5-axis CNC Machining

Sparkman Industries has more than 45 years of experience manufacturing custom parts with high accuracy, regardless of part complexity. Our team of certified machinists combine decades of shared experience with the latest manufacturing technologies to ensure unbeatable quality at a competitive price.

Our machine shop features a number of CNC machines that are fully equipped to handle complex geometries at tight tolerances and can cut most materials, including carbon steel, alloy steel, copper and bronze alloys, aluminum, and composite products. When manufacturing your parts, there is no room for error. Stick with the best and submit a quote here on our website or give us a call.


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We gave Sparkman Industries a shot on some of our work because our normal shops had failed us.  And I am glad we did, Sparkman Industries has really helped us out with quality work.
Gary Stockton - National Petroleum Oilfield Products
We have been using Sparkman Industries for their machining services for the last three years and have always been completely satisfied with their performance. They do an excellent job of communicating, are always punctual, offer competitive pricing and always do exactly what is asked of them.
David Russell - Russell Oilfield
Great people to work with, fast turn arounds, quality work and a pleasure to do business with.
Kirk Brown - K&C Manufcturing


What is 5-Axis CNC Machining?

As a subtractive manufacturing process, 5-axis CNC (computer numerical control) machines are essentially 3-axis milling or lathe machines with additional degrees of movement. 5-axis machines provide the usual three axes of movement while allowing for the rotation of the rotary table or the cutting tool (or both) which provide the other two axes of movement. These machines come in 3 varieties: 5-axis indexed CNC mills, continuous 5-axis CNC mills and mill-turning centers. The more advanced capabilities of these machines provide superior design and production freedom but come at an increased cost. 5-axis machines are complex machines used produce high precision parts that can be cut from nearly any angle. They require specialized machinery to operate, and highly experienced machinists are necessary to man them.

Continuous 5-axis CNC Machining

A continuous 5-axis CNC machining center allows for full rotational movement of both the workpiece and the cutting tool during the entire production process. This completely removes the need for the workpiece to be manually repositioned and allows for the cutting of complex geometries with high accuracy. This machining provides improved production speed, cycle time, dimensional stability, and surface finish, but is the most expensive and requires the most technical knowledge.

Mill-turning CNC Machining

Mill-turning CNC centers can be considered as CNC lathe machines outfitted with CNC milling tools. The workpiece is attached to a spindle that can both rotate at high speed (like a lathe) and be repositioned at a precise angle (like a 5-axis mill). Both lathe and mill cutting tools (which can be switched out) are used to produce the part. Mill-turning machines utilize both the high productivity of CNC lathes and geometric accuracy of CNC milling. While still restricted to workpieces with a cylindrical profile, the added use of mill cutting tools allows for more complex cylindrical geometries that result in rotational symmetry.

Indexed 5-axis CNC Machining

Indexed 5-axis CNC milling acts as a combination of 3-axis CNC milling and continuous 5-axis CNC machining, hence why it is sometimes referred to as 3+2 CNC milling. During machining, the cutting tool is restricted to the same X, Y, and Z axes seen in 3-axis CNC machining. However, between operations, the bed and the cutting tool can rotate, permitting access to the workpiece from the 2 additional axes. The obvious benefit from this procedure is the elimination of the need to manually reposition the workpiece, thereby resulting in higher accuracy cuts at increased production speeds. Indexed 5-axis machining lacks the near-total design freedom that continuous 5-axis machining offers, but it does allow for production of more complex geometries at a lower cost.


Advantages of 5-Axis Machining vs. 3-Axis Machining

Increased Accuracy

With 5-axis CNC milling machines, the ability to move the cutting tool along five linear axes (X, Y, Z, as well as rotation around the X and Y axes) allows for greater flexibility with intricate parts by cutting complex geometry into hard-to-reach areas. This enhanced precision ensures that machined parts are produced with utmost accuracy and detail.

Enhanced Efficiency and Reduced Setup Time

The additional two rotational axes in 5-axis CNC machining enable simultaneous multi-sided machining without the need to manually reposition the workpiece. This significantly reduces setup time, as the machine can reach multiple faces of the part in a single operation. This streamlined process improves efficiency, shortens production time, and increases overall productivity.

Improved Surface Finish

By utilizing 5-axis CNC machining, the cutting tool can maintain continuous contact at an angle relative to the workpiece surface throughout the machining process. This results in smoother cuts, reduced tool marks, and improved surface finish. The ability to approach the workpiece from various angles reduces the need for secondary operations, such as manual polishing or additional machining steps.

Versatility in Complex Parts Manufacturing

5-axis CNC machining offers unparalleled versatility in manufacturing complex parts and components. It allows for the production of intricate geometries, undercuts, and compound angles that would be challenging or impossible to achieve with 3-axis machining. This versatility expands the design possibilities and opens up new avenues for innovation.

Reduced Material Waste

With 5-axis CNC machining, the ability to tilt and rotate the workpiece enables optimal positioning for cutting, minimizing material waste. By efficiently utilizing the raw material, manufacturers can achieve cost savings and reduce overall production costs.

Cost Effectiveness

While 5-axis CNC machines may have a higher upfront cost compared to 3-axis machines, they offer long-term cost-effectiveness. The ability to perform complex operations in a single setup reduces the need for multiple machines or manual interventions, which ultimately saves time and labor costs.

Improved Tool Life and Reduced Wear

5-axis CNC machining allows for improved tool life due to the ability to approach the workpiece from different angles. This reduces tool wear and extends the lifespan of cutting tools, resulting in lower tooling costs and reduced downtime for tool changes.