Fusion 360 for multi-axis machining

Use Fusion 360 to maximise the ROI on your 5-axis CNC machines

Are you new to 5-axis machining or a seasoned pro? Learn how choosing the right CAM software can help you stand out from the crowd.

Why use Fusion 360 for 5-axis machining?

The flexibility of multi-axis machining combined with the power of Fusion 360 allows you to make parts using fewer machine setups, reduce errors, increase accuracy, and shorten production times so you can deliver on your projects faster.

Automated 3+2 machining

Purchase the Machining Extension to add automated 3+2 machining functionality to your existing Fusion 360 subscription. Automatically produce toolpaths that select the correct tool axis orientation to machine your entire part, including 3+2 hole drilling, machining undercuts, and other hard-to-reach features.

Fusion 360 for 4- and 5-axis machining

Add simultaneous 4- and 5-axis machining to your Fusion 360 subscription with the Machining Extension. Simplify the programming of the most complex 3D parts, using advanced toolpaths and toolaxis controls designed to achieve higher levels of precision and surface finish from your multi-axis machines.

Advanced 5-axis programming in Fusion 360

Programming complex 5-axis parts doesn't have to be a painful experience. Fusion 360 includes tools designed to help you produce safe, high-quality NC machining code.

  • Automatic collision avoidance

    Take the pain and guesswork out of 5-axis programming with automatic collision avoidance. Fusion 360 identifies potential collisions involving the cutting tool assembly, fixture, and workpiece and avoids them with safe, 5-axis motion.

  • Advanced toolpath strategies

    As part complexity increases, so does the need for flexibility in your CAM software. Packed with a vast library of powerful 5-axis strategies, Fusion 360 provides a wealth of options to help you program the most challenging geometry.

  • Toolaxis optimization

    Dynamic tilt and turn tools inside Fusion 360 help you find the optimum toolaxis orientation to machine your parts. Adjusting the toolaxis allows you to optimize cutting conditions, use shorter tools, and produce an exceptional surface finish.

Additional 5-axis programming tools

Fusion 360 is built on the same core machining kernel as Autodesk PowerMill, meaning it includes many powerful tools to help you create high-quality 5-axis machining code for your CNC machines.

  • Simplified toolaxis options

    Choose from a range of toolaxis options to precisely control the 5-axis motion of your CNC machine tool. Select To/From and combine with Point/Line/Curve for super-smooth, predictable machine motion.

  • Point spacing controls

    Control the distribution of points on toolpaths to suit your specific machine and NC controller. Choose evenly spaced points for the best surface finish on modern machines, or fit arcs for smooth motion on older machinery.

  • Toolpath simulation

    Simulating toolpaths inside Fusion 360 allows mistakes to be caught and resolved before G-code files are run on your machines. Additional stock display options allow you to visualize toolpath motion and material removal.

  • Lead/lean toolaxis

    Use lead/lean toolaxis motion to follow the shape of the 3D model being machined for smooth, flowing 5-axis motion. Lead/lean allows the creation of highly efficient, Sturtz finishing toolpaths.

  • Free user-editable post-processors

    Fusion 360 includes a vast library of user-editable post-processor files to export G-code files for most types of CNC machine. Post-processors can be downloaded for free from our online library.

  • Machine simulation

    Simulate toolpaths using a 3D digital twin of your CNC machine and NC controller. Fusion 360 uses the same post-processing engine to drive the simulation so "what you see, is what you'll get" on your actual machine.

How 5-axis machining with Fusion 360 can help you succeed

Investing in modern 5-axis machines and CAM software can give your business a competitive edge, allowing you to produce better parts, whilst also reducing costs, and increasing profit margins.

  • A woman in a technology center removing a completed 5-axis part from a Haas VF5SS CNC machine

    Produce higher-value parts

    Combine a 5-axis CNC machine with Fusion 360 to produce complex and challenging parts and deliver a more valuable service to customers.

  • A machine operator preparing a CNC machine for manufacturing to begin

    Reduce machining times

    5-axis machining allows components to be made with fewer setups, removing the need to transfer parts between operations, helping you produce parts faster and meet your customer delivery timescales.

  • Inside of a CNC machine as it uses a spindle-mounted probe to take measurements on a component

    Improve part quality

    Leverage the flexibility of 5-axis machining so parts can be made using shorter cutting tools and more efficient strategies to improve accuracy and remove the need for manual polishing.

  • Various cutting tools that are used by Conturo Prototyping to machine parts

    Reduce costs and increase profits

    Invest in 5-axis machining to help drive business growth by shortening project lead times, reducing the need for costly fixtures, and making better use of cutting consumables.

