lineup of multi axis finishers

Multi-Axis Finisher Q&A

What is a Multi-Axis Finisher?

A tool that uses an extremely large radius to increase finishing performance in two different ways, depending on the needs of the machinist. Either the Multi-Axis Finisher will provide a better surface finish than a traditional Ball End Mill in the same amount of time, or will provide the same surface finish in far less time than a traditional Ball End Mill. A middle ground with improved surface finish and reduced cycle time is also easily achievable.

What Are Other Names for Multi-Axis Finishers?

Multi-Axis Finishers are oftentimes referred to as Barrel Cutters or Conical Barrel Mills or Circle Segment Cutters, among many others.

What Are the Different Forms of Multi-Axis Finishers, and How Do They Differ?

There are several different forms of Multi-Axis Finishers, including Lens, Taper, Oval, and Barrel. With a Lens Form, there’s a large radius on the end of the tool that’s in line with the tool axis. Taper Form, in contrast, has three tangential radii and a large radius defined at a specific angle relative to the tool axis. An Oval Form has two tangential radii, offering additional angle flexibility, while a Barrel Form has a large radius on the OD of the tool.

The most significant benefit is oftentimes observed utilizing a Taper Form Multi-Axis Finisher, as the radius of this tool can become vastly large on this form, while the others are more limited. However, this great benefit also comes with the least amount of flexibility in terms of approach to a workpiece.

What Are the Benefits of a Multi-Axis Finisher?

There are two clear benefits to using a Multi-Axis Finisher, compared to a Ball End Mill: Increased surface finish, and reduced cycle time (Or most likely both, concurrently).

What is a Benefit Multiple?

Helical Solutions is the industry’s premier manufacturer of Multi-Axis Finishers, and the Benefit Multiple is a significant reason why. Helical specifies the theoretical benefit that can be seen with its Multi-Axis Finishers, providing machinists direct insight into the gains that can be realized with these tools.

Benefit Multiple refers to the Cusp Height, correlated directly with the theoretically-achievable surface finish. Assuming the same cusp height from a Ball End Mill to a Multi-Axis Finisher, the Benefit Multiple relates to the time savings that could be seen in a machinists’ toolpath. For example, a Benefit Multiple of 4 would result in a toolpath ¼ as long as for a Ball End Mill of the same diameter. The stepover pass-to-pass would be 400% as much as a Ball End Mill to keep the same cusp.

When Should I Not Use a Multi-Axis Finisher?

Multi-Axis Finishers are best applied to wide-open surface areas; or large, smooth contours rather than small features or tight areas. Application of these tools will always be on a case-by-case basis. For help with your specific application, contact Helical Solutions Technical Support at 866-543-5422.

How Can I Get the Most Out of My Multi-Axis Finisher?

Multi-Axis finishers are best utilized when working further towards the OD of the tool. Tapered Form Multi-Axis Finishers are the most obvious choice for this, as its nose radius is small and has the least amount of efficiency. Similarly to a ball end mill, working near the center will have limited cutting ability, while the OD of the tool will see the full surface footage of the programmed RPM.

Taper Form Multi-Axis Finishers should be used when tilted at the specified taper angle. Oval Form Multi-Axis Finishers should be used towards the OD. Lens Form Multi-Axis Finishers should be tilted to avoid working on-center.

Lens Form Multi-Axis Finishers Look Like a High Feed End Mill. Can I Use it That Way?


Yes. However, there are differences in the form, and while a Lens Form Multi-Axis Finisher could theoretically be used as a High Feed End Mill, the two tools are not interchangeable.  A High Feed End Mill would not be the best choice for Multi-Axis Finishing, nor would a Lens Form Multi-Axis Finisher be our first recommendation for feed milling.

Do I need special software to program Multi-Axis Finishers?

Yes. A number of years ago, there were only a few CAM software packages that supported the programming of these specific forms. Nowadays, most CAM software providers have some degree of support for this method. Two of the first CAM software offerings to support this were MasterCAM and Hypermill, though many additional options exist today.

Why haven’t I heard of Multi-Axis Finishers Until Now?

In the grand scheme of things, Multi-Axis Finishers provide a very new approach to finishing, having been developed within the last handful of years.  Similar to High Efficiency Milling, these tools offer a new technique to approach your workpiece, offering increased efficiency and reduced cycle times.  Compared to the history of milling, modern tool manufacturing and CAM software have only just become able to program these unique forms.  Multi-axis finishers are positioned to revolutionize the world of finishing.

For more information on Multi-Axis Finishers, visit Multi-Axis Finishers: The Key to Amazing Surface Finish.

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