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How to choose between the 3 axis and 4 axis CNC router?

Author: Jack; Last Modify: Apr 14, 2021

Three-axis CNC router and four-axis CNC router are collectively called woodworking engraving machines. According to the different processing paths, it can be further divided into three types of engraving machines such as the three-axis, four-axis and five-axis. Today, Blue Elephant wants to show you the difference between the three-axis engraving machine and four-axis engraving machine from 5 aspects including what is it, what they can do, what are the differences in configurations, what industries they are applied, and some considerations for selecting a CNC wood router. What we do is to help you choose the CNC machine that is more suitable for your processing needs. Follow me to get it now.

Part 1. What is CNC router?

3 axis CNC router

3 axis CNC router is the entry-level engraving machine for the engraving machine industry. It can perform intelligent milling, engraving, cutting, milling, grooving and drilling functions in different materials by moving a tool bit on three-axis. As a basic machine, it can be upgraded to other machines like multi-head CNC router, multi-process CNC router and other CNC machine.

Processing path of 3 axis CNC machine 4 Axis CNC router

4 axis CNC router generally can be divided 4th axis CNC router and rotary axis CNC router. Compared to the 3 axis CNC router, the 4th axis engraving machine is special in its spindle which can swing 180 degrees left and right. And this type 4 axis CNC router not only can realize plane processing but also make work possible on both sides. And it mainly does some surface processing of 3D work pieces.

Processing path of 4 axis CNC router

Another 4 axis CNC router is also called rotary axis CNC router. Compared with the 3 axis CNC router, this type of CNC machine is adding a rotary device to the 3 axis CNC router. And the rotary device mainly realizes the machining of cylindrical work pieces. It should be noted that the rotary device can be placed in any position wherever you want to whether it is the X-axis direction or the Y-axis direction of the machine. Besides that, the rotary device can not only be placed on the machine but also be independent of the machine. And it is easier to operate, maintain and transport. Therefore this type 4 axis CNC router can realize processing cylindrical work pieces and the planing engraving.

Processing path of rotary axis CNC router

Part2. What are the differences in configurations?

Machine bed: Compared with the 3-axis engraving machine, the bed of the 4-axis engraving machine is thicker, which not only ensures the machine is more stable at high speed but also ensures the accuracy of the machine. At the same time, the service life of the machine is extended accordingly.

Motor: Three-axis CNC router can use servo motors or stepper motors according to customer requirements. 4-axis CNC router is recommended to choose servo motors above 850 watts, and they must be equipped with a reducer. The greater the motor power, the greater the torque provided. And the accuracy of the machine can be better guaranteed.

Guide rail: The commonly used guide rail sizes are 20mm, 25mm, 30mm. It is recommended that the four-axis engraving machine select 25 mm or more. Rails of this size have a strong carrying capacity, which not only helps to increase the speed of the machine but also increases the processing efficiency accordingly.

Control system: The conventional 3-axis engraving machine is recommended to choose DSP, NK105, and Mach3. The four-axis machine is to choose the control system with faster processing speed and higher control precision such as Syntec, Baoyuan, Siemens.
Cooling method: The three-axis engraving machine generally adopts manual spray cooling, and a four-axis engraving machine uses automatic oil mist/water spray cooling to facilitate the processing of stone metals.

Part 3. What they can do?

3 axis CNC router

The 3 axis engraving machine has only three working directions as X, Y, and Z-axis. Due to the limitation of the working direction, So it only can realize the plane engraving. And it is impossible to achieve complicated hollowing out and 3D engraving. If you want to achieve simple flat machining in wooden furniture, advertising, and other industry, these three-axis machines can meet your machining requirements. For example, three-dimensional wave board processing, cabinet doors, solid wood doors, craft doors, paint-free doors, screens, craft window processing, shoe polishers, game cabinets and panels, mahjong tables, computer tables, and panel furniture products’ auxiliary processing.

