Advanced Precision Machining

The changing face of the modern CNC machine shop; Five-axis machining

[ June 3rd, 2013] Your go-to Colorado CNC machine shop takes pride in delivering the latest in cutting-edge CNC milling, machining, and measurement technology. To this end, our recent acquisition of a Zeiss Metrology Spectrum II CMM puts us a step closer to full adherence with ISO standards. In addition, Advanced Precision Machining continues to operate the finest vertical and horizontal milling machines with the ability to mill along three, and even four different axes. As we continue to look to the future however, we see that the face of the modern CNC machine shop is changing, and we look forward to changing with it.

Not long ago, milling and machining operations took a giant leap forward in switching from manual milling to today's CNC driven technological marvels. As a result, the industry has seen a progression in the ability of a cutting spindle to machine a part around a growing number of axes. Three-axis machines (X,Y,Z) are now commonplace, and currently, APM's four-axis (X,Y,Z,Q) CNC milling machines allow for the workpiece itself to be rotated in conjunction with the spindle. Today, with recent software advances in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), the relative new technology surrounding five-axis machining is experiencing growth, and APM anticipates being a big part of it.

In simple terms, a five-axis machine mills parts around the traditional linear axes (X,Y,Z), but then also incorporates two rotary axes (A,B) which tilt the spindle with respect to the part. Used in conjunction with each other, a five-axis CNC milling machine has the ability to machine extremely complicated or even organic geometries. Born out of the aerospace industry, where parts must follow strict aerodynamic forms, a five-axis machine allows for five-sided machining of parts, and as a result, more complex parts can be manufactured. Accuracy is higher, setup time and workloads are reduced, surface finishes are improved, and most importantly, a shop's ability to fulfill future, more complex work orders is enhanced.

At our CNC machine shop in Longmont, the acquisition of a five-axis milling machine is at the top of our wish list. From, According to "Top Shops" benchmark data compiled by Modern Machine Shop, 24 percent of the highest-performing machine shops in the country use five-axis positioning. In the near future, APM hopes to add a five-axis machine to our growing inventory of CNC milling equipment in an effort to bring our customers the latest in CNC precision machine technology and service. From the Modern Machine Shop Blog, read what other CNC machine shop leaders are saying about the shift to five-axis machining.

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About the Author

Gerry Dillon is a co-founder, current owner and certified CNC machinist at Advanced Precision Machining (APM), a full-service machine shop located in Longmont, Colorado. Before making his home in the United States in 2000, Gerry was born and raised on the emerald isle of Ireland and took an interest in milling and machining from an early age, ranking #1 in the Irish National Apprenticeship Program. In 2005, he partnered with his friend and colleague, Kirk Tuesburg, currently APM’s machine shop manager, together launching what’s grown into a leading Colorado machine shop. Gerry brings over 30 years of machining experience to the shop floor, and is certified in all aspects of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing.


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