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.”