A Quick Overview of the Axis Counts for CNC Machining

A Quick Overview of the Axis Counts for CNC Machining

A CNC machine has many different components. Some include the spindle, bed, work table, and axes the machine uses to move the cutting tool.

A CNC machine's number of axes determines how the machine will operate. Let's look at the different types of axis counts for CNC machining and how they might affect the machine's performance.

Different Types of Axis Count on CNC Machines

The three main axis counts for CNC machines are 2-axis, 3-axis, and 4- or 5-axis.


A 2-axis machine has a cutting tool that moves along the X and Y axes. This machine is typically best for tasks such as milling and drilling.


A 3-axis machine has a cutting tool that moves along the X, Y, and Z axes. You'll typically find these used for tasks such as milling, drilling, and tapped hole creation.

4- or 5-Axis

A 4- or 5-axis machine has a cutting tool that moves along the X, Y, Z, and A or B axes. The A and B axes are rotational axes that allow the cutting tool to rotate. This machine works best for milling, drilling, tapped hole creation, and reaming.

Benefits of Different Axis Counts

The number of axes on a CNC machine tool determines the machine's degree of freedom. More axes generally mean more flexibility in the operations you might need on a workpiece.

Three-axis machining centers are the most common type in use today. They can perform most, if not all, of the operations of a CNC lathe or mill. However, they are limited in the complexity of shapes they can produce.

Four- and five-axis machining centers provide the ability to produce more complex shapes. You can often find these machines in the aerospace and medical industries, where parts with precise tolerances are required.

The choice of the axis count is determined by the work you need. In many cases, a three-axis machining center with an AC servo motor will suffice. However, a machine with more axes may be necessary for complex projects.

Determining the Best for Your Business

Knowing the number of axes on a CNC machine is helpful when choosing a machine for your business. Once you have a CNC machine picked out with the right number of axes, you'll be ready to tackle any project that comes your way. 

Industrial Automation can help you with electronic products like servo drives and motors. We have a wide range of products to help you automate your business. Give us a call today, and let us help you find the right products for your business.