3 axis vs 5 axis CNC | A Comprehensive Comparison

CNC machines are shaping our future and evolving in this process. Better machines enable complex design production but at higher costs. In this trade-off, we bring a 3 axis vs 5 axis CNC machine comparison for you to decide better.

Why Are CNC Machines So Important?

Aerospace, automotive, and even medical, any industry you can name, is currently challenging the current CNC setup. As all industries evolve. They develop more complex product designs using new materials to achieve better results.

These complex designs and new materials need better, more complex CNC machines. They offer quality production but at an increased cost. So, for a manufacturer, it's a trade-off between cost and manufacturing abilities. To be on top of this business, they have to balance both.

So, we bring you a comprehensive comparison of a 3 axis vs 5 axis CNC machine. Enabling you to know, compare, and decide what type of CNC machine would be better for your business.

What Does the Axis of a CNC Machine Mean?

Before a comparison, to know what a 5 axis CNC machine and a 3 axis CNC machine are. The axis of a machine means the directions in which a machine tool or table can move. It's also known as the degree of freedom of a machine.

So, a five axis CNC machine can move or rotate its tool or table in five directions. A 5 axis CNC machine can move its tool or table in three linear and two rotational directions. At the same time, a 3 axis CNC machine can move its tool or table in only three linear directions.

Comparing 3 axis vs 5 axis CNC Machines

Comparing 3 axis vs 5 axis CNC machines is more than just understanding the axis of the machine. It's more about machine working, capabilities, efficiency, and cost of operation.

Working with 3-axis and 5-axis CNC Machines

If we consider a 3 axis milling machine and a 5 axis milling machine for comparison, the working of both machines are similar. Both 3 axis and 5 axis milling machines have a rotating tool that cuts a workpiece mounted on the machine table. 

The table movement makes a difference in the operation of a 3 axis versus a 5 axis milling machine. In a 3 axis milling machine, the table can linearly move in three axes. It can move left & right, forward & backward, and up & down concerning the tool.

In a 5 axis milling machine, the table can move in all three directions. In addition to that, it can also rotate along two axes called the axis of rotation of the table. That makes the table move in a total of five directions.

So, in working, a 3 axis milling machine is simpler than a 5 axis milling machine. At the same time, the range of operation of 5 axis milling machines is greater than that of 3 axis milling machines.

Ease in Operating a CNC Machine

If we consider the operation of a CNC machine, the operating procedure of both machines is almost similar. Both machines need a computer numeric code called G and M codes for operation.

The coding tells the machine how fast to rotate its tool and how to move its table. A 3 axis CNC machine only needs instructions to move tables in three axes. Whereas the 5 axis CNC machine needs codes to instruct table movement in five axes.

So, operating a 3 axis milling machine seems easier than a 5 axis milling machine. The code needed for 3 axis machines is simpler and easier to develop than for a 5 axis machine.

It is necessary to mention that with software that generates CNC codes from product CAD models. The process of developing the G and M codes is simplified.

Capabilities of 3-axis vs 5-axis CNC

If we consider the ability of a machine to manufacture a complicated design. Complicated designs of products have very complex features. Thus, they need machines that can execute a series of operations to machines that design.

In this perspective, a 5 axis milling machine can execute more complex designs. A 5 axis CNC can move its table in three axes at the same time. It can move its table up while making it to the left and also rotating it.

These features of the 5 axis CNC machine truly enable it to execute some very complex and hard-to-machine designs. Compared to this, a 3 axis CNC machine only moves its table in two directions. It can move its table upward while making it move left.

So, the capabilities of a 5 axis CNC machine are better and more capable than a 3 axis CNC machine.

Accuracy in Machining Products

If we consider the ability of the machine to manufacture a product with highly accurate dimensions. Then both machines can deliver products with highly accurate dimensions. The difference here lies in the complexity of the design.

If the product design is moderately complex, then both 3 axis milling machines and 5-axis milling machines can deliver the same accuracy. If the design is very complex and needs machining of material at several angles to get the required features. Then the 5 axis CNC machine will give better accuracy than the 3 axis CNC machine. 

The reason is that there are two more rotational axes available to the 5 axis CNC. That allows it to machine features in a better, more accurate, and efficient manner when compared to a 3 axis machine.

It is important here to mention that the accuracy of the machine depends a lot on the machine's brand, maintenance, and labor coding skills. It also partially depends on the product material type and cutting tool condition.

Maintenance of CNC Machines

Every machine has maintenance requirements, and so do CNC machines. In this regard, if we consider the number of mechanisms and how the machine moves, it becomes obvious that the 5 axis CNC machine has more mechanisms. Its parts have greater degrees of freedom, and its table can move and rotate in complex ways.

In a 3 axis CNC machine, there are only three main mechanisms. Its table has a limitation of linear degrees of freedom, and it can only move in three directions linearly. So, a 3 axis milling machine is a bit simpler than the 5 axis milling.

Due to this, we can assume that the maintenance requirements of a 5 axis machine could be more than a 3 axis machine. Note that the actual maintenance requirements of a machine depend on its make and model.

One specific CNC machine model or brand might have higher maintenance requirements than another.

Cost-Effectiveness of Projects

In the CNC machining business, the cost at which a manufacturer can machine and deliver a product is important. If a business does not offer competitive rates compared to the market, it will be difficult for them to get continuous work.

In the CNC machining industry, the cost of the project includes the initial investment, operational cost, material cost, and delivery cost. For any given project, material and delivery costs do not depend on the machine type and work.

Considering the initial investment involved, it can be clearly said that any 5 axis CNC machine would be more expensive than a 3 axis machine. This is because 5 axis machines are bigger and more complex. These machines need very complex and dedicated electronics. They also have very complex software specifically made for them.

