Axis ID on a CNC Machine

When facing a new machine for the first time, the world orientation of its axis set (relationship to the floor and to the operator) can often be identified this way, in this order (Fig. 4.3).

Figure 4.3 - The primary axes as they apply to three familiar machines

Z – The axis parallel to the main spindle;

X – Usually the longest axis, usually parallel to the floor;

Y – The axis perpendicular to both X and Z.

Use the right-hand rule for a mill in a shop (Fig. 4.4). Depending on the world perspective of the axis set, you may find your hand in any position, but it will be found to fit the rule.


Figure 4.4 – The right-hand rule helps identify the machine axes.


The most common example of skewed world orientation, shown in Figs. 4.5 is a slant bed lathe, where the X-axis has been tilted relative to the floor. This modification makes chip and coolant ejection more efficient and improves operator access for setting up tools.


Figure 4.5 – A slant bed lathe features a tilted X axis relative to the floor to improve chip ejection and operator access to tools

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