to boost creativity! You can also find me hiking along trails looking up at soaring eagles or swimming alongside local marine mammals such as dolphins--as well as enjoying fresh-baked artisan bread from nearby bakeries-and more!

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