Re: Newbie question of the day

Chris wrote:
I have a newbie question of the day. Has to due with the number of axis a machine has. Now I understand and am using 1 through 4 AKA X,Y,Z,A but I see machines listed with 5 or 8 even and thought I saw one listed with 15.

Nothing past 4 axis in the books I have, and Google has not been helpful (unless I wanted to buy one).

Anyone know a source on this?

I do have a feeling that some of it is marketing fluff from the manufactures.

Fluff? Not at all. There's lots of reasons to have more than 4 axes. Think of a lathe, for example, with twin turrets (2 axes each), plus a C axis spindle for milling or drilling with live tools. That's 5 axes total, and it's only a lathe.

It's real common for a 3 axis machining center to be fitted with a 2 axis rotary table so work can be twisted AND tilted. That's 5 axes again, and we haven't even gotten real fancy.

There's several companies that make horizontal machining centers in dual, face-to-face configurations, so that opposite sides of a prismatic workpiece can be machined at the same time. Add a rotary table for the work to sit on, plus 3 axes for each spindle, and you're up to 7, Yes, this could be done with two independent 3 or 4 axis controls; but it's often more effiecient to use just one control for the whole package. And, that sometimes makes it easier to prevent two opposed tools from meeting in the middle. Bad news, that.

As someone else pointed out, there are hypothetical axes, parallel to the real moving axes, that some controls use for very interesting interpolation functions. And there are a whole slew of reasons why pallet changers, robots, and other automation devices, might need to be run with real servos, synched to the working axes of many kinds of machines. When machine tools are ganged together into cells or tranfer lines, it's often useful to have full synchronization, or program selectable synchronization, among lots of different axes, even on differnt spindles, and different parts of the total system.

Some controls (the really cool ones, in my opinion) are capable of up to 21 axes of motion. Of course, the folks that program those are a special breed, usually recognized by their worn-out pocket protectors, glazed eyes, confused expressions, and a bit of drool always dripping down their chins.

You can also recognize the operators responsible for proofing programs on 21 axis machines. They walk around in circles, twitching and blinking furiously, and screaming "Holy Shit!! What the hell was that??!!" Those people are usually paid better than the average Haas wrangler; but they earn their pay for sure.



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