The Multiaxis State of Mind: Review (Part 6 of 6)

The Multiaxis State of Mind
Part 6: Review

When the first NC machines came out, they had no memory. The guys who were very skilled with manual machines said that they could do things way quicker on their manual machines because they were that skilled. Today, you cannot compete unless you have CNC equipment. And it is getting to the point that you can’t compete unless you have some kind of multiaxis capabilities.


The emerging predominance of multiaxis can be viewed either as a problem or an opportunity. The only winning course of action is to view it as an opportunity and get into a Multiaxis State of Mind. This involves:

  • Understand the advantages: Eliminating setups, improving accuracy, improving cycles, using manpower more effectively and opening doors to new manufacturing business growth opportunities.
  • Get the right equipment: Head/head, table/table and head/table machines are each good choices for specific cutting applications. Do your homework to discover what equipment is the best fit for current jobs and future opportunities. You don’t always have to pay top dollar for the most sophisticated systems. However, you should keep in mind that you always get what you pay for.
  • Get the other “right stuff” you will need to be successful: The machine you choose is important, but it is not the last word in whether or not you will be successful in advancing your multiaxis capabilities. A capable CAD/CAM system, good post processor, the smart tool choices, and multiaxis workforce development (especially training), are also important.
  • Inculcate creative programming skills: Programmers should learn to program in space-the machine’s sweet spot-and then develop work-holding solutions relying on simulation to visualize the end result and assure safe operation.
  • Develop a talented and cohesive multi-axis programming workforce. Make multiaxis training available to proficient 3-axis programmers and encourage the programming staff to share knowledge with each other. Programmers should also stay on top of the CAD/CAM improvements that will help them become even more productive.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Five hundred years later, this is still a great point of view to adopt, especially for any shop looking to advance its multiaxis machining competitiveness.