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CNC Router Basics

CNC Router

Are you looking forward to DIY CNC router kit plans or coming up with an idea to buy affordable CNC routers for wood, aluminum, stone, foam, plastic with home use, small business, hobbyists, school education, commercial use or industrial manufacturing in USA, UK, UAE, Canada, Australia, Russia, South Africa, China, India or other countries from Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania? Review the 2021 new CNC router machine buying guide for CNC router beginners, operators, machinists, wood fabricators, metal fabricators, foam fabricators, stone fabricators, woodworkers, metalworkers, and stoneworkers, we'll offer you 2021 best computer numerical controlled router machines with custom CNC routing service to fit your CNC projects, files, ideas, and plans.

What Is A CNC Router Machine? - Definition

A CNC router is a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine tool for automatic routing, cutting, carving, engraving, drilling, grooving, milling, sanding, polishing of soft wood, solid wood, hard wood, plywood, MDF, stone, foam, ceramic, plastic, acrylic, glass, PVC, PCB, ACM, brass, aluminum, copper and other soft metals. A CNC router machine is composed of CNC controller, CNC software, CNC operating system, frame, spindles, gantry, motor, driver, guide rail, ball screw, power supply, T-slot table or vacuum table, vacuum pump, collet, limit switch, rack and pinion. A CNC router is also known as computer numerical controlled router machine, C and C router, CNC router machine, CNC router kit, CNC router table, CNC routing machine, CNC carver, CNC cutter, CNC engraver, digital router, CNC carving machine, CNC cutting machine, CNC engraving machine.

How Many Types of CNC Router Kits? - DIY Guide

The most common CNC router tables (by feet) include 2x2 CNC router table kits, 2x3 CNC router table kits, 2x4 CNC router table kits, 4x4 CNC router table kits, 4x6 CNC router table kits, 4x8 CNC router table kits, 5x10 CNC router table kits and 6x12 CNC router table kits, the table sizes are also known as 16x16, 16x24, 24x24, 24x36, 24x48, 48x48, 48x96, 60x120, 80x120, and 80x160 in inches, someone may call the table sizes as 4040, 6040, 6060, 6090, 1212, 1218, 1224, 1325, 1530, 2030 and 2040 in millimeter (mm).
Types by Applications: Types of hobby CNC kits (mini CNC type, small CNC type, portable CNC type, desktop CNC type, benchtop CNC type, tabletop CNC type), Types of industrial CNC kits (CNC wood router, CNC metal router, CNC stone router, CNC foam router, CNC plastic router, CNC aluminum router, CNC glass router).
Types by Axes: Types of 3 axis, Types of 4th axis, Types of 4 axiss, Types of 5 axis, Types of multi axis.

How Does A CNC Router Machine Work? - Working Principle

A CNC router machine needs at least 3 axis to complete the routing works, called X, Y and Z. The X-axis is horizontal, the Y-axis vertical, and the Z-axis refers vertical to the other two axis. A computer controller reads G-code or other machine language instructions and drives a tool for motion control. The spindle holds the tool, moves along X, Y and Z axis, following the tool path generated by the CNC software. In a 3 axis CNC machine, the tool is always vertical, and undercuts are not possible. In addition, a CNC machine can be equipped with a rotary axis (4th axis) around the X, Y and Z axis, which is called as CNC router lathe machine. It is mainly used for cylinder carving and cutting projects and some 3D CNC machining projects. A real 4 axis CNC machine has one additional axis, which refers to X-Y-Z-A, X-Y-Z-B, X-Y-Z-C. Four axis are linked, which can work at the same time. 5 axis CNC machine has two additional axis, which refers to X-Y-Z-A-B, X-Y-Z-A-C, X-Y-Z-B-C. The machine moves a tool on five different axis at the same time. The spindle can be rotated left and right with 180 degrees around. These additional axis allow for shorter project time due to their capability of carving five edges of the material simultaneously. The position of the machine is determined by a computer. The computer will tell the motors how much to move in each direction. Any location within the machine’s work area can be defined by using the method of positioning. The machine can be moved within that space. The machine is connected to a computer, the computer will tell it where to move. First, the CNC operator should do the toolpath creation, the operator uses CAD or CAM software program to draw the shapes and create the tool path that the machine will follow. So, when you have some CNC machining plans, what kind of table sizes should be chosen? which all depends on your requirements and budgets.

