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Introduction to cnc Router

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What is a Computer Numerical Control Router?

Computer numerical control (CNC) routers are a type of CNC machine that is distinguished by a larger flat bed on which the material to be cut is laid, as well as a spindle that travels over the work material mounted on a gantry (2 rails at 90 degrees to one another). In lower-end machines, that spindle is frequently a hand-held router, hence the name CNC Router (computer numerical control router).

It is possible to see the two rails as well as the De Walt trim router very clearly in this photograph:

CNC router in the shapeoko design

Computer numerical control routers (CNC routers) are sometimes referred to as Gantry mills because they are milling machines, and the crossed rails create a Gantry that transports the spindle around an XY coordinate space. The computer is in charge of controlling the spindle's movement. CNC is an abbreviation that stands for computer numerical control.

Machines like these are capable of milling, drilling, engraving, carving, and cutting the material that you're working with in a wide variety of ways. They are capable of cutting precise parts, but where they really shine is in tasks such as carving and engraving, which are difficult to complete in any other way.

What is the purpose of a CNC Router?

CNC Routers are capable of working with large but not extremely large dimensions. The work envelope of the Shapeoko CNC Router pictured above measures 17.5 inches in X, 17.5 inches in Y, and 4 inches in Z. As a result, they are typically used to create relatively flat objects, such as signs. To the contrary, they're excellent for woodworking and plastics work in general. They are sometimes referred to as CNC Wood Routers, which is an abbreviation.

In addition to cutting metal, non-gantry CNC mills are often preferable for maintaining the tight tolerances required by metal parts, although they are more expensive.

I'm wondering how much a CNC Router will set you back.

They can cost less than $1000 at the very low end of the spectrum. The other end of the spectrum is represented by massive industrial machines designed to cut metal, which can be extremely expensive. They easily cost well in excess of $100,000.

The most expensive machines are typically classified as metal-cutting CNC Routers, such as the Haas GR-series, or as machines designed to almost completely automate wood-cutting tasks, such as the Thermwood Auto-Processor, which are both very expensive. Machines of this type may have multiple cutting heads, as well as larger tables and automatic loading systems, among other features.

gantry mill made by haas

Gantry mill from Haas, model GR-Series. Take note of the size of the control panel on the right.

In terms of functionality, what is the difference between a CNC Mill and a CNC Router?

The crossed rail gantry is the most noticeable difference. A CNC Router is a type of CNC Mill, and when you want to emphasise the relationship between the two, you can refer to it as a Gantry Mill.