Regarding the operation cost of the machine or any specific project, this cost will be the most important one because it affects every product you make. Unlike the initial setup cost that reduces as the number of products increases, the process cost is calculated for each product because it involves labor hours.

5 axis CNC machines and their operations are more complex, so they need operators with better skills. So, the labor cost to run a 5 axis milling machine will be more than the 3 axis milling. A 5 axis CNC might need less time to machine a product. So, it also depends on the design of the product.

So, from a general perspective, a 5 axis CNC machine operation can cost more than a 3 axis machine. The overall cost of the project will depend on several other factors.

Concluding 3 axis vs 5 axis CNC Comparison

Based on the above-made comparison, it can be said that 5 axis CNC machines are better in terms of their ability to work, process complex designs, and accuracy. At the same time, a 3 axis CNC is easier to operate and might deliver simpler products at a lower cost.

So, it's better to understand your needs and set your priorities keeping in view the comparison we have just delivered.

Sheet Metal Bending: A Comprehensive Guide

Sheet metal bending is a crucial process in metal fabrication, offering versatility in creating various components and structures. 

This technique involves deforming a flat sheet of metal into a specific shape or profile through the application of force. The process is widely used across industries due to its efficiency, precision, and cost-effectiveness. 

In this article, we will explore the different aspects of sheet metal bending, including types, design considerations, materials, process aspects, applications, advantages, disadvantages, and essential tips.

1. Different Types of Sheet Metal Bending

1.1 V-Bending

V-bending is a common technique that uses a V-shaped die and punch to bend the metal sheet. This method is suitable for creating simple angular bends, making it a preferred choice for various applications in manufacturing and construction.

1.2 Air Bending

Air bending involves using a punch to force the metal into a bottom die, allowing for flexibility in adjusting the bend angle without changing the tooling. This method is known for its versatility, enabling the production of a wide range of part geometries.

1.3 Bottoming

Bottoming, also known as coin-die bending, involves bending the sheet metal until it contacts the bottom of the die, producing a sharp angle. This method is advantageous for achieving precise angles but may require more force compared to other bending techniques.

1.4 Wipe Bending

Wipe bending employs a wiping die to gradually form the sheet metal into the desired shape, making it suitable for complex profiles. This method is particularly effective for creating curved and irregular bends with high accuracy.

1.5 Roll Bending

Roll bending utilizes a set of rolls to gradually bend the sheet metal into a cylindrical or conical shape. This technique is commonly used in the production of pipes, tubes, and cylindrical components, offering a versatile solution for various applications.

1.6 Rotary Draw Bending

Rotary draw bending involves clamping the sheet metal on both sides and rotating it around a die, creating precise bends. This method is widely used for producing tight-radius bends and is favored in applications where accuracy is crucial.

2. Different Design Aspects of Sheet Metal Bending

2.1 Sheet Metal Bend Radius

The bend radius is a critical design aspect, influencing the metal's flexibility and the tooling required for the bending process. Choosing the appropriate bend radius is essential for achieving the desired shape without compromising material integrity.

2.2 Bending Corner Radius

The bending corner radius determines the sharpness of the bend and is essential for achieving specific geometries. Selecting the right corner radius ensures that the final product meets design specifications and provides the required structural integrity.

2.3 Bending Directions

Understanding different bending directions is crucial for designing complex shapes and achieving accurate results. Designers must consider the sequence and direction of bends to avoid interference and ensure the manufacturability of the part.

2.4 Position Alignments

Proper alignment of the metal sheet in the bending machine ensures consistent and accurate bends. Precision in positioning is vital to achieving uniform results, minimizing waste, and ensuring the efficiency of the manufacturing process.

2.5 Blank Sheet Profiles

Choosing the right blank sheet profile is essential for achieving the desired final product with minimal waste. Optimal material utilization is key to cost-effective production, and designers should carefully consider the shape and size of the initial sheet.

3. Different Materials That can Process

Sheet metal bending is a versatile process applicable to various materials:

  • Steel
  • Stainless Steels
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass

4. Some Process Aspects to Consider

4.1 Shapes

The complexity of the final shape influences the choice of bending technique and tooling. Simple shapes may be suitable for air bending, while intricate designs may require more sophisticated methods like rotary draw bending.

4.2 Size

The size of the metal sheet impacts the choice of bending machine and the feasibility of the bending process. Larger sheets may require more robust equipment and careful consideration of material handling.

4.3 Thickness

Material thickness is a critical factor affecting the bending process and the required force. Thicker sheets may necessitate more substantial equipment and higher tonnage press brakes to achieve the desired bends.

4.4 Tolerances

Maintaining precise tolerances is crucial for meeting design specifications and ensuring the quality of the final product. Close attention to tolerances is essential, especially in applications where components must fit together seamlessly.

4.5 Allowances

Considering material allowances helps compensate for springback, ensuring the final part matches the intended design. Accounting for material behavior during bending is crucial for achieving accurate dimensions and avoiding costly rework.

5. Applications of Sheet Metal Bending


Sheet metal bending is extensively used in the automotive industry for crafting components like body panels, brackets, and frames, showcasing the adaptability of this process in manufacturing vehicles.


Precision and strength are paramount in aerospace applications, where sheet metal bending is employed to shape parts for aircraft structures, ensuring a balance between durability and weight.


Sheet metal bending is crucial in electronics manufacturing, creating casings, enclosures, and brackets for electronic devices, combining functionality with a sleek and compact design.


In construction, sheet metal bending plays a role in shaping materials for roofing, cladding, and structural components, offering durability and resistance to environmental conditions.


The furniture industry benefits from sheet metal bending for crafting metal frames, brackets, and decorative elements, providing both structural integrity and aesthetic appeal.

