We’ve Upgraded the Multi-axis Capabilities for Toolpaths in Fusion 360

Dylan Smith June 8, 2022 3 min read

Check out this overview of the recent multi-axis additions to toolpaths and how you can use them to get more out of your machine tools.


In case you missed it in our May What’s New update, we recently gave the multi-axis capabilities a significant upgrade. Steep & Shallow toolpaths have included multi-axis options for a while, but we have now extended these options to work with Pencil, Scallop, Parallel, Spiral, Radial, Morphed Spiral, and Project toolpaths. These new options are part of the Fusion 360 Machining Extension, which you can learn more about here.

This article will speak to the additions and how you can use them to get more out of our machine tools. Alternatively, you can watch the video at the end of the article to watch how to use the multi-axis options.

Accessing the new multi-axis options

You will now see a new “Multi-Axis” tab within the toolpath dialog form on the toolpaths listed above. Within this tab, you can access numerous options to control the multi-axis behavior of toolpaths. Options include primary modes, preferred tilt angle, collision avoidance options, and tool axis limits.

Primary mode

The primary mode specifies your default tool axis. For example, your tool axis will be vertically aligned with the current Z-axis if it is set to vertical. The other options here include “from/to point” and “from/to a curve.” For these options, it’s best to imagine the tool has an infinitely long axis going through its center. This infinite axis will always be in contact with the point or curve defined with this option. From our experience, the “from point/curve” option is most suited for machining recessed forms, whereas the “to point/curve” is best suited for machining protruding geometry.

Preferred tilt

Preferred tilt is the next option down in this list. This option allows us to apply a limit to the amount of tool axis tilting that will be applied. Remember that you can only use preferred tilt when the primary mode is set to “use from/to a point/curve.” A simple example might see the tool axis initially tilting to/from the curve/point that you defined. If the tool axis tilting exceeds the preferred tilt angle, Fusion 360 will lock the tool axis and keep it fixed at this value until the shape or position of the curve/point allows the tool axis to tilt away from the limit.

Collision avoidance

Collision avoidance allows you to set parameters to ensure your shaft and holder don’t collide with your component. The most popular and low touch method of multi-axis is using a vertical primary mode with the collision avoidance mode set to “automatic.” This forces the tool axis to remain vertical wherever it can. The tool axis will tilt away to avoid any collisions between the component and tool assembly.

Other collision avoidance modes are “to/from a point/curve.” You can use these collision avoidance modes with any of the primary modes. For example, you may use a vertical primary mode with “to/from a point/curve” chosen as the option for collision avoidance. Your tool axis will remain vertical wherever it can, but the point or curve will guide it if it encounters a collision.

Tool axis limits

The tool axis limits section allows you to define minimum and maximum angles to control the overall range of tool axis tilting. These can be a great way to keep a toolpath within the rotary ranges of your 5-axis machine tool. For example, if you’re A-axis has a maximum range of +110 degrees, you can input 110 degrees into the maximum tilt field. This ensures your toolpath never exceeds the limits of this axis.

In cases where a toolpath hits either the minimum or maximum limits, an additional option allows you to choose how to react. You can choose to trim the toolpath to remove offending sections of the toolpath or modify the tool axis for the offending sections to keep them at the maximum value.

In addition to defining limits that match your actual CNC machine tool, you can configure these options to represent “soft limits” that define a narrow range within which your tool axis will operate. This can help minimize the overall amount of 5-axis machine motion generated.

As you move down the multi-axis form, the level below always takes precedence over the one above. For example, your preferred angle will override the primary mode, the collision avoidance mode will override them both, and the tool axis limits will override everything.

Watch the video below to learn more:

Ready to get more out of your machine tools? Try the Fusion 360 Machining Extension today.

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