CNC Routers Information

A router is a tool used to hollow out an area in the face of the working stoCNC Router via Multicamck (wood, plastic, other material). Small hand-held routers use a spinning cylindrical blade, similar to a drill bit, to cut out the material. The spindle bit spins at a very high speed, around 25,000 rpm. Some routers have bits that can handle more than 20 hp, compared to 3000 rpm for a milling machine or a few hundred rpm for a drill. The most common use for a traditional router is working on wood and plastics, such as making dove-tail joints in furniture pieces. 

A CNC, or computer numerically controlled, router is a sophisticated computer-controlled machine tool version of a hand router. A CNC router routs out wood, plastic stock and other soft materials using a computer controlled system that runs CAD/CAM or computer aided design / computer aided manufacturing software. These CNC routers are used in industrial model making, and in the furniture and building trades where fancy intricately carved wood doors, cabinets and tables can be cut out quickly and perfectly in a short time. CNC routers usually have a built-in Windows©  compatible or other graphical user interface operating system computer with networking features, monitor, and peripherals so they can be operated locally as well as through the shop’s network. 

The CAD design program is first fed into the CAM software application. Then the CAM software calculates the tool paths for the actual manufacturing process. CNC routers have a minimum of 3 axes: X, Y and Z, or a 3 dimensional tool travel path. Some have more which means the tool head, or spindle, can rotate the router bit from one to three dimensions. For example, a 5 axis CNC router can move the spindle in 3 dimensions and the spindle can rotate or move the tool head in two more dimensions. 

Spindle with water cooling via Blurry CustomsA CNC router has a base table, where the stock is placed and secured, that can be up to 200 square feet. There are simpler models that can fit on a small desktop and run off of normal 120V AC.  Most CNC routers are gantry style meaning there is an overhead gantry above the table that moves back and forth on a pair of rails on each side of the bed. The spindle that holds the cutting bit moves left to right on the gantry’s overhead beam over the bed. The spindle hangs down from the gantry so the gantry can be moved to any x-y point. Then its spindle and router bit can move up or down on the z axis. The machine tool’s movements are powered with stepper or servo motors. Then the actual router bit head on the spindle can also optionally be turned or rotated from vertical to horizontal giving the tool 2 more axis of movement.    

Specifications

Here are specifications to consider when selecting a CNC Router:

  • Number of axis: 3, 4 or 5

  • Table size

  • Frame construction

  • Axis of travel

    • X-axis

    • Y-axis

    • Z-axis

  • Maximum speed

  • Spindle power

  • True robotics

  • Automatic tool change spindle

  • Computer and peripheral software 

Resources 

CNC Router - Wikipedia

Series V: High Precision 3D CNC Routing - Acc-Router 

Image credits:

MultiCam | Blurry Customs


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