6. Advantages of Sheet Metal Bending

Cost-effective for mass production

Sheet metal bending facilitates efficient mass production, reducing production costs through quick and precise manufacturing processes.

High precision and repeatability

The process ensures consistent and accurate results, allowing manufacturers to achieve high precision and repeatability in the production of complex components.

Versatility in creating complex shapes

Sheet metal bending allows for the creation of intricate and complex shapes, providing designers with the flexibility to meet diverse requirements in various industries.

Efficient use of materials

The efficiency of material usage in sheet metal bending contributes to cost savings, minimizing waste and ensuring economical utilization of resources.

7. Disadvantages of Sheet Metal Bending

Limited to certain material thicknesses

The bending process has limitations in handling extremely thick materials, requiring alternative fabrication methods for heavy-duty applications.

Setup costs for tooling can be high

Initial setup costs for tooling and machinery can be a barrier, particularly for small-scale productions, impacting the feasibility of sheet metal bending for certain projects.

Possibility of springback affecting accuracy 

Springback, the tendency of the metal to return to its original shape after bending, can pose challenges in maintaining precise dimensions, necessitating careful consideration in the design phase.

8. Tips on Sheet Metal Bending

Understand material properties

A comprehensive understanding of the material's characteristics, such as elasticity and ductility, is crucial for achieving accurate and predictable bends.

Proper tooling maintenance

Regular maintenance of bending tools ensures consistent performance, extends tool life, and reduces the likelihood of defects in the final product.

Account for springback in design

Designers should anticipate springback effects and incorporate adjustments in the design to compensate for dimensional changes during and after the bending process.

Use accurate measuring tools

Precise measurements are vital for achieving the desired specifications, and the use of accurate measuring tools contributes to the overall quality of the bent components.

9. Different Sheet Metal Bending Machines

Various bending machines are used in sheet metal fabrication, including:

Press brakes

Commonly used for precision bending, press brakes apply force to the metal sheet, forming accurate bends through the use of punches and dies.

Roll bending machines

These machines employ rolls to gradually bend the metal sheet into cylindrical or conical shapes, suitable for applications like pipe and tube manufacturing.

Rotary draw benders

Ideal for achieving tight-radius bends, rotary draw benders clamp the sheet metal on both sides and rotate it around a die to produce precise bends.

Folding machines

Folding machines bend the sheet metal by clamping and folding it along a straight axis, offering efficiency in producing components with linear bends.

Custom sheet metal enclosures - All you need to know

Custom sheet metal enclosures and cases are specialized containers or protective housings made from sheet metal materials to house and protect electronic components, equipment, or other sensitive devices.

These enclosures are designed to meet specific requirements, dimensions, and functionalities according to the needs of the application. 

Sheet metal fabrication processes are commonly used to manufacture these enclosures due to the material's durability, strength, and flexibility.

Here are some key aspects of custom sheet metal enclosures and cases

Custome Sheet Metal Enclosures Materials

Sheet Metal: Common materials used include aluminum, steel, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. The choice of material depends on factors such as the application environment, budget constraints, and required durability.

Enclosures Fabrication Processes

Sheet Metal Cutting 

Laser cutting, waterjet cutting, or traditional methods are used to shape the sheet metal into the desired form.

Sheet Metal Bending

Precision bending machines are employed to create the necessary angles and shapes in the metal.

Sheet Metal Welding

Welding is used to join different pieces of sheet metal, creating a seamless and sturdy enclosure.

Sheet Metal Surface Finishing

Processes like powder coating, painting, or anodizing are applied for aesthetics, corrosion resistance, and durability.

Custome Sheet Metal Enlsousre Design Considerations

Size and Dimensions: Custom enclosures are designed to accommodate the specific size and shape requirements of the electronic components or devices they house.

Ventilation: Adequate ventilation may be incorporated to prevent overheating of enclosed components.

Access Points: The design may include features such as hinged doors, removable panels, or sliding sections for easy access to the internal components.

Customization of Enclosure

Cutouts and Openings: Custom openings for connectors, displays, switches, and other interfaces can be included based on the application's needs.

Branding: Logos, labels, or other branding elements can be added to the enclosure.

Custom Sheet Metal Enclosure Applications

Electronics: Custom enclosures are commonly used to house electronic devices, control panels, power supplies, and other sensitive equipment.

Industrial Equipment: Enclosures are used to protect machinery and instruments in industrial settings.

Medical Devices: Medical equipment often requires specialized enclosures to ensure hygiene and protection.

Enclosure Cost Considerations

The cost of custom sheet metal enclosures can vary based on the chosen materials, fabrication processes, and level of customization required.

When opting for custom sheet metal enclosures, it's essential to work closely with a manufacturer or fabricator to ensure that the final product meets the specific requirements and standards of the intended application. 

Customization allows for precise tailoring to the unique needs of the equipment or device being enclosed.

Mill-turn Machining Process

Mill-turn machining process is one that combines both turning and milling operations in a single machine tool. This means that two different turning and milling machines will not be required. This integration allows for the creation of complex parts and components in a more efficient and streamlined manner.

Why Consider Mill-Turn Machining?

Why should we consider Mill-turn machining over conventional turning and milling machining? There are three main reasons why you should consider mill-turn machining.

  • Enhanced Precision
  • Increased Efficiency
  • Complex Geometries

Enhanced Precision

A mill-turn machining process combines the working of a turning and milling machine   into a single machine. This integration allows for exceptional precision and accuracy in manufacturing parts. The ability to perform different machining processes in a single machine and without repositioning the workpiece increases precision and minimizes all types of errors.

Increased Efficiency

The mill-turn machining process reduces the production time and manufacturing cost by  eliminating  the need of switching parts from machine to machine and changing tools to produce different shapes on a single part. This streamlined process enhances overall efficiency, leading to faster production cycles and quicker time to market for components.

