If you’ve ever watched a 5 axis CNC machine in action, you know they can produce extraordinarily complex parts through their ability to cut and mill along five axes of motion. From crafting jet engine blades to creating prosthetics, these amazing machines have made significant contributions to various industries. 

Getting the most out of a 5-axis CNC machine requires knowing both what to do and what not to do when using this advanced technology. Taking full advantage of their capabilities is easier said than done if you aren’t well versed in its operation. 

In this article, we will provide the top dos and don’ts for maximizing the potential of your 5-axis machining center.

Dos of a 5 Axis CNC Machine

By following these practical tips, you can open up a world of new production possibilities with your 5-axis machine.


Want to get a good deal when buying a CNC machine? Don’t forget to check these following boxes:

a. Select the Machine Type

When shopping for a 5-axis CNC machine, one of the first things you need to check is the machine type. Are you looking for a horizontal or vertical machine? This choice depends on the types of parts you plan to manufacture.

Horizontal machines are better if you’ll be working with heavier parts. They are more rigid, which helps when cutting tough metals, like steel or titanium. They are good for reducing the weight of components with deep pockets or waffling. 

Vertical machines are a better fit for smaller parts. They are more agile to speed up the making of smaller components. Vertical units offer better operator access and can take heavier cuts too. 

b. Check the Software Bundle

When buying a 5-axis CNC, you need to ensure it comes with the right CAM and simulation software. Five-axis machining is complex and requires expertise for safe programming of tools. Some builders include this as standard while others charge extra. Don’t make the mistake of only budgeting for the machine because the programming software is just as important.

Key features to look for:

  • CAM software for designing toolpaths in 5 dimensions
  • Simulation to check for collisions before running jobs
  • 3D cutter compensation to simplify tool changes
  • Ability to simulate rotated and articulated movements

With the right CAM setup, collision avoidance is easier. Offline simulation lets you test programs without tying up the machine. In fact, proper software support makes 5-axis machining much more manageable.


Operating a 5 axis CNC machine takes skill and know-how to get the most accurate results, while making safety a priority. Here are some key dos to follow when working with this machine: 

a. Proper Workpiece Setup

The first step of operation is to mount the machine securely onto its designated spot. It needs to be clamped firmly, so it won’t move during the machining process. 

Make sure any fixtures, tools, or materials needed for a job are prepared and laid out near the CNC machine before starting. This helps reduce setup time between tasks. 

Have a dedicated prep area in your facilities to organize everything in one place. Being prepared means maximizing your efficiency on each cut.

And before starting cutting components with the machine, you should simulate the programmed toolpath. It lets you check for errors or crashes in advance, so you can machine the parts safely without surprises.

b. Understand Your Machine’s Components

Take the time to learn about the different mechanical parts that make up your 5 axis CNC. While linear drives offer smooth movement, they require more care than ball screws. 

Consider if your shop environment is suited for precision components before investing. Maximizing your machine’s lifespan starts with understanding its needs.

c. Monitor Speeds and Feeds

The right cutting parameters are critical for surface quality and tool life. Watch out for vibration from improper tooling balances or external disturbances. 

Use touch probes to find the optimal speeds and feeds for each material. Pay special attention to how the tool engages the material during a cut.

  • Watch for smooth cuts without chatter or bumps
  • Check for curling chips that indicate proper chip removal
  • Listen for changes in sound that could mean tool wear
  • Inspect parts regularly for dimensional accuracy

Careful monitoring at each stage of the machining process helps maximize quality and prevent unnecessary reworks. Constant adjustments will allow you to take full advantage of the 5 axis capabilities.

d. Manage the Spindle Heat

Keeping the cutting temperatures low is important. Use coolant through the tool or externally to wipe away heat and chips. Monitoring spindle temperature prevents overheating issues.

e. Always Supervise the Operation

Since these are automated machines, it’s normal to think of taking a break when running a task. But this poses the risks of missing potential issues. At least one person should monitor each machine during its operation. 

Accidents can occur if problems like crashes or mechanical failures aren’t addressed promptly. Your machines may be programmed, but human supervision helps catch small problems before they become big ones.


A five-axis CNC machine is a complex and precision piece of equipment. To get the best performance and longest life out of it, follow some maintenance routines. 

What you should do are:

Follow a Maintenance Schedule: Create a schedule that lists what maintenance tasks need to be done and how often. Things like cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting different parts all have their own timeline. Stick to the schedule to stay on top of the cleaning and repairing routine. 

Check Lubrication: Always use the lubricant recommended in the user manual. Double check whether your chosen one has the correct viscosity or thickness. Check lubricant levels regularly and refill as needed.

