The Cerebral Forum

CNC Projects => Misc CNC Stuff => Topic started by: gocnc on September 30, 2009, 01:37:27 PM

Title: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on September 30, 2009, 01:37:27 PM

Is it realistic to think about 5 axis milling for people like us.
When I say like us I mean those people that arent engineers or programer
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: travis77 on September 30, 2009, 02:21:35 PM
Not really. Unless you want to drop some $$, you arent going to get the results with a budget DIY machine. Not to mention, there's not much help/info around for 5 axis software or hardware for the average garage builder. DIY people do venture into 4 axis stuff, which is do-able. I have no idea what CAM software they use though.

What are you trying to make with a 5 axis machine anyway?
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: Gabriel on September 30, 2009, 03:09:53 PM
Right, the CAM software alone would probably be pretty expensive. I think MeshCam will do 4-axis stuff. I believe it's around $150, which isn't too terrible.

I haven't looked into it too much myself, but one program which I know does 5-axis is MasterCam. It comes in different versions, but the one I was looking at was well over $10,000.

You can still do a lot with a 3-axis machine though. You just have to be clever about it. Although, keep in mind that complex 3D parts take many many hours to cut out. That's tough work for a DIY CNC machine. It depends on the size of the part though. If it is a reasonable size, you should be fine, but, if you want to do something that is large, it's going to take awhile.

The material you're cutting also makes a difference. If you are cutting foam, then you won't need much in the way of roughing passes. This greatly decreases the amount of time it takes to cut out the part.

So, I guess that there are many variables to look into.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on September 30, 2009, 04:44:55 PM
I went on youtube for 4axis cnc milling
I liked what I saw for now I have given up trying to do something with 5 axis
but how about 4 axis
 I will spend some time on this site MeshCam
Can anyone give me more info on 4 axis
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: travis77 on September 30, 2009, 05:46:25 PM
Ill try to find some more 4 axis info that I have seen before.

But I do remember seeing this free multi-axis CAM software: ( and a linked site from there you may find interesting: (

More info on this software read under the essentials tab: (    In order to use CNC Toolkit, you need to be using GMax which is explained on the website.

Also search "4 axis" over on (, there's lots of info there.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on September 30, 2009, 06:22:45 PM
Hi Travis
Thanks for those links and also for the links you posted yesterdays about buying the nuts and the bolts of a simple 3 axis cnc mill
I will am comparing prices and products and when I have any results I will share it with you guys.

Back to the 4 axis milling  I did some googling and I am still not clear as to exact concept
I must admit I didnt do enough research and I am short of time.
The main question that i have is that how does the Cad file get convert by the CAM program.
Is there programing involved and also what is the 4th axis called I figured maybe something like w
I would like to read a simple tutorial on the subject of 4 axis cnc milling
I spend a lot of time in this web site I like going there now and then

In google I entered these words but did not come up with any good links
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: pie_row on September 30, 2009, 08:01:02 PM (

I think that 5 axis has a bad rap.  The commercially built ones were built for high end users that had big bucks.  If the software is really as cheap as it looks then it should be not that hard to do.  I'd like to CNC port cylinder heads.  That takes a 5 axis mill.  The hobby stuff on those links,  Mach3 if it really works someone needs to start making and selling a 5 axis Sherline mill. (

OK I'm Off of my soap box.

Edit= added 5-Axis CNC Mill @ Hogeschool Antwerpen (
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: pie_row on September 30, 2009, 08:41:16 PM
A bit more thinking,

Someone needs to make a really cheap but functional 5 axis mill.  A hunk of junk.  Definitely VHS not Beta.  That would brake the 5 axis stereotype.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: travis77 on September 30, 2009, 10:44:20 PM
Gocnc, the 4th axis is called the "A" axis. Im working on trying to dig up some homemade 4th axis stuff on google. It was harder than I imagined.

Someone needs to make a really cheap but functional 5 axis mill.

If there was a cheap and easy way to do 5-axis stuff, then everyone wouldn't be messing around with basic 3 axis stuff. Not to mention most controller boards are for 3 motors, some 4. So going to 5 axis would require a 5 motor board. Which Id assume would cost more since they aren't easily available in the DIY crowd. You could make your own cheap version probably.

Sherline mills and lathes are cool. More than I'd want to spend on one. If I was going to seriously buy a lathe or mill, I'd go full scale and buy used. You'd eventually want to make a bigger part, and your mini lathe and mill that you just spent a decent amount of cash on would restrict you.

