What is a CNC Router? (Buying Guide)

What is a CNC Router Machine?

CNC router machines also known as computer numerical control router machines is computer-controlled devices used to carve out or cut through hard materials like wood, plastic, aluminum, etc.

CNC routers have varying configurations, from large industrial CNC routers to small homemade routers.

Despite the presence of a varying range of configurations, all CNC routers have specific parts which are all highly essential in the top functioning of these machines;

  • A dedicated CNC controller.
  • Servo motors or stepper motors.
  • A workplace bed or table.
  • One or more spindle motors.
  • Linear gears.
  • Servo amplifiers.
  • Ac inverter frequency drives.
  •  Ball screws.

Additionally, to hold the parts in place for cutting, CNC routers may have vacuum pumps with grid table tops or t-slot holds down fixtures.

The CNC formats usually available in CNC routers are the 3-axis and 5- axis. A and B axis are usually made available by manufacturers for full 5 axis capabilities and rotary 4th axis. 4′ x 8′ and 5′ x 10.’ are the common industrial CNC router sizes.

CNC Router Machine Videos

Types of CNC Routers

When gathering the necessary information in order to purchase the right CNC router machine for you, it is important to take into account the various types of CNC routers.

There are four types of CNC router machines out there. Their differences lie in their sizes, weight, and use.

  1. Industrial CNC router machine: This is the most used type of CNC router. It is being used by many woodworkers for the mass production of signs, doors and other furniture. The accuracy and preciseness of this type of CNC router machine account for its popularity.
  1. Mid Range CNC Router Machine: The main difference between this type of CNC router and the industrial type if their weight and size.
  2. Hobby CNC router Machine: These types of CNC routers are also known as mini CNC Machine or Desktop CNC Machine. This type of CNC machine could be made at home but due to the long amount of time needed to create them, a market has been created for CNC routers with small size, lightweight and price( less 2000 USD ) of Homemade CNC routers. This type of CNC routers is mostly used to carve out designs from softer materials like plastics and foams.
  3. Specially Designed CNC router machines: These are multi Axis CNCs or specialty designed that are designed for specific purposes.

CNC Router Applications

Have you ever wondered about the tools behind the detailed carving of letters on or flawless cutting through hard materials? Do you know what can you do with a CNC router?

The CNC router machine is capable of 2D and 3D cuts through composite materials, plastic and other hard materials with the help of CAD files and G-code programming.

As mentioned above CNC routers can be used to cut through or carve through varying hard materials but not all, so it is important to note which materials can be cut through using a common CNC router machine.

  • Woods suitable for cutting: Softwood, MDF, Chipboard, plywood, hardwood.
  • Plastics suitable for cutting: ABS, Acrylic, HDPE, PVC, UHMW.
  • Suitable stone: Pebbles, natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, slate, basalt, granite.
  • Suitable composite: Titanium Composite, Zinc Composite, Copper Composite, Aluminum Composite.

The materials listed above could be used in the;

Building Industry

  • For general woodworking.
  • To make a kitchen cabinet and doors
  • For the making of facades
  • Curtain walls and columns and balustrade.

Sign and Advertising

  • For the making of indoor and outdoor signage.
  • For engraving and bas-relief
  • 3D letters, and funerals.

Using the CNC router machines, these materials can also be used to make relief sculpture and 3D engraving and cylindrical project.

Advantages of CNC Router

There are so many reasons why CNC router machines have become a must-have in many industries in which the cutting through and carving of hard material is part of their procedures.

  • The High Efficiency

Unlike man, CNC machines can work continuously 24/7 only requiring relatively short periods of maintenance in-between. When designs are programmed in a CNC machine, they can be manufactured identically a countless number of times.

  • Cut Through Different Materials.

CNC routers are capable of creating programmed designs on so many different types of materials. If you need a single design to be cut through identically over about 30 different materials from wood to plastic, this device is perfect for that.

  • Limited Man Power Needed

When using a CNC router the only manpower needed is to program and monitor the robotics, also numerous CNC routers can be controlled by one person as the only tasks needed to be done after they begin running is occasionally changing the cutting tool.

  • Higher Safety Majors Enforced.

Manually controlled routers come with so many risks involving both the operator and the fabrication shops. Machitech automation CNC routers have complete safety features that go a long way to eliminate the possibility of accidents.

  • Precision Cuts

The best thing about CNC routers is the precision in which their cuts are being made. Unlike the manual cutters, CNC routers are capable of cutting through hard materials precisely, avoiding waste, as a result, increasing the profit margin.

Disadvantages of CNC Router

As we mentioned above, in order for a CNC router to function efficiently very little manpower is needed, leading to an increase in the unemployment rate.

Also running the CNC router machines doesn’t take much time or training, making the numerous years and effort put by engineers and technicians to acquire certain skills uselessly.

Like many high-quality goods, the CNC router machines are very expensive, though the prizes are gradually coming down. The more efficient a machine, the more expensive it is.

