What is a CNC Router?
What do you think of when you hear the term “CNC Router”? For many people, this might be a large table including a gantry with some type of motor and a tool bit on it, making passes up and down the table while cutting different patterns out of large pieces of material. This is one great application that CNC routers can be utilized for, along with a myriad of others that make it an invaluable asset to many production companies and at home hobbyists!
The CNC portion allows for computer numerical control, which allows for a much more precise and repeatable process compared to the older manual style of tables. CNC routers are also very similar to milling machines though they are generally a bit less powerful, making certain materials like harder steel and various other metals a bit difficult to cut cleanly.
What can it do?
CNC routing tables can be used with a wide range of different materials, ranging from wood and soft plastic all the way to some aluminum and in certain cases, some softer variations of steel. Depending on the depth of the applicable control, routing tables can do simple projects like signs and engraved text to more intricate designs in the 3D setting. Cutting out multiple, individual pieces of a larger project can even be done and then fastened together to create a new, larger product entirely. There is little to no end of the possibilities, besides potential physical limitations, that most routers are capable of. If it can be designed in a CAD/CAM system, most router-controlled systems will be able to import and utilize to accurately cut your part.
Why would I benefit from a CNC Router?
CNC routers, in many cases, can help alleviate excess waste material as well as increasing the production time of many projects. In a professional environment, this will, in turn, bring about better production numbers, more projects being able to get focused on while the CNC router automates what might have been manually done before, and even open up some possibilities that weren’t a viable capability of the shop beforehand. Hobbyists alike can take full advantage of CNC routing tables. Anything from a minor side-project to starting up business entirely that focuses on cutting, engraving, sign-making, etc. would be an excellent time to consider a CNC router! Routing tables also make for great prototyping projects. Before committing and having a new product made from an expensive material, using less expensive materials and prototyping it out on a routing table is another great way to make sure it’s properly designed and ready for full-blown production. Catching any defects before a production model is made can save an extensive amount of time and in many cases the more important thing, money!