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CNC Router: Definition and How It Works

CNC Router: Definition and How It Works

A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) router is a machine that can cut complex shapes from wood, plastic, and metal materials. CNC routers are a type of CNC machining . Since a CNC router’s cutting tool can only move along the Z-axis in a limited way, it can only process thinner materials such as sheet metal or wood. A CNC machine, on the other hand, is the opposite of a CNC router in that it can move along the Z-axis in a much wider range.

A CNC router is usually controlled by a computer, which tells the CNC router to move the rapidly rotating cutting tool to different positions to cut the desired part. This article will describe the different components of a CNC Router, the materials that can be cut, and some of the common industrial uses of this technology.

What is a CNC Router?

CNC machine

A CNC router uses a rotary tool to cut wood, polyurethane foam, plastics, and soft metal materials. It is a subtractive manufacturing process. CNC routers are typically gantry-type machines with a spindle that moves back and forth along the Y-axis and left and right along the X-axis.

A CNC router is different from a regular CNC machine because it cannot quickly cut hard metals with complex shapes. A gantry CNC router is not as hard as a regular CNC machine, so it cannot cut harder metals. This is why gantry CNC routers can only cut soft materials such as wood and less hard metals.

Also, it is important to realize that CNC router’s cutting tools have a limited range of movement along the Z-axis, which means they cannot cut deep holes and slots.

How Does a CNC Router Work?

A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) router moves the tool to any specific x, y, and z position within the machine’s work area. The tool or a high-speed spindle with a cutting tool then cuts the material into place. Depending on the material and part to be machined, different cutting tools can be used. On more advanced machines, the ATC (Automatic Tool Changer) can change these tools for you. On less advanced machines, the tools must be changed manually.

Related reading:how does a CNC machine work?

What Controls the CNC Router?

The operation of the CNC router is controlled by a set of servo motors. These motors take position information from the control circuit board. The board then takes the G-code supplied by the user and translates it into the exact set of coordinates of the material to be cut to create the finished part.

What Are the Benefits of a CNC Router?

If you compare the CNC router to a CNC machine, the main improvement is that it is less expensive. Since CNC routers are inexpensive, it is a technology that small businesses can easily master. They can greatly increase the overall productivity of a company.

In most cases, the cutting tool is attached to the spindle of the CNC router. Since the wheel rotates quickly, the tool cuts the part. A specialized spindle is sometimes attached to the CNC router. On the other hand, standard off-the-shelf routers are often mounted on the X-axis of inexpensive machines as an alternative to the spindle.

CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) tools are required to run a CNC router. You can use a CAD program to make a 3D model of the part you need. a CAM program converts the CAD model into G-code, which are machine-readable instructions.


What Are the Different Components of a CNC Router?

A CNC router typically consists of four main parts:


The bed is where the raw material is placed. Some beds have more than one hole or connection point. This makes it easier to install fixtures and hold the raw material in place while it is being cut.


Usually consists of multiple stepper controller drivers that control the speed of the spindle/mill and the motion of the stepper motors.


The CNC router has a stepper motor or servo motor for each of the three axes of motion. Stepper motors are more common in cheaper hobbyist machines. Servo motors, on the other hand, are more expensive but provide more precise positioning. The cutting tool is driven by a separate high-speed motor.


The spindle turns the cutting tool at a speed suitable for use. A gantry is usually mounted on top of the bed to hold the grinding wheel. The gantry can be moved back and forth along the Y-axis and left and right along the X-axis.

What Materials Can a CNC Router Cut?

The CNC router is typically used to cut non-metallic materials such as Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), plywood, acrylics, urethane foam, and polyethylene sheets. It can also cut softer metal materials such as brass and aluminum. Of course, in some cases, it can also cut steel.

Metals such as steel are rarely cut with a CNC router. This is because the way they are constructed and their general shape make cutting these materials difficult and error-prone. However, the CNC router can be engraved on harder materials such as rocks.

What Areas Is the CNC Router Suitable for?

Since CNC router is less expensive than regular CNC machines, it is widely used in many fields. Some of the common industries include these below:

  • Furniture: CNC router is used to manufacture many different types of wooden or plastic furniture parts.
  • Models: CNC router can also be used to make wood models which are then used to make sand molds for casting metal. Making wood models with the CNC router is both cheap and easy.
  • Packaging: A CNC router can easily cut Styrofoam into customized boxes for packaging fragile or valuable items.
  • Advertising: The CNC router can engrave unique letters on signs and other advertising items. You can use wood or plastic for these signs.

How do I Choose a CNC Router Service?

What kind of work needs to be done and what is the skill level of the person using the CNC router? They are two of the most important things to consider when buying a CNC router service. If you need to cut small pieces of wood and foam, a do-it-yourself CNC router may be able to fulfill your needs.

If you need to produce parts in large quantities and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a CNC router. Then you can choose a business that specializes in CNC router services. Before choosing the right CNC router service provider, you can ask for quotes from different service providers to find out what services they can offer. Consider your situation comprehensively and finally choose the right CNC router service provider for you.

In Short

This article introduces CNC routers and discusses things to keep in mind when using CNC milling machines in manufacturing. For more information on CNC routers, contact the service professionals at China Casting Synergy Group.

For all of your testing and production needs, China Casting Synergy Group can provide a variety of different manufacturing services such as CNC machining and other value-added services. You can visit our website to learn more about us or to get a free, no-obligation quote.