Week 10: 4 Axis Mill


We will become familiar with the 4 axis mill, look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of the machine, and basic setup procedures.


4 Axis

The 4 axis mill can do everything an X, Y, Z mill can do plus it can rotate the material (A), this is the 4th axis.  The way the rotary axis works is similar to a lathe.

For the time being, we will always mount the material in the rotation axis, not the mill bed.



The mill has pre-sets for the following approved materials:

Styrene foam
Chemical Wood (Soft)
Chemical Wood
Chemical Wood (Hard)
Modeling Wax
Wood (Soft)
Wood (Hard)
ABS (these settings work great for Delrin)

It can start as either flat or round stock.


Flat Stock

Two sided parts made from flat stock.  All of the roughing and finishing is done to one side of the part, the stock is rotated 180 degrees, then the other side is roughed and finished.  Tabs will often be added and there is a faint seam line left after machining.


Round Stock

Full rotational parts can be made from round stock.  There is a full roughing stage, then a final finishing pass.  These often take longer than two-sided parts made from flat stock.  Tabs can be added to the two ends of the part.

Whatever the shape of your stock, there needs to be extra material at the ends of the part.


Center Holes

Just like a lathe, the 4 axis has a live center and a center hole must be made in the material before it is mounted.



We will need 3D models to work with the 4 axis.  An .igs or .stl file is ideal.



We will be using Roland’s SRP Player for the CAM.

This where you will select material, set the size, create the tool paths, and get a time estimate of the job.


Machine Interface

VPanel for Modela Pro II is the interface you use to set origin, jog the spindel, and work directly with g-code.  For now, we will not use g-code.


Setting Origin

The mill remembers origin, even after it has been shut off.  Most of the time, you will only need to set X origin and Z origin in relation to the bit.


Length of Job

These types of jobs usually take a very long time (hours).  Check the length of a job before beginning.  You can NOT leave the machine unattended.

There is a pause button, but you must also stop the spindle from turning.


In Class Demo

We’ll go over basic set up on the 4 axis mill.

We’ll go over some basics of creating 3D models in Vectorworks.


For Next Week

Skill Builder

 4Axis Mill Set Up for Round Stock

Basic 3D Modeling in Vectorworks

Think about your 4 Axis Mill Assignment due in two weeks.




Related Reading/Viewing

Roland MDX-540

Users manual for MDX540

User’s manual for the ZCL-540 rotary axis unit

Tutorial guide for SRP Player Pro software (pdf)

SRP Player Workflow (video)