Five-axis machines enable two types of multi-axis machining operations: full contouring and positioning (a.k.a. 3 + 2 machining). Thought of as siblings, contouring would be the alluring one and 3 + 2 would be more on the homely side. This is because contouring operations feature complex simultaneous motion of all five axes during a cut while 3 + 2 only uses the rotary axes to position and then lock the tool and/or workpiece at different angles outside of the cut.
That said, many shops find great value in 3 + 2. One is Canada’s Moulexpert. It now leverages 3 + 2 to manufacture more reliable and effective molds for thin-walled containers. Among other benefits, this capability has enabled it to reduce setups of mold inserts from as many as 25 to two, as detailed in this story.