How to choose the Best Suitable CNC Router Machine?

Finding the best CNC for you depends on several factors;

  • The size and type of the raw material you will be cutting through.
  • The number of pieces to be cut at a particular time.

Knowing which CNC router best suits your demand is based on four essential parameters of the CNC router machine.

1) Table Size:

Table size is important as it pertains to the size of the raw material and/or the number of pieces that must be cut in a certain time.

  • If you produce furniture or doors, you’d better choose the Professional Woodworking CNC Router Machine, general model size is 1300*2500mm, 1500*3000mm, 2000*3000mm, etc.
  • If you want to make Wood, Foam, EPS Mould, you should choose the Professional Wood &Foam Molding CNC Machinery
  • If you want to use the machine to make small pieces of crafts, gifts, with materials such as, wood, PVC, plastic, glass, etc., you can choose Mini CNC Router Machines with which you can produce several workpieces at once.

2) Spindle:

The spindle’s working mode and Power are the important points to note in CNC router Machine. Generally, spindles are divided into two kinds which are the Water-cooling spindle, and the Air-cooling spindle.

Choosing a suitable spindle for you depends on the material and the local Max temperature of the weather in your country.

  • If your material is soft, such as MDF, PVC, and you want to make small pieces of crafts, the lower power water cooling spindle, 2.2KW, 1.5KW is Ok.
  • If you want to produce furniture or doors, engraving, and cutting, we suggest you choose Air-cooling spindles. When the material is solid wood, you’d better choose a spindle power greater than 3.5KW. The CNC router independently developed by our factory is currently using Air-cooling spindles.

If the material is MDF, a spindle power of 3.5KW, 4.5KW will be sufficient.

3) Control System:

In China, the three kinds of control systems for CNC Router Machine are  DSP Control System, Nc Studio Control System, and the Taiwan Syntec Control System.

It is important to note that there are copy versions and original versions of NC studio, the Original version is the most suitable.

4). Machine Guide Rail:

For 1325 model machines, the  20mm or 25mm size guide rail will be sufficient but for bigger size CNC Router Machine, you should choose the bigger size guide rail, such as 30mm. Big size CNC routers must adopt imported widen square rails. You’d better discuss this with your CNC router supplier.

How to use CNC Routers?

How does a CNC router work?

In order for the desired paths to be created for this efficient tool to work, software packages are needed which help create toolpaths and NC codes.

The type of machine you have selected determines the processes you need to put in place to get the machine running.

To get things started, firstly, you need to upload a picture or file of the design into a drawing software (CAD).

The CAD ( Computer-Aided Design ) will convert your design into vectors.

Once your files have been converted into vectors, you can now go ahead to select the tool or toolpath that you will like the machine to make

At this phase you have a lot of control over the system;

You could decide to use either a 25-inch v-bit or a 75-bit inch core box bit.

You could also change the speed and cut depth of the router at this stage.

Once you are done selecting the tools, you can now proceed to select the toolpath, which involves either tracing the vectors, cutting outside the vectors or cutting inside the vectors; whatever you decide depends on what you need.

We are now done with our selection of the toolpath, the next step is uploading the vectors into the G-code software ( this can be seen as the control panel of the CNC router ).

The G-code software converts the vectors into G-code where you will see X, Y, Z coordinates. (X is horizontal to the table, Y is vertical to the table and Z is perpendicular to the table).

Now we are working with G-code, our next step is to determine the center point of the hard material ( this is very important for our next stages).

Now we know the center of the material, our next step is to load the material on the table and make it firm with clamps to avoid it moving when the cutting process begins.

After clamping the material to the table, you will need to adjust the machine until the router bit is directly over the center point of the material you marked.

Once the router bit has been adjusted to be directly over the material, you now need to bring it down to meet the surface of the material ( avoid digging into the material with the bit ).

This point should be marked as your absolute zero (creating a starting point once your machine is up and running ).

After noting the absolute zero point, bring the machine up a few inches and you are set to begin.

You can now go ahead to select the run G-code function for the machine to begin cutting your design.

4 thoughts on “What is a CNC Router? (Buying Guide)

  1. Avatar
    Ernesto Rios says:

    Good afternoon my name is Ernesto Rios I have interesting on cmc machine 4×8 for furniture kitchen cabinets and cabinets doors
    Can you please contact me

  2. Javier Munoz
    Javier Munoz says:

    We bought a machine for kitchen cabinets and doors using full sheet 18mm MDF 1220×2440. The machine is working fine! Thanks for their engineer help me. and I may even purchase from them again in the future as long as the tariffs don’t skyrocket!

    • Avatar
      BetaCNC says:

      Thank you for your kindly comment. It is quite honorable to provide the best machine and service to you. Forsun CNC will provide service for future. If you still have new enquiry or questions, pls send mail to [email protected] or whatsapp 0086-13287753168

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