3+2 CNC Machine: a Definition

3+2 machining is a type of machining that actually works with a 5-axis machine. The name “3+2” comes from executing a 3-axis milling program using the 5-axis machine’s two rotational axes. Those axes are tilted and locked into place. Another way to remember is that 3 + 2 = 5, as in 3-axis, plus two cutting tools on a 5-axis machine. It’s sometimes also called “position 5-axis machining.”

Any kind of challenging project could be a great use case for 3+2 machining. With 3+2 machining, you can work on a piece from all sides. This allows you to cut down on costs and the cycle time for your machining workpieces.

3+2 CNC Machines vs. 5-Axis Machines

A 3+2 CNC machine is technically the same as a 5-axis CNC machine, but you can use rotary tables and tilt-rotary trunnions on a 3-axis machine for 3+2 machining. The number five of the “5-axis” machine refers to the directions you can cut in. Because you can use the 3-axis program and the two locked-in cutting blades, you don’t need to buy another specialized piece of equipment just to use 3+2 machining.

Often, the question comes up of whether to use traditional machining or 3+2 machining for a piece. Any part or piece that would use 5-axis simultaneous machining could potentially also be made with 3+2 machining. Tube machining is a great example of a workpiece that can be easily made with 3+2 CNC machining. You can also machine prototypes with this same method.

The Benefits of 3+2 CNC Machining

As stated earlier, using 3+2 CNC machining can help reduce costs and cycle times. If you’re just using a 3-axis machine without any rotary tables or trunnions, you’ll need to flip, turn or rotate the part to work on it from all sides. Every time you do this, you’ll need to stop the spindle of the machine. This can be a huge headache if you have to move a piece five, six or even seven times. 3+2 machining can help eliminate this problem.

Vertical machines usually only use three axes. However, you can still use 3+2 machining on an existing machine. The benefit to using a 5-axis machine is being able to process five sides of a workpiece at one time. All in all, 3+2 machining can have a hugely positive impact on your business by cutting down on time to machine a part of workpiece.

Should You Use 3+2 CNC Machines?

Should you bring 3+2 CNC machining to your business? If you work with complex workpieces that you would need to rotate and turn multiple times, then 3+2 machining could hugely benefit your business. The value proposition of a 5-axis machine allows you to use all five axes if you need to or simply opt for 3+2 machining. It’s a versatile CNC machine that can help with challenging work orders or workpieces at your business.

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