Complex Geometries

Products often has intricate design and complex geometry. Mill-turn machining is best for handling complexities, enabling the production of intricate features, pockets, and contours with ease. This makes it an ideal choice for manufacturing products with diverse shapes and configurations.

Difficulties in Mill-turn Machining

Altho mill-turn machining is an extremely efficient and cost effective machining process it has difficulties of its own. Following are some of the difficulties you can face while mill-turn machining products.

As mill-turn machining combines turning and milling operation in a single process so it's a bit difficult to understand the machining process as compared to simple turning and milling

Due to the complexity of the process the CNC machine codes or can see programming complexity is much higher when compared to the  CNC machining center and CNC milling Centre programming complexity.

Cutting tool management and the work peace movement  is much more Complex when compared to turning and milling. Any small mistake during the machining process will make the entire process and work peace useless.

Achieving seamless transitions between milling and turning operations without compromising precision can be demanding. Synchronizing tool changes, spindle speeds, and feed rates is critical to maintaining efficiency and part quality.

Due to programming complexity and a highly complex machining process the level of skilled workers needed for this process is also very high. It's difficult to find workers with a skill set good enough for this process. 

What to Consider Before Selecting Mill-Turn Machining Service Provider

Setting the mill-turn machining process for your product is one thing and selecting the service provider for your product manufacturing is another. While selecting the mill-turn machining service provider one should consider the following points

Machining capabilities

you should consider the machining capabilities of the service provider what type of Machines does the service provider have or what I of processes  they can perform effectively 

Serial capability

you should consider the material  machining capabilities of the service provider.  what type of material does the service provider can machine effectively 

Programming Capabilities

you should consider the service provider workers programming capabilities to execute the machining. Service providers should have skilled programmers with experience in mill-turn machining to optimize the programming process and maximize the efficiency of the manufacturing workflow.

Quality Control

you should consider the machining service provider abilities to deliver quality work. Ask for their quality control process and techniques to verify dimensional accuracy and adherence to specifications.

How to Select Best Cabin Air Filter

Similar to an engine air filter that prevents debris and dust particles from entering the engine, a cabin air filter is very important for the healthy environment within the passenger compartment of a vehicle. A cabin air filter is the first and the most important component of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system of a vehicle. 

A good cabin air filter does not allow soot particles, exhaust gasses, bacteria and other allergens, air pollutants, or foul and unpleasant odors, and keeps an appropriate amount of air circulation from the vehicle’s cabin. 

Without a properly working cabin air filter, the air inside of a vehicle’s passenger compartment is prone and susceptible to be polluted with several harmful particles and gasses which will put the life of passengers in danger. 

Therefore, a properly working cabin air filter is extremely important for the health and safety of passengers.

How to Select Best Cabin Air Filter

Primarily, a cabin air filter is designed to filter out harmful pollutants and foul odors from entering the heating and air conditioning system of a vehicle. But several factors should be considered before choosing a cabin air filter for a vehicle. These factors have been discussed below one by one.

1. Types of Air Filters available

There are the following types of cabin air filters available in the market. Each of them has a few pros and cons over the other. A better choice can be made according to the specific requirements and conditions. 

1.1 Charcoal or Activated Carbon Air Filter

This type of filter is also known as an activated charcoal air filter. An activated carbon filter has a bed of activated carbon in granular form and has millions of tiny pores. 

The filter prevents the entry of foul and unpleasant odors through the process of absorption. In this process, the molecules of incoming dirty air stick with the surface of charcoal molecules, and pure air enters the system. 

The major advantage of this type of filter is its ability to capture volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Whereas one of the main disadvantages of this type of filter is its inability to filter dust and other particles.

1.2 Baking Soda Air Filter

Another type of air filter that is known as baking soda air filter uses the ability of baking soda to neutralize foul and unpleasant odors. The baking soda reacts with the molecules of incoming odors and dirty air and neutralizes them chemically.

1.3 HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Cabin filters 

HEPA air filters are a very common and famous type of air filter available in the market. These are a kind of pleated mechanical filter that can capture dust and other particles from entering the HVAC system of a vehicle. The prime disadvantage of HEPA filters is their inability to capture foul and unpleasant odors.

2. Filter Efficiency rating

There are different types of standards and ratings used to evaluate the performance and capability of the air filter to block different particles and foul odors.

2.1 MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values) Rating

MERV rating is the most common rating standard amongst all the other standards and has been recognized and acknowledged by different filter manufacturers. 

It has been developed based on some experimental tests devised by the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers). The MERV rating ranks a filter on a level from 1 to 16 based on its ability to restrict a particle of a specific size to pass through it. 

A filter with a rating above 8 is considered to be a good filter whereas the filter with a rating near 15 or 16 is remarked as the best filter amongst those being compared. 

2.2 MPR (Microparticle Performance Rating)

MPR rating has been developed by 3M company to rate the filter's ability to trap different air particles of size less than 1 micron. A filter with a rating above 600 MPR is considered good for normal dust and pollen particle trapping.  

2.3 FPR (Filter Performance Rating)

This standard has been developed and devised by Home Depot Company to rank the filters based on their ability to prevent different pollutants from passing through them. The rating standard starts from 4 and ends at 10. A filter with a rating between 4 and 5 is considered to be a good filter.

2.4 Beta Ratios

Another standard for rating the performance of an air filter is the beta rating. Beta rating is different from other rating standards in a way that it is an absolute standard rather than a relative one. This rating is based on the Multipass Method for assessing the performance of a filter element. 

In this standard of rating, the amount of particles of a specific size (in microns) upstream of the filter and the number of particles downstream of the filter is obtained, and based on these values, the beta ratio of a filter is calculated. 

