CNC Routers

CNC Routers

Desktop CNC Routers: Applications and Specifications

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Desktop CNC routers (Computer Numeric Control) are used to precisely mill machined parts from blocks or sheets of stock materials - metal, wood, or plastic. A desktop CNC router has a computer-controlled cutting head that moves on three axes: front to back (x-axis), side to side (y-axis), and up and down (z-axis). The CNC is designed to allow precise and repeatable forming of three-dimensional parts.

Typical applications for desktop CNC routers

Desktop versions are primarily used for rapid prototyping. Engineers can use desktop CNC routers to fabricate parts to test a design prior to committing to a full manufacturing run. An in-house desktop CNC router can greatly reduce the time and cost of making prototype parts, and prevent the high margin costs found with many third-party prototype houses. Once the drawing is complete, this type of machine works to repeatedly cut exact duplicates of a designed part.

Due to the amount of time it takes for the cutting head to trace the entire contour of the desired part, CNC routing is generally not cost effective for large quantity runs when compared to plastic molding, die casting, or other similar mass-production processes. However, a desktop CNC router can be used to make molds when larger prototype runs are required.

Other applications for this type of router include custom engraving, cutting shapes from sheet stock, or carving surface designs into wood or steel.

Faster changes

Most woodworkers understand that they must try out a design first before deciding if it works or not. CNC router tables take out a lot of the guesswork by pre-programming the dimensions into the attached PC. And if something doesn't feel right, you can simply tweak the dimensions.

Important specifications

Here are some of the features you should investigate when comparing different desktop CNC routers:

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