What Is A CNC Router Machine Used For? - Applications

CNC router machines have a wide range of applications for woodworking, sign making, furniture, cabinetry, fixtures, custom millwork, channel letters, model making, joinery, orthotic manufacturing, point-of-purchase (pop), jewelry manufacturing, CAD/CAM instructional, prosthetic manufacturing, educational, solid surface production, prototyping, radius mouldings, aerospace, foam packaging, countertop production, plastic packaging equipment manufacturers, mannequin production, metal working, musical instrument manufacturers, packaging, store fixtures, boat building, extrusions cutting boards, PCB fabricators, safety enclosures, conveyor manufacturers, engraving, pool cues, magnetic, gun stock manufacturers, knife template manufacturing, fan blade manufacturers, pistol grip manufacturers, korbal manufacturers, kneuls manufacturing, artistic carvings, name tags, MDF doors, puzzles. CNC routers are widely applied in industrial manufacturing, small business, small shop, home business, home shop, school education, hobbyists and SMBs.

What Materials Can Be Cut With CNC Routers? - Using Guide

CNC router machine is a fully automatic computer numberical controlled machine kit for routing in a wide variety of materials, like woods, foams, plastics, stones and soft metals:
Solid Wood/Hard Wood: Redwood, cherry, cottonwood, ash, oak, pine, birch, mahogany, poplar, beech, hard maple, walnut, teak, purple heart, tigerwood, hickory, leopardwood, cocobolo, bloodwood, aspen, basswood, alder, yellow birch, red elm, beech, cypress, gum, hackberry, pacific coast maple, pecan, red oak, bolivian rosewood, sycamore, sassafras, white oak, hondura mahogany, black walnut, spanish cedar, african padauk, willow, wenge.
Soft Wood: Soft maple, pine, fir, hemlock, cedar, spruce, redwood.
Composite Wood: MDF, OSB, LDF, plywood, masonite, particle board, melamine.
Plastic: ABS, PVC, PET, polyethylene, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene, cast and extruded acrylic, uhmw, phenolic, luan, vhmw, hdpe, mica, acetate, sintra, lucite, marine PVC, nylon, lexan, solid surface materials.
Stone: Tombstone, granite, natural marble, milestone, jade, artificial stone, bluestone, sandstone, ceramic tile.
Metal: Copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, honeycomb aluminum, mild steel, stainless steel.
Foam: Sign foam, polyethylene, polyurethane, polystyrene, EVA, styramfoam, urethane, precision board, foam rubber, silicone rubber.
Other Materials: PCB, ren board, fiberglass, vinyl coated panels, machinable wax, mat board, butter board, gypsum, magnetic rubber mats, composites, g10, leather, wood veneers, mother-of-pearl, delrin, rubber, modeling clay.

