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Comparing 3D and Multiaxis Cutting Strategies in Mastercam 3/5

Comparing 3D and Multiaxis Cutting Strategies in Mastercam

There are different machining techniques and strategies to achieve the desired part. Two common methods are 3D machining and multi-axis machining, let’s compare each approach on a curved surface. 


3D machining is often preferred in scenarios where simplicity and quick results are key. For instance, if you have a part that requires simple contours and shapes to be cut out, 3D machining is an effective choice. By utilizing basic tool paths, like the flowline toolpath, you can easily cut around the desired areas and achieve a clean surface finish. In this case, a standard 3-axis machine is sufficient for the job.  


However, if you have a 5-axis machine and want to optimize cycle time and improve efficiency, multi-axis machining is the way to go. Let’s dive deeper into the advantages it brings. 

Increased Step Over

Multi-axis machining allows for larger step overs, which refers to the distance the tool moves sideways between each pass. This means that you can cover more surface area with each pass and reduce the overall cutting time. By using a zigzag tool path pattern and adjusting the step over to a larger value, you can maintain a clean surface finish while achieving faster production rates.  

Maintaining Tool Orientation

Another benefit of multi-axis machining is the ability to keep the tool perpendicular to the surface being machined. This is particularly useful when using a ball nose end mill. By keeping the tool at the right angle, you can ensure that the bottom part of the tool is in constant contact with the surface, resulting in precise cutting and improved surface finish.  

Combining Flowline and Multi-Axis Machining

To illustrate the difference between 3D and multi-axis machining, let’s consider a flowline toolpath example. With a 3-axis machine, the tool moves back and forth along the part, cutting it accurately and effectively. However, with a 5-axis machine and the same flowline toolpath, you can optimize the step over and achieve the same surface finish in less time. This demonstrates how multi-axis machining can significantly improve cycle time and productivity. 


The choice between 3D and multi-axis machining depends on your specific needs and the machine capabilities available to you. If you require simplicity and quick results, 3D machining is a reliable option. However, if you have access to a 5-axis machine and want to enhance efficiency, multi-axis machining is the way to go. By utilizing larger step overs and maintaining tool orientation, you can achieve the same level of precision and surface finish while reducing production time. So, next time you’re planning a machining operation, consider the pros and cons of each technique and make an informed decision.  

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