CNC porting would be difficult I would imagine. That means you would have to 3D model the port in CAD software in order to turn it into code to be ran on the 5 axis. Also you'd have to take into consideration the limitations of the 5 axis. You could easily design a port in CAD that the machine physically couldn't mill out. Then also take into consideration that milling hard metals is nothing a MDF 5 axis garage CNC would ever be able to do.. There's a reason these giant precision machines that companies use cost so much.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on October 01, 2009, 07:31:28 AM
Hi Folks
Thanks for your help
Here is someone selling a 4 axis cnc mill and the price is about 5,000 dollars. (

It uses this cam program (

I guess you make your design with your CAD program and this CAM program will give you the G code and I am not sure about this but there is an M code also for the A axis

Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: pie_row on October 01, 2009, 11:20:22 AM

I know someone that is fully capable of designing a 5 axis controller.

Have you heard of lost foam casting? ( This is a really easy way to make cast Aluminum parts.  Cats iron is a bit harder.  Concrete filled square mild steel tubes with welded construction.  Heavy solid stiff.  Home brew linear bearings. ( ( These two pages show how to make one person's idea of a cheap HBLB.  For the ways I'm looking at cold rolled mild steel key stock.  One inch square.  For the rollers, cam followers.  They are cheap at junk yards.  Roller cam followers.

The question is why isn't everyone doing 5 axis stuff?

The programing.  Mach3 plus what else do you need to support it?

Converting a big mill ya that's a good way to go.

You should be able to build a CNC milling machine with a CNC router.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: pie_row on October 01, 2009, 06:10:31 PM (

This link chronicles the build of a DYI CNC bench mill.

With this kind of construction, but with less expensive components, it should be possible to make a really good quality CNC for cheap.  And it should be up too doing cast iron.

For cylinder head work.  The head is held at the ends and allowed to be rotated around its long axis.  There is a slide that allows the port that is being worked on to be at the center of rotation for another axis.  Then there is an XYZ arrangement a 6 axis mill. 

How you do the ports is first by hand then you scan it in then you work out the tool paths. PITN
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: travis77 on October 01, 2009, 11:26:27 PM
Yep I've heard of lost foam casting, and have seen that guy's website "Build your Idea" very cool stuff over there.

The link to that bench mill build is very amazing. He build it using his lathe and mill though... Which i dont have. But the tolerances on that machine build are awesome. He spent a lot of time building and designing that one. He actually did use pretty standard DIY components for linear rails and guides as well as leadscrews, nuts, and aluminum t-slot. If you are wanting to build a solid, small, accurate machine, you really cannot go any cheaper than what components he used.

If you like the one you linked me to, check out this one. Its in another language so i used google to translate it. (
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on October 02, 2009, 06:39:13 AM
Hi Travis
Thanks for that link
I like the way he explains things step by step.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on October 02, 2009, 07:47:36 AM
The parts like the extruded aluminum can be purchased at local door and window makers
How much of all those parts can be found ready to use
I am talking about the project on the devil master site
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: pie_row on October 02, 2009, 12:11:09 PM

What I'm looking at is cold rolled mild steel key stock for the linear bearings.  I have heard but not read that stuff is denominationally accurate.  For cold rolled stuff it is as good as it gets and as cheap as it gets.

 (Cool sight.)

Your CNC router is probably good enough to make a CNC mill that is good enough to make his mill with.  Have you read about Gingery lathes?  I've misplaced the link but you can use engine blocks (cast iron) to make machine tools with.  Very ridged foundations.  He was getting +0.0001? -0.0003? hand grinding on his lathe.  When I get a computer to play with (I need Google sketch up) I'll draw up and post my mill that I see in my head.


What makes the 5 Bears dude the man is the accuracy with witch he put the stuff together.  He milled everything flat and square.  The work he put into his mill was and is just amazing.  He had his Z axis unwind.  Screw jacks are supposed to not do that.  That little mill is just....  I'm out of words.  But a High-Q 5 axis mill is definitely doable from the construction point of view.  The question I have is how much can I put together a soft wear package that will function for?  I will be doing some research in a bit on this one but if someone has already looked at it and would like to share?  :)  I don't currently know enough about soft wear to be able to say much of anything on the subject.  I'm going to be changing that.

Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on October 02, 2009, 12:28:03 PM
Hi Pie_row
I have just started expeiment with the software end of things for these things.
I have Rhino and I just installed cadbam which is free
Rhino is about 1,000 dollars
For starters you can can a 2d program thats free and play around with that and then write the g code with cadbam
Now I have to take care of the problem of ubuntt and emc2
This is also free but I dont know everything about that.
For example I want to install ubuntu without removing my windows i dont know if I can do that.

