What are CNC Routers?

Industrial CNC routers used in factory settings are much more expensive than hobbyist models.

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) routers are a class of workshop equipment used to remove material from a specific location on a piece of wood or metal. There are different types of CNC routers for different materials as each material has different strengths and weaknesses. Computer numerical control refers to computer programming used to control and program the router. CNC routers are used to create patterns or cutouts as needed.

A CNC machinist must be skilled at programming, testing and adjusting equipment to produce the desired results.

A CNC milling machine is attached to a table and uses computer programming to remove material from a piece of wood or metal in a specific pattern or shape. The router is usually connected to a three or four speed motor system. The four motor systems provide additional speed and greater accuracy. A recessed door hinge on a door frame is an example of the type of work a router does.

CNC routers designed for use with wood typically rotate at a rate between 13,000 and 24,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). Different baseboards, templates or jigs are used to create a specific pattern on the wood. These items are installed in the tool holders, which are accessible through the spindle tip. The spindle tip tightens and loosens to hold the tool used to cut the material.

Different models of CNC routers offer a wide range of clamping and tool change systems. These systems are designed to allow mechanics to quickly switch tool sets to meet different requirements. The greater the flexibility, the faster the work will be completed.

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When using a CNC router, it is important to understand the software that controls the router’s movements. Actual blade depth and cutting location are controlled by computer programming, and CNC operators must become skilled with the software installed on the router. Specialized software is available for different materials, with tolerance settings and material feedback that can produce higher quality output than other methods.

A wooden router can also be used for plastics and other soft materials as long as the speed is high enough. Metal routers incorporate garbage collection to safely collect excess material. When installing CNC routers, give some thought to the location of bins to collect waste material.

There are two methods used to protect materials when using CNC routers: capsule-based suction or a vacuum system. Most routers only offer one method. Each method has specific applications where it would be most efficient.

Suction pods are typically used to hold material so it can be moved and manipulated as needed. A suction-based system is more practical when the product needs to be cut. A recess is when a groove or groove is created in solid material.

Trash boards or disposable sheets are another vacuum suction method used on a low density table. This method allows parts to be placed anywhere on the table and held in place by the vacuum suction created under the table’s surface. This type of system is slightly more expensive than suction pods as the motor is needed to generate a higher level of suction over a wider area.

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