Using 4th axis as indexer

Is there a way to use a 4th axis as an indexer with aspire or other software (excluding F360). I’m getting back on my 4th and I’d like to know if anyone in the forum does this. Also is there a way to do true 4th axis milling? Aspire takes the Y axis and wraps it around the A axis that means the y axis does not move during a rotary op, but true 4 axis would use xyza together which could then deal with undercuts and such. I’ve attached Nefertiti which just finished in Mahogany. It is about 11 inch tall and was cut from a 6" round.


It doesn’t look like Aspire supports 3+1 machining. Would it work to create several setups with the model rotated between setups and insert a G0 A# command at the top of each file?

A possible lead:

Here’s a walk-through I enjoyed reading. He uses F360, but maybe something there will be helpful.

Thanks for the info, so it is called 3+1 machining… I will have to do a search on that. I also saw a program called Deskproto that was able to use 3+1. thanks again.


True 4 axis is exceptionally expensive. Before F360 it was a $50k add-on to HSM (not sure if that price quote was yearly or by version). Since Autodesk owns HSM now you can get true 4 axis in F360. It is extra cloud credits unlockable.

The way you do this is you use 5 axis milling and inhibit the 5th axis.

F360 will also allow you to do the regular 3 axis milling with the X axis being the rotary which is the same thing as Deskproto (which I have used for many years before F360 brought multi-axis milling to the poor folks :rofl: )

But, what doesn’t cost extra is using F360 to do indexed cuts. Set the 4th axis to an index, cut, set to a new index, cut again. That would be set up in the def for the stock. Personally I have never tried that but its an option and the secret sauce there is YOU add the 4th axis Gcode to set the index.

I use F360 and my 4th axis as an “active” indexer and it is really easy.

Do your setup selecting your center of rotation point for zero, and set your WCS for however you want it for A =0

After that in your tool path setup on the geometry tab, check “Tool Orientation” and I use Z and X . Define the new Z + and X+ and use the “setup WCS origin” for the original (it is the center of rotation so it is not changing)

Use solid model geometry for selecting Z and X or create sketch geometry to select.

I will create one 3D adaptive path for one side to rough cut. Then just duplicate /copy that path and edit to change the “Tool Orientation” and it is really quick to program multiple sides that way. Will do same thing for finish paths if they fit for more than one side. Doing this all with only one “Setup” in F360.

No it’s not LIVE 4 axis machining, but I could machine the head figure with no problems with this method and the programming is not take a lot of effort once you start duplicating tool paths and make edits.

Well loren you make it sound like I need to have another look at f360. When I first got into cnc I installed fusion and not knowing anything it was very hard to learn, I found aspire and never went back. Thanks for your response, I’ll give f360 another try now that I know what a toolpath is now… lol


This was cut on my rotary.

Reach out if I can help with the F360.

nicely done! I’m gonna start watching some f360 vids.

well I just installed the personal ver of f360, man it feels like I’m startin from scratch with this program…

That is awesome!! The details are amazing!!

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Yes, one bite at a time, just like an elephant.


I started with f360 also and it kicked my butt. I moved to VcarvePro and so far so good! MUCH easier to learn. My thought also of returning to 360 one day after i knew more. Gun stocks and such would be super cool! Yours, Loren, is awesome.


If you have questions, ping me. I know its a huge leap for you but it will greatly expand your abilities.

I have licenses for other very expensive software and I don’t use them anymore. F360 has pretty much become my one stop app. I know this isn’t in your area of interest but for me I can do my PCB design and milling from the same program I do my 3D printing and CNC machining. Its pretty much seamless now flipping between those very diverse aspects of CAD/CAM and it just isn’t possible with any other app. My projects have this polish that makes me look at it and ask, “did I do that?”

That said, it’s got some weird quirks, some bugs every now and then. It’s not perfect but I think its worth the subscription price. Especially when you get to complex multi-axis machining that you can “rent for the day.” The alternatives are outrageously expensive, still, in 2023!