The ABCs of a B Axis
The B axis on a machine gives operators the ability to manipulate a tool to any angle in precise increments. It is capable of moving in an arbitrary five-axis plane rather than being restricted to the traditional live tool motions found on a Swiss machine, where a milling cutter can be positioned axially to either the diameter or the face of the part.
Sometimes, the B axis is the rotation of the milling head. On other turn-mill machines, though, the linear motion that enables a second spindle or subspindle to approach the main spindle for a workpiece pick-off is referred to as a B axis.
The B axis is best suited to machine complex geometry parts in lower volumes. Complex parts can be machined in one setup by using the B axis cutting capability, which helps avoid the need to spend a lot of time reconfiguring the tool zone to accommodate a different part or particular machined feature. This is especially useful in the medical industry, where sculpted, low volume parts are often machined.
To read about one OEM’s multitasking center with a B axis, visit “Machining Complex Workpieces Complete.”
For more information about the B axis, read “The Buzz about the B Axis.”
Vertical turning centers that use the main spindle to load and unload themselves are finding increasing acceptance as multitasking capabilities make them efficient processing centers for producing chucked parts.
Introduced to the turn-mill machine tool design in about 1996, the Y axis was first used on a single-spindle, mill-turn lathe with a subspindle. The idea of a Y axis on a CNC originated from the quality limitation of polar interpolation and the difficulty in programming, not from electronic advances in controls or servomotor technology as one might commonly think.
Many shops struggle with trial and error, but some companies are lucky enough to discover what works best for their application the first time around.