A filter with a beta ratio of 20 is considered to be good whereas a filter with a beta rating of 1000 is considered the best among all the filters being analyzed.

3. Filter Durability

The durability of a filter is an important characteristic and must be assessed before choosing a cabin air filter from the available options. A filter can be made of carbon, aluminum, fiberglass, foam, paper, and plastic. 

It is very obvious to note that the filter made up of aluminum and other metals such as steel are amongst the most durable. Furthermore, a filter made up of pleated or folded material is more durable and has a significantly longer working life.

4. Replacement Interval

The replacement of a cabin air filter is usually associated with the mileage of the vehicle. The replacement interval may stretch or contract based on the outside environment, type, and quality of the cabin air filter. 

A cabin air filter normally needs to be changed every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. However, the replacement interval may vary with the intensity of its usage. HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters have comparatively longer replacement intervals than activated carbon intervals.

5. Price

There is a wide variety of cabin air filters that are available in the market. The price of a cabin air filter changes with the change in the car’s model and manufacturer. 

Both HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) and activated carbon air filters are easily available in the market. Activated carbon air filters are cheaper than HEPA filters but the HEPA filters are more efficient in controlling the dust particles entering the heating and air conditioning system of a vehicle.

6. Filter Design and Material

Cabin air filters or generally speaking air filters are made from a wide range of materials. Cabin air filters are usually made from fiberglass (non-pleated) or fiber-based cotton and paper-based materials. Older cabin air filters were round and had both pleated and un-pleated construction. 

But nowadays, cabin air filters are straight and in most cases have pleated or folded structures to increase their surface area to capture pollutants. Furthermore, a cabin air filter has layers of material one behind the other to capture the pollutants layer by layer. 

They are made in such a way that the largest particles are trapped on the outside layer and the smallest particles are filtered out in the interior layer. Therefore, it is a wise decision to buy a pleated and strongly meshed cabin air filter to obtain optimal performance and results.

7. Airflow restriction

A cabin air filter has a porous surface or surfaces that allow air to pass through them easily and restrict the entry of pollutants and other unwanted particles. 

A new or properly cleaned cabin air filter performs its job quite efficiently but with the usage, a cabin air filter will be full of dust and other particles entrapped in its pores. 

Therefore an old cabin air filter may restrict the airflow and hence can deteriorate the performance of the entire heating and air conditioning system. 

Furthermore, a highly rated cabin air filter on any standard such as MERV, MPR, FPR, or Beta might restrict the airflow as well because the size of filter pores decreases with the increase in its rating. 

8. Noise Generation

Noise generation is not a very common phenomenon that you would encounter while dealing with cabin air filters. A suitable cabin air filter according to the model and the make of the car will not produce any noticeable or audible noise. 

If an activated carbon cabin air filter is making noise, you might need to replace it as they are not reusable usually. On the other hand, HEPA filters can be cleaned to reduce noise.

The problem of noise generation in a cabin air filter might raise due to the following factors

If the cabin air filter is not clean, then it won’t allow air to pass through it easily and you may hear a detestable or whistling sound from the filter.

An old or improperly fitted cabin air filter can also generate blowing noise when the air passes through or beside it. Hence, keeping in view the aforementioned points, the selection of the best cabin air filter may vary from situation to situation.

What is an Engine Air Filter : Complete Beginner Guide

An internal combustion engine needs air and fuel in proper proportions known as stoichiometric ratios, to carry out the combustion process which generates the required amount of energy to drive the vehicle from one place to another. 

The overall efficiency of an engine is strongly dependent on how the combustion is taking place and the quality and quantity of air defines the quality of combustion. Engine must be supplied with clean and sufficient air for proper combustion. 

This is where the engine air filter plays a vital role in providing clean air for combustion. To know your car best you should know what is an engine air filter? What does engine air filter do? its types, location and how often to change it.

Engine air filter
Engine air filter

What is an Engine Air Filter?

An engine air filter is an important part of an engine that restricts the entry of dust and debris into the engine cylinder where the combustion takes place. It comes in various shapes and sizes and can be made of different materials such as paper, foam or cotton. 

Engine air filters made of paper are the most common amongst all other types as they are efficient and have lower cost compared to other available filter types. The shape and size of an engine air filter changes with the make and model of a vehicle but it is usually made rectangular or cylindrical. 

Furthermore, an engine air filter is made in a pleated or folded shape to increase its area to capture the dust and debris and manage the required flow of the air.

engine air filter
Engine Air Filter

What Does an Engine Air Filter Do?

A clean and quality air inside an engine cylinder is extremely important to maintain the quality of combustion, increase the fuel efficiency, enhance the engine power, increase the engine’s life, and reduce the discharge of unburnt hydrocarbons at the exhaust of an engine. 

An engine air filter is installed at the suction side of an engine and it stops dust and other unwanted particles from entering the combustion area of the engine i.e. cylinders. 

These unwanted filtered particles are collected at the pleated or folded surface of the filter and are usually cleaned after regular intervals to let the air flow properly through the engine air filter. 

If a filter is not clean or clogged with dust and debris, it will restrict the airflow through itself which will decrease the efficiency of the engine.

Types of Engine Air Filter? 

There are several types of engine air filter available in the market. The use of a specific air filter is dependent on the type of vehicle, its model and driving conditions. 

Shape of an Engine Air Filter

An engine air filter can be classified as rectangular and cylindrical based on its shape. A cylindrical engine air filter has a shape like a cylinder whose both ends are open. Such filters offer large surface area and have compact size which enables them to fit into tight spaces in an engine. 

Whereas a rectangular engine air filter with one or both ends open is more common than cylindrical shaped air filters. It must also be noted that some engine air filters may have unique shapes or features to fit specific engine configurations or to optimize airflow and filtration efficiency.