Technical Parameters - Specification Guide

Table Sizes2' x 2', 2' x 3', 2' x 4', 4' x 4', 4' x 6', 4' x 8', 5' x 10', 6' x 12'
Axis3 Axis, 4th Axis, 4 Axis, 5 Axis
Capability2D Machining, 2.5D Machining, 3D Machining
MaterialsWood, Stone, Foam, Metal, Aluminium, Copper, Brass, Plastic, Acrylic
TypesHobby CNC Routers for Home Use (Mini, Small, Benchtop, Desktop, Tabletop, Portable) and Industrial CNC Routers for Commercial Use (CNC Wood Routers, CNC Stone Routers, CNC Metal Routers, CNC Foam Routers)
CAD/CAM SoftwareArtCAM, Type3, Cabinet Vision, CorelDraw, UG, Solidworks, MeshCAM, AlphaCAM, UcanCAM, MasterCAM, CASmate, PowerMILL, Fusion360, Aspire, AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Alibre, Rhinoceros 3D
CNC ControllerDSP, Ncstudio, Mach3, Mach4, OSAI, Siemens, Syntec, LNC, FANUC
Price Range$2,580.00 - $150,000.00
OEM ServiceX, Y, Z Axis Working Area
Optional Parts & AccessoriesDust Collector, Vacuum Pump, Rotary Device, Mist-Cooling System, Servo Motors, Colombo Spindle

How Much Does A CNC Router Machine Cost?

Different CNC router machine specifications have different costs, including machine bed, X, Y table (T-slot table and vacuum table), spindle, gantry, ball screw, guide rail, vacuum pump, driver, motor, CNC controller, operating system, collet, rotary 4th axis, limit switch, power supply, rack and pinion. Machines from different brands have different service and support, which will lead to different costs. Machines from different countries have different tax rates, different customs, different shipping costs. All of these factors will result in the final price. You will get a price range of $2,580.00 to $150,000.00 from STYLECNC. If you want to buy a machine overseas, and get the final price, please contact us to get a free quotation, we'll calculate the final price of your required machines.

Pick Up Your Budget - Pricing Guide

TypesMinimum PriceMaximum PriceAverage Price
CNC Wood Router$2,580.00$38,000.00$5,670.00
CNC Metal Router$5,000.00$23,800.00$7,210.00
CNC Foam Router$6,780.00$180,000.00$11,280.00
CNC Stone Router$2,800.00$33,800.00$6,510.00
CNC Nesting Router$9,000.00$56,000.00$15,230.00
3 Axis$2,380.00$22,800.00$5,280.00
4th Axis$2,580.00$25,980.00$6,160.00
4 Axis$22,800.00$37,800.00$26,120.00
5 Axis$80,000.00$150,000.00$101,200.00

How To Choose A CNC Router Machine? - Buying Guide

1. Motor drive, the CNC machine kits equipped with low power motors are only suitable for routing double-color plates, building models, small signs, three-dimensional crafts and other materials. This process has been popular for some time, but the power is too low, which greatly affects its application range. The machines equipped with high power motors are divided into two types: one type is a large format table, the format is generally more than one meter, but the accuracy of this type is generally poor. The other type is a medium format table, this type is generally used for fine machining and organic sign making.
2. Spindle motor, the spindle motor is also very important, because it is generally not covered by the warranty, and it needs to continuously work for a long time, so if the spindle motor has problems, which will affect the use of the machine.
3. Furthermore, it is the speed adjustable range of the spindle motor. The general speed adjustable range is thousands to 30,000 revolutions per minute. If the speed is not adjustable or the speed adjustable range is small, then the application range of the machine is limited, because different materials must be carved at different speeds.
4. Machine bed manufacturing process: The high power machinery requires the body to be precise and stable when working. Therefore, long-term high power machining should use the casting body to ensure its accuracy and stability.
5. CNC controllers are also generally divided into two types: one type of controller is only driven, and all computing operations are completed by a computer. The computer is in a waiting state while the machine is working, and cannot perform typesetting work. Another type of controller is controlled by a single board computer or a single-chip computer. This controller is actually a computer, so as long as the machine starts working, the computer can immediately perform other typesetting work, especially when working for a long time, the advantages are particularly obvious.
6. Ball screw and guide rails are also important parts. High quality ball screw and guide rails are the guarantee of machining precision and performance when the machine is used for a long time.

