3+2 Axis Milling (5-Axis Positional) With Autodesk Fusion 360

Emily Suzuki Emily Suzuki December 29, 2021

2 min read

Autodesk Fusion 360 allows high-efficiency toolpaths within the 3+2 milling (5-axis positional) environment thanks to features like its Machining Extension.


A knowledgeable engineer using a computer numerical control (CNC) machine paired with computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided design (CAD) software, like Autodesk Fusion 360, can create innovative products for a variety of industries. 3+2 (5-axis positional) milling can significantly reduce machine setup times between operations by streamlining toolpaths in Fusion 360.

Positional 5-axis milling capabilities offer many advantages, such as simplifying job setups and streamlining the manufacturing process. Let’s dive into what this term means and what Fusion 360 offers in this space.

What is 3+2-Axis (5-Axis Positional) Machining?

Often, the 3+2 machining process requires the engineer to reposition the cutting tool between cutting operations. 3+2 machining involves locking the cutting tool or part at a specific angle determined by the rotational axes (A and B) using a 3-axis program. 5-axis machining, on the other hand, uses a mobile cutting tool or part that can travel across the X, Y, and Z axes while also rotating around the A and B axes.

The A, B, and C axes are labeled alphabetically in correlation to X, Y, and Z. Basically, the A-axis is the rotation around the X-axis; the B-axis is the rotation around the Y-axis, and the C-axis is the rotation around the Z-axis. To see positional multi-axis applications, refer to the positional multi-axis video library.

5-Axis Positional Machining

Many 5-axis CAM software packages are too expensive or complicated to use effectively. Fusion 360, on the other hand, offers a simple but powerful workflow to transform milling toolpaths into positional 5-axis machining. Fusion 360 and its integrated CAD/CAM platform make setting up and programming multi-part fixtures a breeze. This process results in increased efficiency while also allowing you to reach features that would have taken another step or tool in your workflow or program on a 3-axis machine.

Additionally, since the part remains set up within the machine for most features, you can maintain more accurate tolerances without the troublesome relocating process. You can also verify your positional 5-axis tool paths with stock simulations. Finally, you can use the tool, holder, workholding, and machine table functions to prevent collisions before executing a toolpath on a CNC machine.

Fusion 360 Machining Extension

Fusion 360 offers various extensions to the base product if you want to unlock additional functionality. For 3-axis and 5-axis machining, the Fusion 360 Machining Extension is the ideal option. The Machining Extension provides the following additional functions:

The Fusion 360 Machining Extension implements automation, considers product variability, minimizes repetitive tasks, and ensures part quality. It also provides customizable drilling templates to reduce repetitive tasks and increase efficiency. On-machine verification operations inspect both freeform and geometric features while the part remains in the machine. 

Using Autodesk Fusion 360 helps designers enhance their next positional 5-axis project without sacrificing time, productivity, or money. 

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