Why Engineers Choose 5-Axis Indexed Milling for Product Innovation

Why Engineers Choose 5-Axis Indexed Milling for Product Innovation

By Alex Edwards
Head of Communications (Europe)

In the intricate world of engineering and manufacturing, design freedom is paramount. Every angle, every curve, and every dimension matters. In this pursuit of innovation, engineers constantly seek cutting-edge solutions to push the boundaries of what's possible. Our 5-axis indexed milling service does just that.

Each machining project is unique. Traditional 3-axis machining remains an effective method for projects requiring only three axes of motion. But some projects require more, and breaking out into 5-axis indexed milling opens up a whole new realm of intricate geometries and contours with ease. Let’s discuss three of the major benefits it delivers:


1. More space, more opportunities

One of the most striking advantages of 5-axis indexed milling is its larger envelope –  150% larger than our 3-axis service. This means even the most ambitious designs can be brought to life with the same high quality that you expect from Protolabs.


  Max Part Size (mm)
Material Type 3 axis milling (X,Y,Z) 3+2 axis milling (X,Y,Z) 5-axis indexed milling (X,Y,Z)
Hard Metals 254 x 178 x 95 66 x 73 x 99 254 x 178 x44
Soft Metals (Aluminium) 254 x 178 x 95
559 x 356 x 95
66 x 73 x 99 254 x 178 x 95
Plastics 254 x 178 x 95 N/A 254 x 178 x 95

*some restrictions per material might apply LEARN MORE

Minimum size: 6.35mm x 6.35mm x 1.1mm


2. A new angle of approach

Gone are the days of being limited to three axes of motion should your project require more. With 5-axis indexed milling, engineers can explore more complex geometries and non-orthogonal features like off-axis holes, making intricate designs a reality. Designers and Engineers can rest assured that even the most challenging geometries can be machined more precisely, even with internal pockets and cavities. This flexibility encourages creativity when tackling projects that were previously deemed impossible.


3. More complete parts

By offering an improvement in manufacturing capabilities, engineers are empowered to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries of their designs further than ever before. Whether it's aerospace components, automotive parts, or intricate medical devices, the expanded envelope ensures that no project is too complex to tackle.

Our new 5-axis indexed milling service reduces the amount of unreachable material compared to traditional methods, with our service averaging an improvement of 13% on plastic parts. The more material that can be reached, the more opportunity for engineers to take effect, meaning more complete parts can be achieved.