How Deep Can a CNC Router Cut?

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A CNC router is an automated cutting machine that helps make the manufacturing process more productive while still improving product quality. You can use these routers to cut a broad range of items such as aluminum and wood, thereby making it a very versatile cutting device.

Therefore, there is no manufacturing need that a CNC router can fail to deliver while still ensuring everything is being carried out efficiently. Additionally, these machines incorporate numerous other desirable traits that make it, without a doubt, the most powerful and best cutting solution to ensure you remain competitive in this ever-increasing global marketplace.

However, with this technology still relatively new, you might have reservations about its effectiveness. Therefore, in this article, we will take you through how deep a CNC router can cut different materials, as well as the factors that affect how deep these cuts are.

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​How deep will your CNC router cut?

The cutting depth your CNC router can achieve usually depends on your machine’s rigidity as well as its size. For instance, a reliable CNC router can cut through medium-density fiberboard (MDF) that is 18mm thick in a single pass. However, the primary issue you will encounter when using this machine is deflection.

So, if you are cutting through an 18mm thick MDF with a decent feed rate, your device will most likely bend and break. Furthermore, using an inaccurate feed rate affects the subsequent outcome negatively and also causes the CNC router to become incorrect and creaky. Thus, running your tool very slowly makes it gum up with the melted material or burning the material altogether.

In general, the best rate CNC routers can cut acrylic plexiglass at 120 inches per minute at a depth of 0.003 inches, whereas plywood is cut at 80 inches per minute, and the depth per pass is approximately 0.4 inches. The cutting depth and how fast it can be achieved is affected by factors such as the temperature of the material and the sharpness of the end mill. Additionally, when setting the target cut depth, you need to set it slightly more profound than the actual thickness of the material. For instance, if you want to cut a 0.75” plywood, set the depth at approximately 0.8 inches to ensure a complete-depth cut.

When cutting or engraving thick material, you should first divide the cut’s total depth into numerous step-down. Doing this makes the process of machining safer and also extends the cutting tool’s lifespan. For instance, when looking to cut an MDF sheet that is 20mm thick, you should set the step down at 10mm so that the sheet material is cut after two step down times. Likewise, three step down times cuts 30mm, four step down times cuts 40mm, and the pattern continues. Therefore, there is no upper limit to the maximum depth your CNC router can achieve, but there is a limit to every step down.

Factors that affect the CNC router’s step down the depth

The configuration of the CNC router

Whereas the appearance of all CNC routers is identical, the manufacturing technology behind it varies considerably. Usually, machines that incorporate better production technology provide you with better stability and higher rigidity. Moreover, this tool delivers an improved machine performance like a greater step down as well as enabling faster feed rates. Thus when looking for a CNC router, you should not only focus on configuration and price but instead on the type of technology the machine features. This is important as it determines the quality of the device and is something that most individuals overlook.

The workpiece material

The depth, as well as the speed of your CNC router, can achieve is usually dependent on the hardness of the material you are planning to cut. When cutting materials with high rigidity, you should set a slower feed rate plus the depth of the cut needs also to be smaller. Thanks to this slight stew down. Your CNC router will be safer, better, and faster.

The router bit size

The bigger your CNC router, the deeper the cut it can achieve in comparison to a smaller one. Consequently, this helps improve not only the quality but also the machine’s efficiency. If you want to make the desired cut depth, you need to ensure that you set the appropriate feed rate, step down as well as proper cutters.

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Factors that the CNC router’s cut depth can impact

  • Power requirements: When the material removal rate is greater, the spindle power also required increases.
  • Material removal rates: With all other factors remaining constant, you can remove most of the materials by ensuring the CNC rioter cuts a maximum width and depth.
  • Heat: When using appropriate speeds and feeds, most of the heat is taken out to the chip, but if left unmonitored, it can accumulate on the cutter, consequently destroying it faster.
  • Tool deflection: The more power you direct to cutting through higher spindle power, the bigger the cutting forces, as well as, the higher the likelihood of tool deflection.
  • The CNC router’s ability to clear chips: Chip clearing is a whole lot easier when you expose more of your CNC router through narrower cutting depths. Nevertheless, forcing the machine into thinner slows with broad cut widths makes the subsequent slots extremely deep compared to the cutter diameter. Thus, this makes it difficult to clear the chips since you most likely are re-cutting chips, and this reduces your machine’s life considerably.


If you were curious about how deep your CNC router can cut, you now have an idea of what you should expect. Furthermore, you also know of the factors that affect the depth that the CNC router can cut as well as the various issues that a cut depth can impact.

Therefore, you are now better placed to know the depth you can achieve using your CNC router when cutting through different materials. Consequently, thanks to understanding how to get the desired depth with your CNC router, your work is not only made easier but also safer and more precise.

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