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How does a CNC router work?
CNC routers vary in their build volume and configuration; they can have one or more axis to work with and the ability to swap tools to perform different tasks. The key feature of these machines is the computer control, which moves, rotates and spins tools according to a CAM program, which can be created manually for relatively easy tasks or automatically using software. The software transforms a digital CAD file into a set of instructions for the machine to complete.
Why use a CNC router?
Routing is a common production method used in woodwork, signage, moldings, thermoforming, and more. It’s most effective when a precise cut is required on a regular basis. CNC routers, depending on their components, are compatible with various hard materials including wood, metal, stone, plastics, foam, acrylics, and glass. Some machines are equipped with dust collection systems, which soak in material chips and other waste during the process.
Computer controlled routers help to reduce production time and the frequency of manufacturing errors by creating near-identical objects each and every time, provided all external factors are controlled. CNC routers require technical assistance from time to time, with working tools and mechanisms wearing down over time. However, the production capabilities and speeds still make using these machines extremely cost-efficient for businesses and hobbyists.
Older versions of CNC routers used to be large and take up a lot of room but now modern machines come in various sizes, and there are even desktop versions, which fit on a table and still delivery superb results. Software used in routers has also improved, so even hobbyists are now able to operate simple machines with the help of CAD/CAM programs. Several programs are designed for special purposes and can help to create simple models, as well as generating codes for designs. This makes CNC routers helpful for tinkerers, furniture manufacturers and even designers, without the need for professional carving and woodworking skills.
What is CNC woodworking?
CNC woodworking is an automated form of woodworking, where a machine cuts, shapes and engraves wood without any human interference, after the initial setup. The full form of CNC is “computer numeric control”. Don’t fret over how complicated that sounds, it basically means a machine controlled by a computer.
The most common kind of a woodworking CNC machine is a CNC router. There are other kinds as well such as CNC drills and CNC lathes. The difference is that these machines are specifically designed for a specific purpose whereas the CNC router is as versatile as a router can be, and arguably faster and more accurate than a regular router. It can cut, shape and engrave at high speeds with absolute accuracy and do the task repeatedly with consistent results. Lets learn a little more about the CNC woodworking router.
CNC vs 3D Printer
As the popularity of CNC machines have grown, so have the popularity of 3D printers. Ten years ago, only a handful of people had even heard of a 3D printer. Now, it’s highly likely that everyone at least knows someone who owns one if they don’t own one themselves.
There’s often confusion between what a 3D printer does and what a CNC machine does. Here’s the easiest explanation I’ve heard. A 3D printer starts with nothing. As it runs, it begins printing and add material in precise locations. Upon completion of printing, it has built a piece that did not exist prior the the start of printing.
A CNC machine is the opposite. With a CNC machine, the user starts with a piece of material. That material can be anything such as wood, aluminum or steel. One the CNC machine begins executing a command, it begins removing material. Even if the command is as simple as drilling a hole, it’s still removing material. Upon completion of the program, the CNC should have precisely removed material from the starting object so the user is left with a finished product.
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