As for this design it looks good rendered but now that I look at it with cadbam i think there are lots of fault and cadbam is not going to be able to write the gcode unless i fix that so I am going to make something simpler like my initialls (

I will go on the cadbam forum to try to get some info about using thei software
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: travis77 on October 02, 2009, 03:18:08 PM
homemade... here's your inspiration.

Homemade 5-axis machine run by EMC2 (

Here's another.


And this one is just wow.. intense.

Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: pie_row on October 05, 2009, 11:59:05 AM
Cool stuff (  8 axis free controler soft wear.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on October 11, 2009, 03:05:31 PM
Thanks to pie-row i found this link
It is about making a 5 axis cncn milling machine.
I am wondering whether if I buy this book I would be able to make such a machine. (
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: Jon on October 11, 2009, 03:58:41 PM
You can save money if you just make a 3-axis machine (1 for left/right - X , 1 for up/down - Y , 1 for depth of cut - Z), or get a kit someplace, if your just doing 3-axis stuff like lettering.  I know, I originally said 2-axis, but I was thinking too far out of the box.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: gocnc on October 11, 2009, 06:24:48 PM
Hi Jon
Thanks for your help
Can you explain this a bit more so that i canunderstand you better
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: Jon on October 11, 2009, 11:53:03 PM
To me at least, an Axis here for CNC basically means a direction or dimension of travel.  For example:

A single (1) axis system is basically where something, like the CNC cutting tool, can move left or right in a straight line, we can name this the X axis, X dimension or horizontal dimension.  

Another way (2) to move the tool is in the up and down direction in a straight line (this is perpendicular or 90 degrees right angle from the horizontal dimension), we can name this the Y axis, Y dimension or vertical dimension.

And then there is another third (3) dimension that the tool can cut, and it is the Z axis or depth dimension, or Z dimension.

The computer will take the drawings and convert to them to a CNC code to run the stepper motors. (thats what I know from this site, since I do not have a CNC machine).

I seen some photos of CNC kits or machines for sale, already made if someone cannot get the materials or have the skill to make one.  I dont have the link, but the one I seen had some small stepper motors that you find anyplace, unless they come with the kit.

This looks like a nice article about CNC to take a good look at: (
I found a link for some small metal milling machines: (

SOME LINKS: (     check out Camtronics with the 3d possibilities
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: Jon on October 12, 2009, 12:27:14 AM
Does anyone know the answer to this question.  I heard of router machines that can follow a 3d pattern or mold already shaped, and maby called a "shaper milling/cnc machine" or something.  

I'm now thinking of, is there a machine/computer or crude method to scan a 3d object (without a laser system), even if it's just with a fine pointing tool that touches the object in various places all over it, the more points (X,Y,Z) taken, the better the milling/routing will be I guess ?  Has anyone thought or experimented with this, or any machines or links available about this since it seems to be something in the melt of the CNC community.  Maby it's called some kind of "3D tracing machine"?

... I imagine a machine can be contructed and each points coordinates (X,Y,Z) numbers, of the pattern/mold, are read off a mechanical counter.  These numbers can then put entered into a computer to run the stepper motors of the milling/cnc machine.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: Gabriel on October 12, 2009, 11:03:12 AM
Hey Jon,

There is a device called a touch probe that can be attached to a CNC machine and will do what you are thinking. I've never used one, but here is a link to a DIY version. (
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: Jon on October 12, 2009, 12:34:58 PM
Ok, thanks, I was just reviewing the link I posted above to a general discussion of CAD-CNC routing stuff, and it mentions and has a photo of what is known as a "digitizing probe".  I didn't fully read the article in the link I posted, and just noticed your link today.  A further link was also given about a

Digitizing Probe : (  

I'll take a look at the link you just posted:  Ok, It does look nice and interesting.  There, it seems the points of the object are scanned in automatically with a homemade probe an then a  program will increment/move  the sensor/probe very finely as comparred to doing it by hand which is a really good method.

Though in the link I posted above, using a bitmap image/photo can be used for some carving if that image is tweaked/adjusted a bit.  I'd like to say then that it is probaby good to have a computer (image) scanner to get an image if you dont have a camera.  It is then possible to atleast carve something like a flat piece of wood and have a "comparable" resulting image/facsimile.
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: travis77 on October 26, 2009, 03:55:00 PM
Geeks Gone Bad just finished up his DIY 4th axis. Check it out.. (
Title: Re: 5 axis cnc
Post by: BackyardWorkshop on August 22, 2012, 08:12:01 AM
Hey guys! Sorry to resurect this old thread but I'm trying to go around and fix bad links - I lost the website with the dash in it - so just posting up a valid link to the project above :) (