How to Make Money with a CNC Router: Five Small Business Ideas

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So, you’ve bought a new CNC router to help you run your own fulltime business and earn a profit for your increasingly evolving lifestyle. Congratulations! It doesn’t hurt to try after all. Who knows, you could be the next successful person in the automotive, cabinetry or other related industry you wish to engage in. Now, the next step is determining how would you use it to generate a whopping income. Don’t know how to get started? Don’t fret – we’ve got you covered! 

Computer Numerical Control or also known as CNC router is a big-ticket item for wood hobbyists, companies, etc. It is worth every single of your penny as long as cutting and designing concerns. It is able to cut through most material such as plastic, wood, aluminum, and steel. There are easy to use and newer models available in the market that can accommodate any individual preference and budget. 

First of all…

What is a CNC or Computer Numerical Control Router? 

For those who are not well familiar with CNC router, it is a machine that operates on computer-driven technology that involves making seamless cuts and patterns much smoother when produced. We can say that it is somewhat identical to the CNC mill in some aspects. It increases overall productivity, minimizes waste of materials, and creates plenty of items in a much smaller span of time than other machines. 

Also: Our Top CNC Picks for Small Shops

Most models are very large in size and actually take up a great amount of space. But these days, you can find newer desktop routers that are much smaller and can be placed on a big table. They’re not as powerful as the industrial-sized counterparts though. So, it’s a good option for small businesses and home applications. 

How Does it Work?

To operate a router, you need to have general computer skills, software, and of course, a computer. The CAD or Computer Assisted Design is a program that is run off by the machine. It is designed both for engineers and designers to help them in assessing or making the designs of their own, be that designing automotive parts, a house, or other objects. 

The software will then show your designs in either 3D or 2D. The information and image are converted into vectors and command for the machine to use and maneuver. Select from various tool paths available in your software as well as opt for the bits you need for a particular cut or pattern. 

What the CNC router then does is cut the material to the smallest measurement and detail with optimal precision. This results in fewer redo’s, less cutting mistakes, and less wasted materials. It is fully capable of creating highly intricate and accurate contours and shapes. These results are accomplished through 3 axes known as X (horizontal), Y (vertical), & Z (perpendicular to the X and Y axes).  

Materials That a CNC Router Machine Can Handle

When it comes to the materials that this machine can process, the list is limitless. Among them are: 

  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Aluminum 
  • Foam
  • Stone
  • MDF
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Acrylic 
  • PVC
  • ACM

The machine’s versatility is not a question too. Some of the possible applications of router machine include aerospace, cabinetry, 2D and 3Dcarving, sign making, cabinetry, exhibits and fixture, aluminum fabrication, and architectural millwork. 

Related: These CNC Routers are Great for Sign-Making

A 2 axis cnc router will be ideal for hobbyists while small-sized to medium-sized businesses opts for a 3 or 4 axis machine. Industries related to boating, automobile, or aerospace usually use the 5-axis router. 

How to Earn Good Money with Your CNC Router

Fortunately for you, there are many ways you can do to make money using the machine. Again, the list won’t hinder you from exploring all the income opportunities! 

  1. Cabinets and furniture – CNC routers could be your best tool for milling anything from cabinet boxes and interior shelves to wooden items like countertops. No matter how small or big, the task is, the machine could do the job well. Computer guidance makes sure that every cut is accurately beautiful. 
  2. Sign making – If sign making is one of your talents, then it might be the right time to invest in a router and see the fruitful rewards later. The machine is commonly used for carving signs in various materials, which include aluminum, wood, bronze, and plastic. You won’t have issues with 3D designs. 
  3. Woodworking – Master craftsmen now realize the benefits of owning a router for their delicate work. Create game pieces, toys, and even intricate lettering set and designs in bigger items. 
  4. Custom outlet & switch covers – If you want something that is not related to wood, the options for switch covers and outlet are vast. With the router’s power, you can provide your clients with almost perfect matching switch covers and outlets that are guaranteed to complement well with the design of a property. 
  5. Instrument production – Neck and body carving, fretwork, and inlays can be carried out with the speed and accuracy demanded by an artist. Therefore, allowing you to concentrate on finer details that make the instrument highly intricate and unique.

These are just some of the ideas you can try to make money using your CNC router machine. Other options include cutting aluminum and plastic sheets as well as copying the skills of an artisan which you see in carvings, corbels, etc. 

For You: CNC Routers that Can Handle Aluminum

How to Pick the Right CNC Router for Your Project

What do you plan to use the router for? You’ve surely determined that there are different types of CNC router out there. Hence, think about your main reason for having the need to buy a machine in the first place. Make sure it will cover everything you need to do. 

Durability and reliability are also crucial. Look for a machine that you can heavily depend on for normal and bigger workloads. Ensure also that it can withstand hefty use for a long span of time. 

Lastly, know your budget. Remember that not all costly models are high-quality, and not all lower-cost models are poor in quality. A thorough research is your best alternative. The most important here is to find a router with all the features you’re looking for, and that perfectly fits your budget. 

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