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What is the difference between 2D

,
2.5D and 3D contouring?
Working in two dimensions (2D) means that you are cutting out a part with
features that are all at the same depth. This is common for laser, hot-wire,
water jet, and plasma cutting, along with engraving. The FlashCut CNC
software's DXF Import feature automates the creation of a tool path from a
2D DXF file.

Working in two and a half dimensions (2.5D) means you are cutting a part
that has multiple flat features at varying depths. During a 2 ½ D
cutting process, the Z axis positions itself to a depth where the X and Y axes
interpolate to cut a feature. The Z axis then retracts so the X and Y axes can
move to the start point of the next feature, which may be cut at a different Z
depth than the last feature. Most simple CAM programs deal with 2.5D
parts.

Working in three dimensions (3D) means that you have the ability to control
at least three axes simultaneously. 3D contouring can then be accomplished
by creating curves that use all three axes at once, like in a helical cut. You
will most often need a full CAM program to create g-code files capable of
performing 3D contouring.

Customers also have the option of using more than three axes in 3D part
creation. 4th Axis milling usually describes situations where a rotary table is
involved in the cutting process in addition to the X, Y and Z axes. The 4th
axis can be used for full contouring with other axes, indexing, or flipping a
part over. You will most often need a CAM program equipped with 4th axis
capabilities to create a tool path for any part you plan on cutting using a
rotary table. 5th axis adds one more dimension than the 4th axis. It is
typically a rotary table on top of the 4th axis rotary table, otherwise known
as a trunnion. It can also be a spindle that swivels. 5th axes are used for
more intricate parts where undercuts are prevalent.