How To Use A CNC Router Machine? - Basic Operation Guide

CNC router machine has three control methods: ordinary variable frequency drive and control, vector control drive and control, and direct torque control. Ordinary frequency conversion is scalar drive and control, and its drive control characteristic is constant torque drive, and the output power is proportional to the speed. The dynamic performance of ordinary frequency conversion control is not ideal, the control performance is not good at low speed, the output power is not stable enough, and it does not have the C-axis function. But the price is low, the structure is simple, and it is generally used for grinders and ordinary high-speed milling machines. The vector control technology imitates the control of a DC motor, is oriented by the rotor magnetic field, and realizes the drive and control by the method of vector transformation, which has good dynamic performance. The vector control drive has a large torque value at the beginning. In addition, the electric spindle itself has a simple structure and small inertia, so the starting acceleration is large, and the allowable limit speed can be reached instantaneously after starting. This kind of drive includes open loop and closed loop. The latter can realize position and speed feedback, not only has better dynamic performance, but also can realize C-axis function. Direct torque control is another new type of high-performance AC speed control technology developed after vector control technology. Its control idea is novel, the system structure is simple and clear, and it is more suitable to drive and satisfy high-speed spindles.

Now, follow the 5 steps to correctly operate a CNC router kit:

Step 1, Turn On to Start.
1. Turn on the power of the control computer and monitor, and start the CNC software
2. Press the power switch.
3. Turn on the spindle motor cooling water pump and check the cooling water flow.
4. If the machine is turned on for the first time today, depress the handle of the lubricating oil injector once, and add lubricating oil to the lubricated part.
5. Perform the mechanical origin return operation in the software, and eliminate possible collisions before the operation.
6. Manually move each feed axis 1 to 2 back and forth within the full stroke.

Step 2, Workpiece Clamping.
1. Place the cushion material in the center of the workbench.
2. Place the workpiece to be processed on the mat.
3. Use at least 4 sets of pressure plates to fix the workpiece on the worktable.
4. Check whether the workpiece is clamped firmly.
5. Find the edge and set the workpiece origin:
5.1. Move the spindle along the feed axis that accurately sets the origin until the tool will touch the workpiece.
5.2. Start the spindle.
5.3. Switch to single-step movement with step size 0.01mm or 0.05mm.
5.4. Move in one step until the rotating tool touches the workpiece. At this time, a slight noise will be heard.
5.5. Zero the workpiece coordinates of this axis or record the current machine coordinates.
5.6. Move the axis to move the tool away from the workpiece, and pay attention to confirm that the moving direction is correct.

Step 3, CNC Tool Changing.
1. Disconnect the power of the routing machine to ensure that the spindle motor stops.
2. Move the spindle to a position where it is easy to change the cutter, and place the soft material directly under the cutter to avoid damaging the cutting edge when the cutter falls.
3. Fix the spindle with a small wrench, and turn the chuck nut clockwise (viewed from top to bottom) with a large wrench, taking care not to hit the cutting edge with the wrench.
4. If you need to replace the chuck, unscrew the chuck nut and replace the chuck to remove foreign objects in the machine chuck and chuck nut.
5. Check whether the cutting edge of the router bit to be clamped is intact.
6. Install the collet and nut on the spindle.
7. Insert the router bit to be clamped into the hole of the chuck, as far as possible according to the actual situation (but the cylindrical part of the bit cannot be fully inserted), and tighten the nut by hand. This step cannot be reversed from the previous step: do not insert the bit before installing the nut on the spindle.
8. Tighten the nuts with two wrenches, being careful not to use too much force, and also being careful not to hit the cutting edge with the wrench.
9. Confirm that the wrench is away from the spindle, and turn on the power.
10. Set the router bit again and set the Z coordinate of the workpiece origin.

Step 4, Start CNC Programming.
1. Confirm the following work:
1.1. The router bit is firmly clamped.
1.2. The workpiece origin is set correctly, especially the Z coordinate of the workpiece origin after tool change.
1.3. Workpieces are clamped firmly.
1.4. The NC program is loaded correctly.
2. Adjust the feedrate override to about 30% in the CNC software and start the CNC program.
3. After confirming that there is no abnormal operation, adjust the feedrate override to the normal value.
4. Someone must be on duty during operation.