Inspect Components: Give your machine a thorough look over during maintenance. Check for any signs of wear on moving parts, tighten any loose fasteners, and monitor temperatures and noises. Early detection of small issues can prevent costly repairs later.

Consult the Manuals: Your machine manuals are a valuable resource. Refer to them for guidance on maintenance procedures, lubrication details, specifications and safety practices. Following manufacturer recommendations is key for optimum performance.

Don’ts of 5 Axis CNC Machine

There are some pitfalls to avoid when using your 5 axis CNC machining. These don’ts can help you get the most from your production.


When you purchase a 5 axis CNC, try not to make these mistakes:

a. Don’t Buy a Larger Machine

The size of the 5-axis CNC machine you buy should match the size of the parts you’ll be making. If your parts are small, around 3-6 inches, don’t get a machine with a big 24-inch rotary table. The big table means you’ll have to use really long tools to reach parts in the center when the table is tilted. 

Long tools can cause problems, like chatter and slower speeds. They may even interfere with other parts of the machine.

Potential issues with an oversized machine are:

  • You’ll need extra long tools that are harder to control
  • Long tools could vibrate more and cause poor finishes
  • Large machines have lower maximum speeds than smaller machines
  • Long flexible tools can interfere with other parts of the machine

Choose a machine size that fits your needs. If you’ll be making smaller parts, a medium sized machine with a 10-12 inches rotary table works better. 

b. Don’t Skimp on the Control System

The Machine Control Unit (MCU) is the control system of a 5 axis machine. It gives commands for axis motion and makes use of coded instructions. 

So, you shouldn’t buy a machine with an outdated or underpowered control system. Make sure to get one with enough processing power to handle your 5-axis programming and cutting needs now and in the future. 


Operating a 5-axis machine requires skill and experience. Here are some important things not to do when using one of these advanced machines.

a. Allow Trained Operators Only

CNC machines require training even if they appear simple to use. Untrained operators risk accidents or machine damage. Allow trained personnel only to operate the machines. 

Even experienced machinists need time to learn a new machine before using it for production. Do not instantly deploy new operators on an unfamiliar machine.

b. Control the Workshop Environment

Do not place CNC machines near heating or cooling sources, like an air conditioner blowing directly on them. Open gates or drainage areas can also disrupt machining with vibrations. 

Similarly, positioning machines above cable ducts is inadvisable. Maintain a stable temperature around 25 degrees Celsius with good air circulation to prevent issues caused by temperature fluctuations.

c. Don’t Overload the Machine

A CNC machine has limits to what it can handle. Overloading it by trying to machine materials that are too hard, cut too deep, or move the axes too fast can cause damage. 

Know the specs of your machine and material properties to choose appropriate feeds and speeds. Go slower rather than faster if you are unsure. 

d. Don’t Ignore the Safety Rules

You should always maintain some safety guidelines when operating the machine:

  • Wear proper safety gear, like safety glasses, anytime the machine is operating. Flying chips can cause eye injuries.
  • Don’t try to cut a material that the machine is not designed to cut. 
  • Don’t disable or bypass any safety features of the machine. They are there for good reasons.

Put safety first when operating a 5 axis CNC machine. Taking shortcuts can lead to injuries, damaged equipment, or scrapped parts.


If  you want to keep your 5-axis machines running well, you must follow some maintenance protocols. Here are some of the major don’ts to be aware of:

a. Don’t Use a Faulty Machine

If some issues arise, don’t keep using the machine or try repairing it yourself. Contact the manufacturer right away no matter how small the problem seems. A faulty machine risks further damage or injury.

b. Don’t Use the Wrong Lubricants

Check that any lubricants you use are approved by the maker. Cheap or incompatible lubricants can void warranties and require expensive repairs in future. Like a car, your CNC machine needs the right fluids to stay healthy.

c. Don’t Clean with Compressed Air

Blowing dirt and chips internally with an air gun is a no-no. It can force contaminants into sensitive areas, reducing function and safety over time. Areas like chucks, spindles, covers, and scales need gentle cleaning.


By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts covered here, you can optimize your 5 axis CNC machine to its full potential and complex parts manufacturing with precision and efficiency. Safe operation and proper maintenance of the machine will help you achieve top performance for as long as possible. With the right techniques, a 5-axis CNC can be one of the most versatile tools in your manufacturing facility.

Does your production need advanced 5-axis capabilities? Zintilon offers full-service 5-axis CNC machining. Contact us to discuss how we can manufacture your complex metal parts with the highest standards. 

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