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CNC Router Machine: Things You Must Know

CNC is the abbreviation of Computer Numerical Control. Thus, a CNC router is a modern machine that can be controlled with the help of a computer, instead of handling manually. This machine can cut all types of sturdy materials, like wood, metals, thick glass and plastic sheets. The latest computing technology is applied for manufacturing this CNC router that functions in the same way as that of a manually operating router, only at a much higher speed and with more accuracy.

Useful functions of a CNC router machine

Previously, a large-sized CNC router machine was used for different industrial operations, which demanded a lot of storage space. However, a portable CNC router is now available and can be controlled by a simple desktop computer. Hence, the required software needs to be installed on a personal computer, from where the CNC router can be controlled very easily.

  • CNC router is successfully used to cut maple and other popular varieties of wood. Skilled craftsmen make the best use of this machine for getting wood pieces of exactly the required dimensions, which can be joined together with screws or nuts. All types of stylish furniture items of both traditional and contemporary designs can be created with the aid of a CNC router machine. Wooden toys and interesting games can also be made by cutting wood precisely with this machine.
  • Advanced CNC routers are used in industries, for making prototypes of various products. Earlier, manual routers took much longer time to create such prototypes, and this problem is now solved with the application of CNC router. Accurate models of items with very delicate designs can be now made within a few minutes, by using a CNC router. So it is easier for manufacturers to correct all the errors noticed in these prototypes, resulting in perfect end products. This use of the CNC router is also beneficial in the field of engineering and art as well.
  • CNC routers are now used in building construction and interior design. Intricate designs are applied while making doors of kitchen cabinets, wooden shelves, and wardrobes, with the use of these latest machines. Moreover, the costs of making cabinets have decreased due to the use of this computerized router, compared to the products that were made by manual routers.
  • 3D signboards are now widely used by many business owners, for advertising their products or services. These signboards are usually made of plastic, bronze, foam, wood, and aluminium . CNC routers are applied in a 3D movement style to create these signs that can attract potential customers.

What is the difference between a CNC mill and a CNC router?

The operation of a CNC router is quite similar to that of a CNC mill. Hence, users should have a clear idea on the difference between these two machines so that they can make the best uses of these computerized devices.

  • A CNC milling machine is designed to cut through only the even surfaces of very hard metals, like titanium. On the other hand, the CNC router is used to cut different kinds of materials including the softer ones, like plastic and foam.
  • The spindle of a CNC mill works horizontally or vertically on a linear axis, creating various shapes as per the requirements. CNC router operates by spinning its spike on a 3-axis configuration, which cuts materials of even surfaces.
  • A CNC mill has the capability of cutting much thicker materials, compared to a CNC router. Moreover, it can create more varieties of shapes than a computerized router machine.
  • CNC mill can cut very minute measurements and a good quality milling machine is expected to cut even 1/1000th of 1 inch on a metal sheet. However, the CNC router cannot cut too precisely as it deals with soft materials as well.
  • The rotational speed of a CNC router is much higher than that of a CNC mill. Normally, a CNC router can operate at a speed of 18,000 RPMs while a CNC milling machine can run at the maximum speed of only 1000 RPMs.

The operational procedure of a CNC router for different purposes

The operations of a CNC router can be programmed on the computer before running this machine. Various computer programming languages can be used for this purpose, among which G-code is the most popular and the simplest one. Some users may also prefer Mazak or Heidenhain as the programming languages for this device.

  • If a user does not have the option of using a G-code as the initial programming language, he can choose a DXF file extension as the vector graphics for the project of using the CNC router. This graphics file should be drawn as a 3-dimensional picture, with all the information of the image to be created.
  • Next, this vector file should be converted into G-code language so that the created graphics design can be cut through the chosen material. There is a software tool named CAM that is used for this conversion process on the computer. Thus, the created vector graphics are easily transformed into G-code and ready for applying into the router.
  • This G-code language is then run for directing the router into cutting operations. A specific software tool called CNC Control software should be installed for running this G-code. As a result, the router machine starts moving as per the given directions.

Though the CNC router is a useful machine, people need to be careful while buying it. It’s size should be chosen according to the nature of the project. A larger router holds the capacity of working on the industrial level while a small machine is sufficient for new learners of this computerized technique.

The small-sized CNC router is also needed for those who use it just for pursuing a hobby. As this machine runs on electricity, a motor of definite capability should be purchased for supplying the necessary power for operations. The longevity of a CNC router depends on its extent of usage, which should be stated while buying this machine. Moreover, the buyer should make sure that all replaceable parts of the chosen CNC router are easily available in the market.

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