How Much Does a 5-Axis Machine Tool Cost?
Brandon Glenn 03.15.2022
How much does a 5-axis machine tool cost? It’s a valid question that deserves attention – especially as more shops consider this machine tool category to enhance their machining capabilities and profitability.
Unfortunately, the answer to this common question is somewhat of a riddle. There are several key factors that should be considered to truly understand the value of a 5-axis machine and its impact on your profitability.
What Key Characteristics Influence the Price of a 5-Axis Machine?
There are many 5-axis machine choices on the market today, and the range in MSRP can be dramatic. There are several physical characteristics that can directly influence the price of a 5-axis machine. Some of those include:
- Technology Levels: Your shop’s goal will steer you in the direction of either an entry-level 5-axis machine tool or a more sophisticated model. If you are looking to make the transition from a 3 to 5-axis machine, an entry level model may provide a logical “steppingstone”. However, if your shop has extensive 5-axis machining experience or contracts that require a larger machine size, high production volumes, or challenging materials, then a more sophisticated machine tool may be the solution you need.
- Working Ranges: To buy a 400mm or 500mm table? Often, the size of a machine tool is equated to the overall machining capabilities. However, in a 5-axis machining environment, a shop should look through a practical lens and purchase the machine that is the correct choice for its intended application. Larger worktables are nice to have if they are properly utilized – however, this increased size comes with direct tradeoffs, such as longer tool lengths to reach smaller parts.
- Software Packages: It is always important to understand what 5-axis control software is included with a 5-axis machine. These are highly capable machines, which naturally require high-end machining software utilities that allow you to take full advantage of the machine’s true capabilities. With some machine builders, software options may need to be added as optional content. With Okuma, many times Thermo Active Stabilizer (TAS), Collision Avoidance System (CAS), Super-NURBS, Tool Center Point Control (TCPC), Abso-Scales, and other options are included as standard.
- Automation Compatibility: Your machine tool should be able to grow and adapt as your business needs change over time. With that in mind, be sure your 5-axis machine can accommodate automation down the road. Good examples of this include prep for automatic pallet changers (APCs), robot integration, automatic doors, hydraulic or pneumatic ports through the table, etc.
Thinking Past the Initial Price Tag – Total Cost of Ownership
Did you know? In some cases, 15% of a machine’s total cost is its purchase price and 85% is its lifetime operations and consumables. We all understand the concept of Total Cost of Ownership. With this thought in mind, it is important to understand that purchasing a high-quality, but more costly, 5-axis machine tool will ultimately pay back a higher ROI and be more profitable in the years (or decades) to come. There are several key characteristics of a machine tool that directly impact total cost of ownership:
- Machine Mass: The mass of a 5-axis machine tool speaks directly to the quality, longevity, and durability of the machine. A heavier machine dissipates cutting energy away from the tool tip, resulting in quieter cuts, better surface finishes, and increased tool life. In extreme cases, we’ve had customers who switched to high-end machines experience an 80% reduction in monthly carbide costs!
Want to know more? Find out how a high-quality, robust machine tool basically pays for itself.
- Thermal Stability: Naturally, you expect high accuracy and performance from a 5-axis machine. Perhaps the biggest enemy to those goals is thermal growth. The last thing you want is to scrap an insanely expensive billet as the result of uncontrolled thermal growth of your machine tool. Whatever brand you are looking at, make sure they can clearly articulate a proactive strategy for limiting, measuring, and compensating for thermal growth.
Okuma combats thermal growth in 2 phases: Thermo-Friendly Concept means the machine is mechanically and kinematically designed to not only minimize thermal growth, but also make it repeatable and predictable. Thermo Active Stabilizer (TAS) is then added as an intelligent technology that can measure real time temperature to make instantaneous adjustments so your parts come out perfect, all day.
Interested in how thermal stability directly impacts your bottom line? Read More.
- Serviceability and Repair: When you pay for a high-end 5-axis machine, you naturally expect peak performance over a longer timeframe – in some cases, 20 years or more! Investing in a top quality machine gives peace of mind that this machine will pay for itself quickly, and then keep on ticking for years to come. Although safeguards, such as digital twin simulation and collision avoidance software are helpful, the likelihood of crashes and downtime still exist. Also, having a trusted machine tool builder and distributor partner that can provide high-level support with your operation or service needs is critical.
Sure, the price tag is higher on a 5-axis machine tool. But how much profit are you missing by not having a 5-axis machine? There’s a reason shops across the nation are turning to 5-axis machine tools – they continue to produce exponential benefits and higher returns.
Here are advantages that generate revenue or reduce cost over the lifetime of a quality 5-axis machine, quickly making up for the higher price tag:
- Fewer Setups: 5-axis allows for more machining in fewer clampings. This mitigates the need to change tools, adapt programs, or physically move the part – giving a shop more active cutting time and quick throughput.
- Higher Accuracy: 5-axis machining allows for the ability to machine multiple sides of a part in one workholding to minimize movement between stations, and reduce chances for error.
- Reduced Footprint: By condensing machining operations into a single machine, the need for multiple machine tools to produce a single part can be reduced, freeing up valuable shop floor real estate and decreasing maintenance touchpoints.
- Reduced Scrap and Part Rework: By condensing the number of setups within production, 5-axis machines lessen the risk of human and cumulative error and, in turn, reduces part rework or potential downtime.
- Capitalize On Your Shop’s Reputation: Consistently please customers with shorter lead times and by meeting tight-tolerance specifications. Gain the potential to expand revenue with an expanded book of business, part quantities, or even manufacturing more lucrative parts for new industries.
Ready to investigate ownership of a 5-axis machine tool in more detail? Download our 5-Axis Buyer’s Guide to gain valuable insight into additional 5-axis purchase considerations or contact your local Okuma distributor today!