Step 5, Shut Down to Stop.
1. Return to the mechanical origin.
2. Remove the router bit and the chuck nut is allowed to stay on the spindle.
3. Turn off the CNC machine kit.
4. Turn off the computer, this step can not be reversed with the previous step.

How To Install And Use CNC Router Bits? - Tooling Guide

If CNC bits are installed correctly, the results will be more accurate, and the bit is not easy to break during use. How to quickly and correctly install bits for a CNC router machine? Please follow the 5 steps to install and use:
Step 1. There are many gaps in the chuck. Before installing the router bits, you need to clean the chuck with gasoline or cleaning agent, check and remove the residue in the chuck gap.
Step 2. The cooperation between the chuck and the shaft is in contact with the tapered hole at the shaft end. If the contact is not good, the tool is not easy to install, and it is necessary to ensure that the tapered surface has good contact. The shaft cone surface must be scrubbed with gasoline or cleaning agent before loading the cutter.
Step 3. Put the chuck into the pressure cap and gently turn the clamp spring. When the eccentric part of the pressure cap is recessed into the chuck groove, push the chuck evenly in the direction of the arrow to install it in the pressure cap.
Step 4. the chuck is installed on the machine spindle together with the pressure cap. After cleaning the cylindrical shank of the bit, install it in the holding hole. After confirming that the chuck and the tool are aligned, screw the pressure cap into place by hand. Then use a wrench to tighten the pressure cap evenly until the tool is clamped.
Step 5. When loosening the bit, use a wrench to tighten the cap in the opposite direction. If you need to change the chuck, loosen the cap to bring out the chuck and bit, remove the bit, and push the chuck in the direction of the arrow to push it out, and then as needed just replace the chuck with another aperture.

Troubleshooting - Problems & Solutions

1. Alarm Failure.

Over-travel alarm indicates that the machine has reached the limit position during operation. Please check according to the following steps:

1.1. Whether the designed graphic size exceeds the processing range.

1.2. Check whether the connecting wire between the machine motor shaft and the lead screw is loose, if so, please tighten the screws.

1.3. Whether the machine and the computer are properly grounded.

1.4. Whether the current coordinate value exceeds the value range of the software limit.

2. Overtravel Alarm Released.

When overtravel, all motion axes are automatically set in jog state, as long as you keep pressing the manual direction key, when the machine leaves the limit position (that is, out of the overtravel point switch), the connected motion state will be restored at any time. Pay attention to the movement when moving the workbench The direction must be far away from the limit position. The soft limit alarm needs to be cleared to X, Y, Z in the coordinate setting.

3. Non-alarm Failure.

3.1. Insufficient repetitive processing accuracy, please check according to the second item of the first unit.

3.2. The computer is running and the machine is not moving. Check whether the connection between the computer control card and the electrical box is loose. If so, insert it tightly and tighten the fixing screws.

3.3. When the machine cannot find the signal when returning to the machine origin, check according to the second unit. The proximity switch at the machine origin is out of order.

4. Output Error.

4.1. No output, please check whether the computer and the control box are well connected.

4.2. Check whether the space in the settings of the routing manager is full, and delete the unused files in the manager.

4.3. Whether the signal line wiring is loose, carefully check whether the lines are connected.

5. Routing Failure.

5.1. Whether the screws of each part are loose.

5.2. Check whether the path processed by yourself is correct.

5.3. Is the file too large?

5.4. Increase or decrease the spindle speed to adapt to different materials (usually 8000-24000).

5.5. Loosen the tool chuck, turn the tool in one direction and clamp it, and put the knife upright, so as to avoid the routing object is not smooth.

5.6. Check whether the tool is damaged, replace it with a new one, and restart work.

Video Guide

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