  • Conturo Prototyping

    “We recently upgraded to the Fusion 360 Machining Extension. It paid for itself in the very first job and in just a few weeks.”
    – Patrick Fee, Shop Supervisor

    Read story

    Image courtesy of Conturo Prototyping

  • MJK Performance

    “The 5-axis capabilities in Fusion 360 are so powerful yet simple to use that programs that used to take hours now take minutes”.
    – Phil Butterworth, CAM Programmer

    Read story

    Image courtesy of MJK Performance

Try the Fusion 360–Machining Extension free for seven days

New to Fusion 360? Initiate a free trial and follow the instructions below to activate the Fusion 360–Machining Extension to access 5-axis programming.*

Already have Fusion 360? Follow these instructions to get a seven day free trial for a Fusion 360 extension:

  • Click Extensions in the top-right corner of the Application Bar in Fusion 360
  • Select the Machining Extension from the list of ** Available Extensions
  • From the Access Options dropdown in the top-right corner, select Start 7-day free trial and click Purchase

* Fusion 360 extension trials are not available for Fusion 360 for personal or startup use

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      Whether you're new to 5-axis machining or looking to upgrade your current capabilities, Fusion 360 can help you make better use of your CNC machines.

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      Fusion 360 frequently asked questions (FAQ)

      Here are some of the most commonly asked questions relating to 5-axis programming with Fusion 360

      Fusion 360 is integrated CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software that unifies design, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing into a single software platform.

      The Machining Extension unlocks additional functionality inside Fusion 360. The extension enables access to more advanced CNC machining strategies, 5-axis programming, and toolpath optimization controls that simplify the machining of complex, feature-rich parts to win higher-value business. 

      Learn more

      The Fusion 360 Machining Extension unlocks advanced CAM programming tools that can help simplify the machining of complex, feature-rich parts, including:

      • Programming automation (multi-axis hole drilling)
      • 4- & 5-axis simultaneous machining (swarf, multi-axis contour, advanced tool axis controls, automatic collision avoidance)
      • Toolpath modifications (limiting, deleting passes, replace tool)
      • Part inspection (2D geometry, 3D surfaces, part alignment)

      The Fusion 360 Machining Extension can be accessed using different payment methods to suit your business needs, including daily, monthly, and yearly options. Learn more about purchasing Fusion 360 extensions.

      Many complex parts can be produced using 3-axis CNC machining. However, there are limitations to what a 3-axis machine can do. These types of machine are great at producing a wide range of components but are less suitable if parts contain undercuts or holes that are not aligned with the machines’ Z-axis. In these cases, a 5-axis machine is more appropriate as the addition of two rotary axes allows more features to be accessed and machined. This can allow parts to be produced using fewer fixturing setups, which reduces machining times and helps avoid inaccuracies appearing on the machine part. A 5-axis machine can also be used to improve overall machining efficiency. For example, it is possible to machine features using shorter, more rigid cutting tool assemblies – resulting in reduced cutter push-off, improved accuracy and surface finish, as well as the opportunity to run at higher cutting feed rates to reduce overall machining times. 

      It’s important to note that many components can be effectively machined using 3+2 (also known as “positional 5-axis”) machining. Here the two rotary axes are used to orient the cutting tool relative to the workpiece before running a 3-axis machining operation. For example, 3+2 machining can be used to drill holes into the sides of a part, or to machine a small feature located at the bottom of a deep pocket. In the most complex applications, the use of simultaneous 5-axis machining can be used. Here, the machine moves all five axes at the same time and can allow doubly-curved surfaces  to be machined with a single milling operation that presents the cutting tool to the surface in a constant way to achieve extremely high levels of surface finish.  

      If you’re looking to upgrade from a 3-axis machine to 5-axis milling, it’s important you have CAM software with the tools needed to drive the machine accurately and safely – so features like collision avoidance, simulation and verification are essential.

      The general goal of CNC machining is to produce components with the right level of accuracy and surface finish, whilst minimizing the time needed to complete the machining operation. The ability to change the orientation of the cutting tool relative to the component being machined can positively impact this goal. Here are a few examples of where changing tool orientation can be a good thing:  

      • Using shorter tools – Orientating the tool axis can allow you to use shorter, more rigid tool assemblies. These tend to experience less cutter push-off and can be run with higher cutting feed rates resulting in a better surface finish and faster cycle times.  
      • Hard to reach features – Changing the tool orientation can allow difficult-to-reach features to be machined (e.g. features at the bottom of deep pockets) whilst avoiding collisions involving the cutting tool assembly and neighboring geometry. 
      • Machining inclined planar surfaces – Aligning the toolaxis so that it is perpendicular to the inclined planar surface means it can be machined with a flat-bottomed cutting tool and large stepover – as opposed to milling the surface with a ball nose cutting tool and very small stepover – for faster cycle times. 
      • Improving cutting conditions – Tilting the cutting tool axis to change the contact point between workpiece and cutting tool and improving surface finish. For example, avoid using the very tip of a ball nose tool (where the effective feed per tooth is not ideal).