51nx-5XU 5-axis Horizontal Machining Center

September 01, 2014

Manufacturers of medical, aerospace, prototype and complex multiface parts have long understood the positive impact that 5-axis machining can have on productivity and quality, simply by consolidating operations. Makino's a51nx-5XU 5-axis horizontal machining center reportedly raises these capabilities to a new level, building on the quality, durability and reliability of the nx-series next-generation horizontal machining platform. With a newly designed 5th-axis table and work-pallet magazine, this new machining center enables manufacturers of complex parts to obtain the high levels of utilization and efficiency.

"When looking for a small 5-axis machining solution, companies are typically limited to single-pallet-load vertical machining centers," said Dave Ward, horizontal product line manager at Makino. "The a51nx-5XU stands apart with its horizontal orientation, integral cast 5th-axis table and integrated workpiece automation. Together, these features provide for a highly productive, highly reliable multi-axis machining solution that eliminates recutting of chips, stack-up errors and challenges of 5-axis part loading. It's the perfect blend of capabilities for the manufacturing of rotating cutting tools, aerospace, medical and prototype components."

The linear X, Y and Z axes of the a51nx-5XU are built from the same proven structure as Makino's a51nx horizontal machining center. Its rigid bed casting with three-point leveling system provides a solid foundation for all critical machine components. A tiered-column design redirects machining forces and resists deflection even high in the Y-axis. These features are further complemented by high-performance linear guides, for long-term reliability. Altogether, the a51nx-5XU design offers dynamic stiffness and exceptional vibration management for the highest degree of cutting stability.

With increasing demand for small-part 5-axis machining, many companies are adding aftermarket 5th-axis rotary tables to 4-axis machining centers. However, these 5-axis retrofits frequently offer less rigidity and pose several challenges in cable interface management. The a51nx-5XU avoids these issues with a single casting design that houses and integrates the B- and C-axis' twin direct-drive motors. This single-piece casting provides ideal rigidity and a minimized profile that reduces interference between the spindle and worktable. All cables are concealed to the roofline of the machine's splashguard and can be easily accessed and managed outside of the machining area. The a51nx-5XU rotary table design eliminates the stack-up errors, loss of rigidity and cable management challenges common to many table-on-table designs.

The design of the large direct-drive motors within the B and C axes enhance the productive capabilities of the a51nx-5XU, providing rapid traverse rates of 75 rpm and 150 rpm to minimize non-cut times. Jacket cooling of the direct-drive motor stators and bearing perimeters eliminate all risk of thermal deformation to help maintain repeatable, high-accuracy performance with exceptional quality. The C-axis also benefits from a BT-style 50-taper Big Plus (BBT50) interface and clamping mechanism, which provides location and clamping of the workpiece within the 5-axis machine envelope.

Traditionally, one of the biggest challenges associated with 5-axis part production has been automated capabilities. This is why Makino designed the a51nx-5XU with a unique work-pallet magazine (WPM) that simplifies pallet changes in horizontally oriented 5-axis applications, and facilitates unattended operation for more value-added labor demands.

The WPM takes the place of a traditional horizontal pallet changer, providing manufacturers with automated load/unload capabilities for maximum machine utilization. This technology follows a similar design to that of Makino's matrix tool magazine, ensuring quick and reliable transfer of workpieces between magazine and machine worktable. The standard WPM offers storage capacity of 22 different workpieces with sizes up to 300mm in diameter by 300mm tall. An optional, larger capacity WPM provides storage of up to 58 workpieces with diameters up to 200mm. Parts are mounted directly to the 50-taper dual-contact tool holders (BBT50) and stored in the WPM matrix. This capability makes the a51nx-5XU an ideal solution for continuous, unattended manufacturing in both high-mix, low-volume and low-mix, high-volume production environments.

The WPM system includes a dedicated work-setting station (WSS) for loading and setup operations, providing convenient and ergonomic operator access. A nearby work data management panel allows operators to process data defined per pallet and manage work schedules. Priorities can be set and changed for each pallet, helping to accommodate for engineering changes or urgent one-off part orders. For advanced levels of scheduling control and machine networking, the a51nx-5XU can also be equipped with Makino's MAS-A5 control system.

Related Glossary Terms

  • centers


    Cone-shaped pins that support a workpiece by one or two ends during machining. The centers fit into holes drilled in the workpiece ends. Centers that turn with the workpiece are called “live” centers; those that do not are called “dead” centers.

  • dynamic stiffness

    dynamic stiffness

    Measure of a machining system’s ability to dampen vibration from a forced input. If the dynamic stiffness of a system is not sufficient to dampen vibration, chatter occurs. See static stiffness; stiffness.

  • machining center

    machining center

    CNC machine tool capable of drilling, reaming, tapping, milling and boring. Normally comes with an automatic toolchanger. See automatic toolchanger.

  • rapid traverse

    rapid traverse

    Movement on a CNC mill or lathe that is from point to point at full speed but, usually, without linear interpolation.

  • stiffness


    1. Ability of a material or part to resist elastic deflection. 2. The rate of stress with respect to strain; the greater the stress required to produce a given strain, the stiffer the material is said to be. See dynamic stiffness; static stiffness.

Additional Products from Makino Inc.

To be competitive in the marketplace manufacturers must continuously identify opportunities to improve efficiency and increase capacity while maintaining the highest level of quality. Makino is introducing a new wire EDM machine – U6 H.E.A.T. Extreme – that delivers these requirements with Read More
Makino announces the F5 Pro6 vertical machining center designed to provide stiffness and rigidity for chatter-free cutting, agility for high-speed/hard-milling and accuracies for tight tolerance blends and matches typical of complex, 3D contoured geometry associated with die/mold and medical Read More
With the release of HyperConnect, Makino offers a suite of industrial internet of things (IIoT) applications for electrical discharge machines that enhances user experience and efficiency, and reduces machine downtime. Available on all Makino EDMs equipped with Hyper-i control systems, HyperConnect Read More
Makino offers EDGE-Series machines, the EDGE2 and EDGE3, to the U.S. manufacturing market. Built for general precision machining applications, both EDMs provide accurate and reliable performance for standard die/mold components or contract manufacturing with a space-saving design for shop floors of Read More
Makino offers the next-generation MAG3.EX 5-axis horizontal machining center, a machine platform updated with expanded capabilities for the processing of complex aluminum structural parts for the aerospace industry. With its speed, power and motion control enhancements, the new MAG3.EX provides Read More
The increasing complexity of modern tool, die, mold and medical part designs call for a new level of 5-axis machine performance. The Makino D200Z 5-axis vertical machining center reportedly answers these challenges by combining the quickness of machine movements and accuracies with the latest Read More
Building on its PS-Series product line, Makino announced the next-generation PS65 and PS105 vertical machining centers. Both models feature enhanced design characteristics and next-generation technologies that expand upon the capabilities of their predecessors.
Makino introduces SGI.5, its latest version of Super Geometric Intelligence software for high-feed rate, tight-tolerance machining of complex 3D contoured shapes. Depending upon the specific geometry of the application, SGI.5 can provide 20 to 60 percent faster cycle times while maintaining Read More
Automation is essential in helping manufacturers achieve maximum return on investment from their machine tools. Makino offers the availability of a new design configuration for its MMC2 automated pallet-handling system, which enables full compatibility with the company’s a61nx-5E 5-axis horizontal Read More
To address the need for high-quality hole drilling of turbine engine components, Synova and Makino are joining forces to offer the HybridCell, which combines the power of Synova’s Laser MicroJet (LMJ) with Makino’s leading edge EDM capabilities. It is a fully automated, manufacturing-ready, work Read More