GlobalSpec has asked its users about the latest design trends and features related to CNC Routers. They have also shared their product applications and tips on how to buy and use these products.
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Q:
What are some of the applications you have used a CNC router for?
52 answers
Answers:
Personally, I used mine to engrave photos into plexiglas and lexan. I've also cut pieces needed for my projects. I use D.O.S software, "Turbo CNC," and other support software to generate most of my G-Code. Where needed I will write my G-Code, but thanks to my other programs, I rely heavily on that software to generate the bulk of the G-Code needed for my projects. Once the Machine is calibrated and running, it's mesmerizing to set and watch it do its magic.
~Frank Hertel, Technical Support, Evansville, IN
I have used CNC Routers with high school students and teachers for a variety of projects ranging from the ever popular student name and artwork on a project to projects requiring 5 or 6 from pieces cut from different materials to fit together.
~Terry F, Faculty/Staff, Reno, NV
Shaping, profiling timber component parts for the manufacture of bespoke doors and joinery. Engraving doors, cutting non symmetrical apertures and machining glazing beads to suit. Creating programs to house locks and hinges.
~Stephen M, Wood machinist/ programmer, Leicester, United kingdom
I have a small pump manufacturing company. We need to purchase a small CNC mill for prototype work, cutting new 6" impellers, etc. Also for engraving name plates. Looking at HM CNC, Smithy, and couple other mills.
~Steve P, Manufacturer, Moss Point, MS
Donkey's years of commercial use. Mainly plastic components used in the bottling / canning industries, amongst a gazillion other applications.
~Manufacturing, Auckland, New Zealand
Carving violin tops and backs. Carving lithopane pictures, mandolin tops and backs. Trying to figure out how to carve the necks.
~Jerry M, Machinist and Wood worker., Piedmont, AL
Wood, plastic and composite material, aluminum for process working. Standard and special solutions on demand.
~Albergoni Fiorenzo, Project Manager, Villa D'Almè, Italy
Cutting composite sheet material into thrust washers and wear pads for industrial applications.
~Andy S, Design Engineer, Springfield, Lane
Simple pads of Ethafoam furnished with holes for ampoules and small bottles containing drugs.
~Physician from Norway, Anaestesiologist, Oslo, Norway
We use our CNC basically for producing marine teak decks for the pleasure boat industry.
~Mr. Inge B, Manufacturer, Grimstad, Norway
Hi speed milling operations. The table is multifunctional for metal, wood ,paper, etc...
~BOB S, Research & Development, Thunder Bay, Canada
Milling, turning, laser all the CNC machines who accept rs232 interface.
~Manufacturing, Marly, France
Cutting flat stock, molding, trim, 3-D models in wood, foam, aluminum.
~David S, CNC Manager, Tampa, FL
Trimming of sheet-metal, composites, acrylics and plastics components.
~Bob F, Production Engineer, Wichita, KS
I am using CNC routers for woodworking (Cutting-Milling-Carving).
~Mohamad B, Engineer, Mahalla, Egypt
Presently the lobs have been wood work. The precision is awesome.
~Technical Support/Services, Houston, TX
Engraving, cutting of aluminum plates, cutting of perspex plate.
~Michael H, Design Engineer, Brisbane, Australia
Making complex 3D Dies and electrotypes for watermarking paper.
~Manufacturing, Bomaderry, Australia
2 1/2 Axis sheet good cutting 5 Axis cutting for tooling
~Rick B, Production Engineer, New Bern, NC
Wood working, cabinet making and solid wood products.
~Tomislav DJ, Production Engineer, Bograd, Serbia
Milling pieces for jewelery, dental and 3D sectors.
~Francisco C, Marketing/Sales, Cordoba, Spain
In a three station plastic parts cutting robot.
~Engineering, Other, East London, South Africa
Woodworking-molding-3D Designs-soft metals-stone.
~Manufacturing, Linton, ND
Shoes mold, electrical parts, mechanical parts.
~Rudiyana Suparman, CADCAM/CNC consultant, Bandung, Indonesia
Prototyping, modeling, advertising, and so on.
~Mauricio C, Industrial Designer, Ing Maschwitz, Argentina
Machining plastic parts signs and exhibits.
~Dennis Carroll, Manufacturer, Bowie, MD
Wood cutting and art work for sign boards.
~Manufacturing, Toh guan, Singapore
Aluminum sheet for aerospace industry.
~Engineering, Consulting, Odolená Voda, Czech Republic
Woodworking, plastic modeling, hobby
~Engineer, Apex, NC
Wood and foam carving for artworks
~Other, CALEXICO, Mexico
RC airplane plans, plywood shapes.
~Marketing/Sales, Lahore, Pakistan
Production of parts for hobby use.
~Hugh Graham E, Electrician, Hutt City, New Zealand
Musical instrument manufacturing.
~Peter B, Master Luthier, Solvesborg, Sweden
To do small gift items and signs.
~Other, Belize
Making multiple prototype parts..
~Dave E, Engineer, Bloomington, IL
Boat building, and all others.
~Pedja Zeljajic, Production Engineer, Belgrade, RS
PLEXIGLAS Cutting and router
~Alaa Saad, Design Engineer, Cairo, Egypt
Cutting foam shapes, PVC etc...
~Engineering, Process/Production, Tauranga, New Zealand
Aluminum boat building
~Engineering, Consulting, Elwood, Australia
Missler's TopSolid Wood
~Engineering, Design, Oslo, Norway
Woodworking industry
~Engineering, Process/Production, Ðakovo, Croatia
Molding, fixtures.
~Engineering, Design, Tijuana, Mexico
Oxy cutting parts
~Dan R, Manager, Bucharest, R
Epoxy table top
~Manufacturing, Brampton, Canada
Plasma cutting
~Manufacturing, Spartanburg, SC
3 axis program
~Rany K, Programmer, Montreal, Canada
Plasma cutter
~Engineering, Faculty/Staff/Student, Montevideo, Uruguay
Wood industry
~Other, Ada, MI
Sign writing
~RON C, Engineering Consultant, DOVER, United Kingdom
Prototyping
~Engineering, Design, Pisa, Italy
Jewelry
~Samuel S, JEWELER, Tiberias, ISRAEL
All
~Marketing/Sales, Bridgewater, NJ

