What Does a CNC Router Machine Do?

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CNC routers provide a range of advantages to woodworkers: efficiency, precision, versatility, and reduction of waste in a shop. Also, their ability to work on different materials across a wide range of applications for large-scale productions and hobbyists are an additional bonus.

Most CNC routers cost more than the average home devices and are pretty large. However, these days some manufacturers are downsizing the machines to make desktop CNC routers. Thus, you can purchase a turn-key package for less than $3000, screw the parts together, load the program into your home computer, and perform some woodworking tasks.

The desktop CNC routers can’t slice plywood sheets into cabinet parts, but they can cut small pieces, e.g., drawer fronts or door panels, work on decorative carving, and make some joinery parts. Here are more applications of the CNC router machine.


Signs require intricate cutting, which varies in depth and angle of each cut. CNC routers equipped with three-axis motion help carve out the sophisticated engravings in a range of materials including wood, aluminum, bronze, and plastic. 

Whether you want to make a small-scale 2D project or a complex 3D signage component, the CNC machine gets the job done quickly and with much precision. What’s more, devices equipped with a vision system, increase accuracy and efficiency for users that need to register the tool path when crafting carvings or signage.

CNC routers also come in handy to users who want ADA-compliant signages, an essential feature for many modern sign shops. The machine produces excellent results with adequate character spacing, tactile text, and more complying with complex ADA signage regulations.

Aluminum and Brass Machining

When working with tough materials like brass and aluminum, you need an equally complex device that can cut them. CNC routers help save money and time in the shop while producing excellent results.

The only challenging part is to determine the right spindle RPM and proper feed rate when working on the materials as they interact differently with the blade.

Rapid Prototyping

CNC routers were the first evident break-through in the field of rapid prototyping. Previously parts would be machined by hand, leading to large margins of error on the end product, more so when machines were used for mass production.

CNC routers eliminate the need for hand-carved prototypes, which often need to be done all over again. With the machine, you can create a working model within minutes, test, analyze, and make the necessary modifications.

The production speed of CNC routers enables users to work within project timelines and create lifelike prototypes accurately to inform future decisions.

Cabinet Making

CNC routers are the perfect devices for milling interior shelves, cabinet doors, and boxes. These simple components need mass production, and while different designs are easy to make, they should all have a uniform shape.

Also, intricate furniture and cabinet designs are quickly brought to life via 2D, 3D, and four-axis capabilities, delivering a smooth finish at the moment of completion. The CNC router program ensures perfect cuts are made, and the ability to change its programs allows a great deal of flexibility with a single investment in equipment.

Lead times and material handling are minimized, and the quality of the cabinet making process is improved.

Instrument Production

The precision capabilities of CNC routers are pretty evident when creating musical instruments. Each part needs to be cut to the right specifications and should interact properly to produce a range of sounds. With a CNC router, it is easy to work on the neck carving, body, fretwork, and the inlays with much precision and speed required by a busy artist.

The artists also get to work on the finer details that make the instrument unique. CNCs also come in handy when creating one-of-a-kind musical instruments.

Finding the Right CNC Router 

Choosing the right CNC router can be challenging for first-time buyers. Here are essential factors to consider when choosing the right machine:

The Target Material

Ensure the router you choose is specially designed to work with the component’s material. Some machines are designed to work on wood, plastics, metals; thus, using the wrong one damages your drill bit and may cause it to slip, ruining the workpiece.

Sometimes, the melted chips and plastic makes its way into the cutting mechanism damaging the router.

SWAP Limits

SWAP is an acronym for space, weight, and power. It is used in industries to define the requirements by which the machine should be evaluated.

  • Space: If your space is limited, e.g., when you have a woodworking shop with other tools like a table saw, planer, chop saw, lawn care equipment among others you want a machine with a compact build like a benchtop machine
  • Weight: It is an essential factor when looking for a portable device. A mini-mill should be adequate for the average hobbyist, but if looking for a machine to work on different materials and projects, a large, heavy-duty machine should do
  • Power: Look at the power requirement of the device and determine if your power source can generate enough power. You don’t want to risk using the Tormach PCNC 1100 without solid ground. Residences equipped with a three-phase power supply can power industrial-grade equipment. Alternatively, you can purchase a phase converter to help power an industrial-grade machine in a residential setting.

Unit Price

CNC routers are pretty expensive, but it does not mean you have to break the bank to purchase one. If working within a budget, it’s crucial to understand your needs beforehand. Hobbyists, for example, don’t need to splurge on the machine. 

Similarly, manufacturers should avoid spending on equipment they will quickly outgrow. Also, identify the replacement parts the machine may need in the future and their cost. If they are hard-to-find or overly-priced, consider buying a different device.

Models that can be Upgraded

Innovation is constant, especially in the assembly industry. Manufacturers who want to stay ahead of the curve should consider upgrading their services as well. Buying an upgradeable CNC router like the Cobra and Stringer series helps the company stay ahead of its competition.

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