Material of an Engine Air Filter

An engine air filter can be made from different materials such as paper, foam, cotton or any appropriate synthetic material. Paper air filters usually made of PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) fiber are the most common amongst all the air filters. 

Foam air filters are made of polyurethane and can be reused up to several times. Cotton gauze air filters made up of multiple layers of cotton gauze are considered to be the most efficient engine air filters and are usually used in high-performance vehicles. 

Oil-bath engine air filters are also available in the market and are most suitable for dust-laden environmentsFurthermore, most of the engine air filters are made pleated or folded to increase their surface area but non-pleated engine air filters have also been used. 

Similarly, most of the engine air filters can be reused after cleaning whereas few of them always need to be replaced after a certain amount of time or mileage of the vehicle.

Location of an Engine Air Filter?

Location of an engine air filter in a vehicle does not change greatly with the change in the model or the manufacturer of the vehicle. Front engine vehicles are the most common amongst all modern vehicles therefore an engine air filter should be looked under the hood of a vehicle. 

An engine air filter is usually very easy to locate. Lift the bonnet of your vehicle, and search for engine air filter housing. Air filter housing is usually a black box on the top or toward the side (right side preferably) of the engine. 

The air filter housing box usually has a tube connected to it which makes it easy to locate the engine air filter housing in a vehicle.

On the other hand, mid-engine and rear-engine vehicles are less common but in that case engine air filters will not be found under the hood but must be looked at within the engine area.

How often to change engine air filter?

Like any other part of an engine, an engine air filter has a working life after which its performance curve starts to go down. So how often to change engine air filter? An overused air filter will not be able to allow the incoming air to enter the engine easily due to its clogged surface which will affect the performance of the engine. 

Different types of engine air filters made of different materials are available and their working life span is not similar to each other. The life of an engine air filter also depends on various factors such as driving conditions, environment, and the quality of the filter. 

In general, paper air filters are designed to last between 10,000 to 15,000 miles (16,000 to 24,000 kilometers) under normal driving conditions. 

To replace filter with new one we recommend to buy the best one after complete search of engine air filter. An engine air filter made of cotton is washable and reusable and typically has a longer lifespan compared to a paper filter. 

Depending on the quality of the filter and driving conditions, a cotton air filter can last up to 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) or more before needing to be cleaned and re-oiled, which can extend the filter's life even further. 

However, it's essential to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and re-oiling to ensure that the filter is functioning correctly and not causing any damage to the engine.

Similarly, engine air filters made of foam are also durable and long-lasting, but their lifespan can vary depending on the quality of the filter and driving conditions. 

Foam filters are also designed to be washable and reusable, and with proper maintenance and cleaning, they can last for several years or more.

Concluding the Engine Air Filter

Now you know what deliver a clean air to your engine for combustion. You should change your cabin air filter as and when required with a compatible and recommended engine air filter.

How to Clean a Cabin Air Filter

A cabin air filter like an engine filter is responsible to restrict the entry of several pollutants such as dust particles, allergens, and pollen particles into the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system of a vehicle to ensure the health and safety of passengers. Therefore, a cabin air filter must stay clean 

Like any other part of a machine, the performance of a cabin air filter deteriorates over time of its usage. This happens because pollutants and other debris get clogged up in the pores of a cabin air filter. 

Hence, if a filter is not clean it must be replaced or in some cases can be cleaned and reused to let the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system of a vehicle operate at their peak ability. We will discuss the chances of reusing a cabin air filter, How to inspect cabin air filter, and how to clean a cabin air filter in this article.

Can we reuse a cabin air filter?

A cabin air filter is a very important part or component of the heating ventilation and air conditioning system of a vehicle

A dusty or clogged cabin air filter will not allow the required amount of airflow into the system which will lower the efficiency and the performance of both the engine and heating ventilation and air conditioning system of a vehicle. Therefore, a cabin air filter must be checked periodically for its condition. 

Two types of cabin air filters are available in the market i.e. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) and activated carbon or activated charcoal air filter. HEPA is a kind of mechanical air filter whereas activated carbon air filters are chemically reactive cabin air filters. 

Both HEPA and activated carbon cabin air filters can be reused but there it is important to note that the effectiveness of an activated carbon cabin air filter will decrease over time as the activated carbon becomes saturated with impurities. 

However, the condition of an activated carbon cabin air filter will depend on several factors such as the frequency of use, the type of contaminants in the air, and the size of the filter. 

Similarly, a HEPA cabin air filter can be reused if it is not excessively dirty or damaged. If the HEPA cabin air filter is only slightly dirty, it can be cleaned and reused using several methods. 

However, most cabin air filters are designed to be disposable and should be replaced periodically to ensure optimal performance. Similar to the activated carbon cabin air filter, the condition of the filter depends on several factors, including driving conditions, climate, and usage.

How to inspect a cabin air filter?

A cabin air filter must be regularly checked for dirt and or any damage to it to avoid any complications in the heating and air conditioning system of a vehicle. A step-by-step DIY (do it yourself) procedure for analyzing a cabin air filter is given below.

Step 1: Locate the cabin air filter

A cabin air filter is typically located under the hood or behind the glove box of a vehicle. Most modern-day cars have their cabin air filter behind the glove box but the exact location of a cabin air filter can be determined using the vehicle’s maintenance manual. We will discuss the procedure

Step 2: Remove the filter

The second step is to remove the filter from its place. To do it, locate and loosen the screw that is keeping the glovebox in its place. One might also need to remove an additional band that also holds the glovebox. 

Take the cabin air filter out of its place carefully so that dust and debris don’t fall out from it. Once the cabin air filter has been located and found, it can be taken out by gently pressing the clips around it.

Step 3: Inspect the filter

Once the filter has been removed, check its condition carefully. There are three different types of tests you can perform to inspect car cabin air filters.