Samples processed by the 3 axis CNC router

4 axis engraving machine has four processing directions of X, Y, Z and A-axis, and includes both three-dimensional CNC router and rotary CNC router. Therefore, the four-axis engraving machine can realize the processing of three-dimensional work pieces such as Dragon pillar, Guanyin statue, Buddha statue, Roman column, gourd and so on, and cylindrical work pieces like turned and box newel posts, corbel, handrail, chair leg, door and window frame based on the plane engraving machine.

Samples processed by 4 axis CNC router Samples processed by rotary axis CNC router

Part5. What industries are applied?

CNC router is widely used in furniture, advertising, crafts, molds, electronics, construction, printing and packaging, wood, decoration, tombstones, crystal products, stone industry. As mentioned above, the four-axis engraving machine is an upgrade of the 3-axis CNC router. Therefore, compared with the 3 axis CNC router, the application range of the four-axis engraving machine is more extensive.

Part 6. How to choose them?

There are various types of engraving machines, and how to choose an engraving machine is important for users. Today, Blue Elephant teaches you how to choose between three-axis and four-axis engraving machines. If it is just simple plane processing, the three-axis engraving machine can satisfy. If you need to perform complex, three-dimensional and diverse processing, then the four-axis engraving machine is the best choice. So, how to choose the four-axis engraving machine with two linkage modes? The next thing I want to talk about is the rotary engraving machine. How do users choose a machine based on where the rotary device is placed? And the precautions when purchasing a four-axis engraving machine.

When the rotary device is directly placed on the machine table, it does not affect the processing size. The rotary device can be put on and taken off at any time, which is more convenient to use for users. So it is suitable for users with small workpieces.

When the rotary device put on the side of the machine, we need to consider the size of the workpiece to be processed and the effective processing size of the machine. Because the diameter of the rotary device affects whether the gantry is raised, the user needs to know the size of the workpiece to be machined and the effective processing size of the machine when choosing again, and finally decide the position where the rotary device is placed.

Which user is suitable for the case where the rotary device is independent of the machine bed, and what are the benefits? If the width of the machine is greater than 2 meters and the diameter of the rotary shaft is greater than 200 mm, it is recommended that the rotary shaft be placed independently of the machine. This will not affect the effective processing size of the user, but will also benefit the packaging and transportation of the machine.

The above is a different case of a 4-axis engraving machine with a rotary device. The next thing to say is how do users choose a four-axis CNC router whose spindle can be swung? Because the spindle can swing left and right, the machining size of the work piece in the transverse direction will be reduced to a certain extent. And when the spindle is swing, the machining accuracy will be affected too. At this time, the accuracy of the machine's parts and the accuracy of the machine's assembly are particularly important. Therefore, the user must choose a manufacturer with sufficient production strength like Blue Elephant, and a professional enough in technology and assembly to reduce the error range and achieve satisfactory processing results.

Part 7. What can Blue elephant provide for you

Complete machine types:

Part 6 is just a selection guide for our 3 axis CNC router and 4 axis CNC router. Of course, if your production volume is relatively large and you want higher processing efficiency,you can also choose a multi-process engraving machine and an ATC engraving machine. If your processing workpiece is relatively small, you can choose our mini engraving machine. If you mainly process in the stone industry, you can choose our stone engraving machine. If you mainly process large molds, you can choose the EPS engraving machine. Besides, as a professional engraving machine manufacturer, we provide customized services and are committed to letting you choose the most cost-effective machine to meet your diverse processing needs.

Perfect after-sales service:

The professional after-sales service team provides you with 24-hour online and offline services. Regardless of any issues about machine selection, installation, operation, repair, maintenance, etc., you can always contact us. Responding to the customer for the first time has always been our commitment to our customers. Besides, we have a dedicated technical team that visits customers every year to solve any problems related to the CNC engraving machine according to customer needs.

If you want to know more about the CNC machine, you can follow us. We will continue to update the relevant knowledge about CNC machine such as buyer guide of the CNC router, machine operation, machine maintenance. Blue Elephant looks forward to progressing with you and growing up together.