CNC Router Buying Guide Tips & Specifications
First what is a CNC router?
CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled. CNC routers are incredibly accurate and can be programmed to automatically drill, cut or carve materials and increase productivity. CNC routers are typically used in the furniture design and hobby woodworking. CNC routers can be used on many materials such as wood, plastics, foam, rubber and for light metal cutting or engraving projects. Learning about CNC routers is an important task
Typical CNC router buying guide, options and features
Here is our CNC router guide which lists several things to consider when purchasing a new router.
CNC Router Drive system- accuracy and quality of cut required
There are three types of drive systems used on CNC routers. The router drive systems used generally come in three types. They are ordered from least expensive to most expensive.
Buying a CNC router with a ballscrew can hold the best size and accuracy possible.
Router with a Stepper motor or servo motor?
Biggest differences in CNC router motors used is that the stepper motor moves based on pulses and does not generally receive feedback from actual location. Servos are constantly being monitored and correct position if necessary. Router servos also generally provide higher torque capabilities as well, but they also come with a much higher cost. See article Top ten stepper verse servo motor advantages and disadvantages for more information.
CNC Router Vacuum Systems.
In general vacuum systems function about the same. Things to look for would be how much vacuum pressure is available and how well the table will hold down your material. The more hold down force the heavier cut you can take depending on your material and router application.
Spindles come in many shapes and sizes. Depending on your application and cycle time you may want to take heavier cuts. Just like standard handhelp routers. You need to make a decision on the size of bits tooling and chucking system you will need. Most spindles on CNC routers are permanently greased bearings.
Tool Changer- CNC router with multiple heads or tools
If you need to hand load a CNC router one tool at a time for a hobby then you do not need this option. If you are using the CNC router for production and require usage of more then one tool then this will easily pay for itself in labor. There are many configurations of toolchangers, infact to many to get into the details. The best thing is to take a look at many different machines and figure out exactly what you need for most of your jobs.
There are many grades of CNC router bits. The main thing is to always have a sharp router bit!! Opt for high quality diamond tipped bits and avoid standard and carbide tipped bits for production run jobs.
CNC router size
When it comes to router size, this is something only you can determine. This could be a severe limiting factor for production quantities if you determine a better process if only the router could handle a bigger sheet.
CNC router costs
Costs vary from $5,000 for a little hobby bench top router to well over $150,000.
Will this CNC Router work for project?
If you are a manufacturing or industrial company you may want to ask the dealer or sales rep to run a sample or take some test cuts on the material you are running before you purchase the machine. With so many varying factors with CNC routers as compared to CNC machine tools which are capable of running almost everything, this can be critical in making your decision on a machine. You may also want to ask them if you can view the machine running at another customer as well.
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