  • Visual Inspection Test
  • Sniff test
  • Blow test

Visual Inspection Test

This is done to inspect any physical damage or know the condition of the air filter due to dust and debris. Any damage to the body or too much dust stuck on the filter surface will result in replacement of the cabin air filter with a new one.

Sniff Test

As air filters block all types of foreign objects from entering into vehicle HVAC systems, there is a good chance that biodegradable things stuck on the filter surface will start to decompose or other objects will chemically react with filter material.

Sniff test will make sense of any bad material in the filter that is not possible with a visual inspection test.

Blow Test

With no physical damage on the filter surface and no bad odor, a cabin air filter can still go bad due to deep internal blockage. So a blow of pressurized air will help to check the flow of air through the air filter. 

Pressure needs to be moderate, not too high to damage the filter. You can even try to blow air by yourself with the help of any pipe that distance cabin air filter from your face.

If particles of dust or other debris are available in the filter, the filter should be cleaned or replaced. Furthermore, the pleats of the filter play an important role in capturing contaminants by increasing its surface area therefore pleats of the filter must be inspected properly to ensure that they're not clogged with dirt or debris.

On the other hand, a carbon-activated cabin air filter might not be replaced because these filters contain activated carbon and cannot be cleaned in the traditional ways, as washing or drying the filter would remove the activated carbon particles.

Step 4: Check for damage

The filter housing should also be observed for any damage such as wear and tear, holes, or worn edges. If the filter housing is damaged, it must be replaced immediately to avoid unwanted consequences because a damaged filter housing can’t be repaired.

Step 5: Check the size and shape

If the current underuse filter was not replaced under your supervision or by a professional person, check the rating and type of the filter carefully because a low-rated filter cannot stop unwanted pollutants from entering the HVAC system.

Step 6: Reinsert the filter

Once the inspection has been completed, reinsert the filter back into its place. Make sure to secure it properly and ensure that it's properly seated. If the filter is located behind the glove box, reattach the glove box before closing it.

How to clean a cabin air filter?

A cabin air filter can be cleaned and reused but it is very important to consult the vehicle’s manual and comprehend the filter’s specification before attempting the cleaning procedure to avoid any damage to the HVAC system of a vehicle. 

It should also be noted that a carbon-activated cabin air filter is not easy to clean because the activated-carbon particles may fall from the cabin air filter which will reduce its filtering efficiency.

Here are several methods on how to clean a cabin air filter which have been stated below.

Tap Method 

If a filter is in good condition and contains dust in its pleated or folded region, gently tap it to remove the available dust or debris.

Vacuum Method

If a cabin air filter is relatively more clogged with dirt and pollutants, a vacuum cleaner can be used to suck the dust out from it.

Soap and Water Method

A filter based on its specification and make can also be washed for its cleaning. Usually, a cabin air filter made of paper can only be replaced but some cloth-made filters are reusable and can stand up to a wash. To wash it, soak the cabin air filter in a solution of soap and water, then rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely.

Compressed Air Method

To blow the dust and debris out of a cabin air filter, pressurized or compressed air can also be used.

Cabin Air filter cleaning kit

Cleaning a cabin air filter using a filter cleaning kit can help improve the quality of air that enters your vehicle's cabin. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Park your vehicle in a well-ventilated area and turn off the engine.
  • Locate the cabin air filter. This is usually found under the dashboard, behind the glove compartment or in the engine compartment.
  • Remove the cabin air filter from its housing.
  • Follow the instructions on the filter cleaning kit to prepare the cleaning solution. Most filter cleaning kits come with a cleaner and a spray bottle.
  • Spray the cleaning solution on the filter, making sure to cover all areas of the filter. Allow the solution to soak in for a few minutes, as specified by the instructions on the kit.
  • Rinse the filter thoroughly with water. Make sure to remove all traces of the cleaning solution.
  • Allow the filter to dry completely before reinstalling it in its housing. Do not use any heat source to dry the filter, as this may damage it.
  • Reinstall the filter in its housing and make sure it is securely in place.

Start your vehicle and test the air flow from the vents. If the air flow seems to be restricted, you may need to repeat the cleaning process or replace the filter.

Last works on how to clean a cabin air filter

Your car cabin air filter must be kept clean and in proper working conditions to ensure clean air in your car cabin. To how to clean a cabin air filter, we recommend to use cabin air filter cleaner as they are best in their work.

How Often to Change Cabin Air Filter (with location and Procedure)

Like other parts of an engine or a running machinery, a cabin air filter also gets old with time and efficiency of its working reduces over the span of its usage. 

The replacement of the air filter is usually contingent with the mileage of the vehicle but the efficiency of the cabin air filter is also dependent upon the external environment

If the outside environment is more dusty or sandy, the cabin air filter will get old quickly. Hence, to increase the efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system of a vehicle and to avoid any damages to the system, replacing the cabin air filter is quite imperative.

How Often to Change Cabin Air Filter

A cabin air filter should be changed for every 12000 miles or after one year period. There are different types of cabin air filters based on their material, design and usage. Their expected useful life can vary. So it's better to inspect your cabin air filter for every 3000 miles or 3 months.

There are two main types of cabin air filter; reusable cabin air filter and single use cabin air filter. Reusable cabin air filters have much greater useful life than single use cabin air filters. So its all depends on the type of cabin air filter and its use.

Location Cabin Air Filter

Location cabin air filter varies based on brand, model and year of release. Some vehicles have it under the glovebox, some have it under the hood and some vehicles have cabin air filter under the dash board.