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Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that a CNC router has been used for.
17 answers
Answers:
We have CAD/Drafting students enter cartesian coordinates taken from an actual leaf and then connect them with splines in AutoCAD LT. This is exported to MasterCAM, assigned a tool path, and cut as a decoration on a cutting board. This project really gives students a lot of learning in many areas, and they get to take it home.
~Terry F, Faculty/Staff, Reno, NV
Occasionally, I will use my CNC as a plotter or drawing machine on large paper or drawing boards. I've made a spring loaded drawing pen that installs in place of the cutting spindle. It is more handy then one would initially consider.
~Frank Hertel, Technical Support, Evansville, IN
Peck drilling of stretched acrylic holes. Machining of mating surfaces to specific thickness. Elimination of hand fit (secondary operations) due to precise accuracy and repeatability of trimming and drilling.
~Bob F, Production Engineer, Wichita, KS
Applications for the dental field to 5-axis milling complex geometries. Bio Medical Applications with prosthetic bony reconstruction. We speak of type titanium metal.
~Francisco C, Marketing/Sales, Cordoba, Spain
A CNC table can be used for everything from metal to plastic to glass and wood, including drawing blue prints and technical drawings and or templates.
~BOB S, Research & Development, Thunder Bay, Canada
Cutting 5-axis items with a 3-axis machine using custom jigs. People underestimate the potential of a 3-axis machine.
~David S, CNC Manager, Tampa, FL
Its applications are kind of endless, I mean it's up to your imagination.
~Dennis Carroll, Manufacturer, Bowie, MD
Maybe Film industry, my last job was for film Lock out and Raven...
~Pedja Zeljajic, Production Engineer, Belgrade, RS
Creation of a large cut pattern for transfer to a substrate.
~Dave E, Engineer, Bloomington, IL
Label plating equipment engraving,
~Steve P, Manufacturer, Moss Point, MS
Reverse engineering via a probe.
~Peter B, Master Luthier, Solvesborg, Sweden
Most my works its jewelry.
~Samuel S, JEWELER, Tiberias, ISRAEL
Tire mold wedge parts.
~Andy S, Design Engineer, Springfield, Lane
Notching paper
~Manufacturing, Bomaderry, Australia
Wood carving
~Stephen M, Wood machinist/ programmer, Leicester, United kingdom
Making jigs?
~RON C, Engineering Consultant, DOVER, United Kingdom
Artwork 1
~Other, CALEXICO, Mexico

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Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of a CNC router?
13 answers
Answers:
None have happened to me. However, I made a service call to "Xxxxxxx Electric". They manufacture and rebuild the large electric motors used in mining. Their old "Fanuc" Laser CNC needed attention---I repaired the electronics and the laser driver circuitry and they then proceeded to adjust the 4 lasers that are combined to act as one high power laser for the cutting task. Each laser goes through a setup to assure proper beam size. This involved using a 1/2' metal plate as a "STOP" for the beam--it was usually 10 ft away from the individual laser tube that was being adjusted. A white piece of paper was used as the actual "Target" and the hole burned by the laser was proof of proper tube setup. A short 250 ms pulse was used for the burn. Someone moved the "STOP" plate and when the laser tube was fired, the result was a solid burn on a wood wall some 30 ft away. This was only one of the tubes (~250 Watts). If all 4 of the tubes were columinated and the test burn made, it would have been something to see.
~Frank Hertel, Technical Support, Evansville, IN
It is not "if" you crash the bit, but "when." Having said that, No, we have a very, very good safety program and great teachers who have done a great job preventing anything beyond a ruined part or bit.
~Terry F, Faculty/Staff, Reno, NV
Do -NOT- plunge into wood thicker than 3/4". It doesn't matter the kind of wood/plywood/composite; don't do it. It's not worth the risk of burning down your machine.
~David S, CNC Manager, Tampa, FL
It fell off a workbench and was damaged, as well as someone's foot. Make a spring stand for it.
~RON C, Engineering Consultant, DOVER, United Kingdom
Routers can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.
~Engineer, Apex, NC
Always secure your work down to avoid crashing.
~Jerry M, Machinist and Wood worker., Piedmont, AL
Buying the machine without someone who knows how to use it.
~Dennis Carroll, Manufacturer, Bowie, MD
Crash the machine, machine not aligned, parts cut are off, expensive to fix if delayed...
~Rany K, Programmer, Montreal, Canada
Doesn't check the revolution in the spindle comparate at the mass of the tools.
~Albergoni Fiorenzo, Project Manager, Villa D'Almè, Italy
Theoretically yes, but I have not experienced any.
~Physician from Norway, Anaestesiologist, Oslo, Norway
First of all find homing and zero.
~Samuel S, JEWELER, Tiberias, ISRAEL
Just broken tools...
~Engineering, Design, Oslo, Norway
Too big size
~Tomislav DJ, Production Engineer, Bograd, Serbia

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