HomeCNC RoutersHow Bad is it to Drill on a CNC Router?

How Bad is it to Drill on a CNC Router?

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I had long heard (and myself repeated) that drilling on a CNC router was less than ideal. But just how bad is it to drill materials at 10k RPM? That’s what I wanted to find out for myself.

I’m using Short/Stub Length drill bits from McMaster (https://www.mcmaster.com/drills) but there’s nothing special about them. Shop around!

PCB drills I’m using: https://shop.carbide3d.com/products/pcb-drills?variant=41236645126


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  1. Just what i need… I need to drill a number of holes of a certain diameter and in a precise pattern (or I have to do it manually which sucks.. LOL)… I need a CNC router…. Mike in LA, Calif, USA

  2. lol On Fusion handling tons of holes, did a project yesterday(leather tool plate) where I repeated a model hundreds and hundreds of times. And it was a complicated little stamp, trust me I feel your pain;) I've got a pretty stout multicore xeon workstation with 96gb of ram. BUT Fusion still was dragging it to the ground on this project so I think it's Fusion more so than the machine pushing it;) I crashed Fusion like 10 times yesterday;)

  3. Really depressing to see an exciting idea be taken out and shot by a large company once again. We still need a tool like that for the individual that isn't entirely based on a mega-corp. 🙁

  4. Boss spent 100k on a cnc and all it does is drill hundreds of holes all day every day (just a plain ol cnc) nothing special but its used like the worlds most expensive pedestal drill ?

  5. At my work, we drill thousands of holes on out shopbot, but the biggest issue we see is bearing wear on the router motor.

    Due to the shopbot being used this way most of the time it is in operation, it has two spare spindles that are rebuilt and swapped when it starts getting noisy.

    We also use short carbide bits, due to the material (mdf) and speed.

  6. “Boring” is an operation that uses a boring bar what you are calling boring is just contour machining with a ramped entry the confusion might come from the use of “bore” as a term for round holes. Boring (with a boring bar) and drilling are a better way to make accurate holes any machining done on a Cartesian machine is going to be out of round and often out of tolerance due to backlash. The disadvantages to drilling you mentioned are correct hss drills want a lower rpm and are long and wiggly- also without a drill collet it’s tough to get them seated in the router. Outside of lowering rpm you can get more expensive carbide drills which will bring the ideal rpm to a more router friendly speed- you can also get stub length drill bits which help both the stickout and walking issues

  7. If you don't have hundreds of holes to make: I use a drill bit in the CNC as a sort of very precise center punch, then drill the holes on the drill press.

  8. How terribly optimized is fusion 360, Design Spark just now handled 10k holes on my 2015 AMD chip from the A10 series with a fraction of a second process time and 600MB of RAM

  9. There is nothing stopping you from buying a 20 dollar pwm power supply off amazon and using that to control your router at lower speeds. The rpm is not a limitation of the motor it is a limitation of the very basic electronics inside of it. Anyone should have the knowledge to remove the old electronics and hock the motor up to a new power supply. Then you will be able to go as low as 30 rpm on most motors like that before they cut out completely. Keep in mind the lower you go the lower the torque however. Once you get high enough though then torque stays pretty constant for the rest of the range.

  10. If you're just doing imprecise, mass repetitions and it's breaking your CADCAM program, just split it into multiple programs. Or, you can just play with the G-code. I think there's G-code for arrays of drilling processes, but you can also just make a program to drill one hole, then edit the G-code and copy/paste a bunch of relative coordinate changes.

  11. Good stuff. Thank you, Winston. I see a lot of comments from guys who are clearly veteran CNC machinists, so they're rightly skeptical of this, but as I understand it your point was to do some legwork and investigate the question of drilling with a palm-router based CNC machine – for those of use who have these machines and wondered that ourselves. I know full well these routers spin too fast for regular hole drilling, but man what a cool thing if it can sorta be made to to work. I'm a mechanical engineer and have had a manual Harbor Freight grade manual mill for years, but I'm new to CNC – just put my Shapeoko Pro XXL together last week and ran Hello World. What I don't get about this is what the toolpath looks like. In other words how do you get the machine to just plunge down to drill a hole hole but not translate? How do you make it peck? (I've gathered from comments that's not a good idea, but would like to know nonetheless). Is it as simple as using Carbide Create to draw the board with the pattern of holes in it and using the "Drill" option under the "2D Toolpaths" tab? Can you steer me to a good tutorial on this?

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