Following is a list of most used cars in USA and UK and their location cabin air filter behind glove box

  • Ford F-150 - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Honda CR-V - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, near the passenger-side windshield.
  • Chevrolet Silverado - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Toyota RAV4 - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the windshield.
  • Toyota Camry - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Mazda CX-5 - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the firewall.
  • Honda Civic - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Hyundai Elantra - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the windshield.
  • Nissan Altima - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Kia Sorento - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the windshield.
  • Honda Accord - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Subaru Impreza - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the firewall.
  • Toyota Corolla - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the firewall.
  • Ford Escape - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Nissan Rogue - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the firewall.
  • Ford Fusion - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Chevrolet Equinox - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the windshield.
  • Chevrolet Malibu - The cabin air filter is located behind the glove box.
  • Jeep Cherokee - The cabin air filter is located in the engine compartment, on the passenger side of the vehicle, near the windshield.

Please note that the location of the cabin air filter can vary depending on the year and model of the car. It is always recommended to consult the owner's manual or a certified mechanic to find the exact location of the cabin air filter in your specific vehicle.

How to change the Cabin Air Filter?

Replacement of the cabin air filter is usually an easy process and it does not take long. If you are doing it yourself (DIY work), it might take you 30-40 minutes to complete it. 

But you might be aware of the fact that the location of the cabin air filter and insulation of the ventilation and air conditioning system changes with the change in the model of a vehicle or vehicle’s manufacturer. 

Therefore, the time or the process of changing a cabin air filter might vary from case to case. But most of the vehicles have their cabin air filter located behind the glovebox. 

Therefore we will discuss the step by step procedure of changing the cabin air filter that is located behind the glovebox.

  • Open the glovebox and empty it completely by taking out everything.

  •  Locate the screw that is keeping the glovebox in its place. Use the commonly available screwdriver to open the screw, take the screw out and keep it in a safe location within or outside of your vehicle. 
  • Few vehicles come with a band that holds the glovebox in place that you may also need to release to disassemble the glovebox.

  • Press both sides of the glovebox gently and take it out of its place. This will expose the area behind the glovebox where the cabin air filter is located. 
  • Please avoid putting extra force on the glovebox to avoid the cracking of hinges.

  • Squeeze the tab on either side of the cabin air filter cover to remove it. Once the cover is removed, take out the old cabin air filter slowly as it might be full of dust particles that may fall out of it.
  • Check the housing for excessive or fallen out dirt and debris and vacuum them out if required.
  • Put the new filter in the housing and make sure that the arrow on the front of the cabin air filter points in the right direction.
  • Once the filter is seated in its place, reinstall its cover.

The last step of the replacement process is to take the glovebox and slide it into its original position and put the screw and band (if required) back in their place. At the end, close the glovebox and you are done.

Cabin Air Filter Replacement Cost

The replacement of the cabin air filter is not a hefty process and does not involve a large number of steps. But, the cost of replacing a cabin air filter depends upon many factors such as labor cost, location of the market where you are going to buy and get it replaced and the brand or manufacturer of the cabin air filter. 

A cabin air filter itself is not a very expensive item and the average price of an air filter may vary between $10 and $20 at a local market. You will be able to save the additional labor cost, if you are interested in carrying out the replacement as DIY (do it yourself) work. 

Whereas, if you go to a mechanic for the replacement then the cabin air filter replacement cost can be between $50 to $100 including filter cost. Furthermore, the labor cost is dependent upon the location of the cabin air filter in your vehicle and the location of the market where you are going to get the cabin air filter replaced. 

If the cabin air filter of your car is under the hood or behind the vehicle’s glovebox, the replacement will be easy and the labor cost will be less. Few of the cars have their cabin air filter under the dash which might make the replacement a bit hefty and the cost of replacement might go up. 

Furthermore, location of a mechanic's shop might also affect the replacement costs because markets downtown are comparatively more expensive than the markets that are in the suburban areas of a city.

What are the advantages of timely replacement of Cabin Air Filter?

Similar to the fact that an engine needs clean air to have proper combustion and power output, the passengers in the vehicle’s internal compartment also need fresh and clean air to stay comfortable and enjoy a healthy journey. 

A cabin air filter, similar to the filter at the engine air intake, is an extremely important part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system of a vehicle. A cabin air filter is installed at the start of the ducts that take outside air into the internal compartment of a vehicle. 

A timely replacement of cabin air filter have several advantages which are given below:

 A cabin air filter restricts the entry of several air pollutants such as bacteria, road soot, exhaust gasses and pollen particles into the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

Replacement of the cabin air filter will increase the amount of airflow into the passenger compartment of the vehicle which will enhance the efficiency of the vehicle's HVAC system to defrost, ventilate and air condition the vehicle and will make the environment inside the compartment comfortable.

A newly replaced cabin air filter will keep the inside environment of the vehicle fresh and free from any foul or unpleasant odor.

Increased airflow will not cause any harm to the people with allergies or any other health conditions.

What will happen if you don’t replace the Cabin Air Filter?

The main duty of a cabin air filter is to send fresh air into the passenger compartment of a vehicle. A newly bought cabin air filter is clean and void of dust particles whereas an old or overused air filter will get clogged up with dust particles and will be unable to perform its function in an inefficient way. More disadvantages of an old or overused cabin air filter are given below:

A cabin air filter filled up with impurities and dust will not allow enough fresh air to enter the passenger compartment of the vehicle and hence the amount of fresh incoming air to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system may decrease which will compromise the comfort of the passengers. 

Furthermore, the ability of the HVAC system of the vehicle to defrost, air condition and ventilate the vehicle might plummet as well.

An overused or old cabin air filter will cause a musty or unpleasant odor within the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

The window of the vehicle might fog up very easily from inside of the passenger’s compartment. This problem is very easily noticeable in the cold weather and the driver will face visibility problems.

People with specific health conditions such as allergy and asthma etc. might not be able to travel comfortably and the suffocating environment in the passenger’s compartment might also elevate their health conditions.