What is a CNC Router? (Buying Guide)

What is a CNC Router Machine?

CNC router machines also known as computer numerical control router machines is computer-controlled devices used to carve out or cut through hard materials like wood, plastic, aluminum, etc.

CNC routers have varying configurations, from large industrial CNC routers to small homemade routers.

Despite the presence of a varying range of configurations, all CNC routers have specific parts which are all highly essential in the top functioning of these machines;

  • A dedicated CNC controller.
  • Servo motors or stepper motors.
  • A workplace bed or table.
  • One or more spindle motors.
  • Linear gears.
  • Servo amplifiers.
  • Ac inverter frequency drives.
  •  Ball screws.

Additionally, to hold the parts in place for cutting, CNC routers may have vacuum pumps with grid table tops or t-slot holds down fixtures.

The CNC formats usually available in CNC routers are the 3-axis and 5- axis. A and B axis are usually made available by manufacturers for full 5 axis capabilities and rotary 4th axis. 4′ x 8′ and 5′ x 10.’ are the common industrial CNC router sizes.

CNC router VS. CNC machine

A CNC machine is a general word that defines all sorts of machines that are automated and controlled by a computer. These machines include CNC routers, CNC laser engravers. CNC mills and many more. As such, a CNC router is basically a CNC machine. Also, it’s important to recognize that a CNC machine is not a CNC router. It’s essentially a general term for different machines.

CNC router vs. CNC mill

CNC routers and mills differ greatly in terms of performance. Contrary to that, they all have an exceptional ability to cut through different materials. CNC routers to be specific are suited for cutting soft materials such as wood and aluminum with precision. CNC mills, on the other hand, are best suited for cutting much harder materials such as titanium.

CNC Router Projects

CNC Router Videos (A brief introduction made by FORSUN)

Types of CNC Routers

When gathering the necessary information in order to purchase the right CNC router machine for you, it is important to take into account the various types of CNC routers.

Basically, a single CNC Router Machine cannot be able to articulate all the materials alone. As such, different components are needed and they are of two kinds. The Non-metal CNC Router and non-CNC Router Machine. The Non-metal CNC Router ones are further sub-divided into foam milling machines, advertising CNC Router, Wood CNC Router, and Stone Engraving Machine.

The first step for choosing the right CNC Router is getting to know the specific needs of your industry and all the processing materials that you will need to work on. For example, if you are going to purchase a Wood CNC Engraving Machine on stone, it’s not going to work at all.

1. CNC Wood Routers

These CNC machines are specifically made for wood processing especially furniture. It can be used to make items such as wooden doors, chairs, tables, cabinets, panels, office furniture, musical instruments, solid wood furniture and much more. The materials that are ideal for this type of processing include solid wood, plates, wood substitutes, etc. FORSUN has three kinds of CNC routers that can be used for the wood CNC machine.

ATC cnc router

ATC CNC router is simply designed with automatic change tool so that it can be used to perform various activities such as automatic engraving, drilling, cutting, milling, sanding, grooving, polishing hardwood, cork, solid wood, foam, plywood, stone, plastic, ceramic, acrylic, MDF, glass, ACM, copper, aluminum, PVC, brass, and various soft metals.

You will find two types of ATC CNC router: disc ATC CNC router and linear ATC CNC router. Since the machine is equipped with automatic changing tools, it means there is no manual work thus saving time while increasing the efficiency of the work done. The machine, however, is suitable for complex work and mostly used in industries dealing with high scale manufacture of furniture, cabinet doors, wooden doors, mahjong tables, computer desks, wooden loudspeakers body and many others.

multi-spindle cnc router

For this series of CNC router, each machine head is independent and can work separately or synchronously. You can adjust the space between spindles. This means that when you want the spindle to completely occupy the working table, you can adjust and extend it outwards. You can as well change the number of machine heads to 3 or 4 pieces. Compared with a common CNC router, the multi-head CNC router is more efficient and you can adjust the machine to work on a wider panel.

Nesting CNC router machine

The nesting cnc router is the gantry machining center designed for Nesting applications of wood and wood-based materials, but also plastic based and non-ferrous materials machining

2. Foam CNC milling machine

This type of CNC machine is used mainly for foam processing of automotive interiors, engineering plastic materials, casting wood molds and automotive stamping molds. It can also apply to other non-metal processing. The materials mainly used are thermoplastic, foam, resin and polystyrene materials, etc.

3. CNC Plasma cutting machine

The CNC plasma cutter is mainly used for processing aluminum plates, Iron plates, galvanized plates, titanium gold plates, and white steel plates.

4. Stone CNC Router Machine

The stone CNC router is used for processing different kinds of stone materials. They include marble, Blackstone, bluestone, jade, granite, glass. ceramics, PVC board, bamboo, wood and much more.

5. Advertising CNC Router machine

The advertising CNC router is mainly used for processing 3-dimensional characters, letters, badges, signs and crystal characters. The materials processed are usually acrylic, aluminum-plastic boards and PVC.

There are two types of CNC router in FORSUN that can be used as advertising CNC router.

mini cnc router

Mini CNC router has features such as operating at high speed, high-quality performance, and high precision. They are using a ball screw to run. It converts rotary moves to linear moves hence less resistance to friction.

With this small size machine, you will enjoy low maintenance costs, easy installation, durability, and sturdy construction. Apart from these, you can use the CNC machine to cut wood, foams, MDF, plastic, aluminum, PVC, etc.

Basic cnc router

Basic CNC router also can be named as the basic/beginner CNC router, they can process various materials like wood, MDF, PVC, acrylic, aluminum, copper is a system-controlled cutting and engraving machine. Used for the production of many different items, such as door carvings, interior and exterior decorations, signboards, musical instruments, furniture and so on. High speed and precision are the key benefits of a smart CNC router.

The smart CNC router has many configurations but the important configurations are system, spindle, motor, and drive.

CNC Router Applications

Have you ever wondered about the tools behind the detailed carving of letters on or flawless cutting through hard materials? Do you know what can you do with a CNC router? What are cnc routers used for?

The CNC router machine is capable of 2D and 3D cuts through composite materials, plastic and other hard materials with the help of CAD files and G-code programming.

As mentioned above CNC routers can be used to cut through or carve through varying hard materials but not all, so it is important to note which materials can be cut through using a common CNC router machine.

  • Woods suitable for cutting: Softwood, MDF, Chipboard, plywood, hardwood.
  • Plastics suitable for cutting: ABS, Acrylic, HDPE, PVC, UHMW.
  • Suitable stone: Pebbles, natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, slate, basalt, granite.
  • Suitable composite: Titanium Composite, Zinc Composite, Copper Composite, Aluminum Composite.

The materials listed above could be used in the;

Building Industry

  • For general woodworking.
  • To make a kitchen cabinet and doors
  • For the making of facades
  • Curtain walls and columns and balustrade.

Sign and Advertising

  • For the making of indoor and outdoor signage.
  • For engraving and bas-relief
  • 3D letters, and funerals.

Using the CNC router machines, these materials can also be used to make relief sculpture and 3D engraving and cylindrical project.

Advantages of CNC Router

There are so many reasons why CNC router machines have become a must-have in many industries in which the cutting through and carving of hard material is part of their procedures.

  • The High Efficiency

Unlike man, CNC machines can work continuously 24/7 only requiring relatively short periods of maintenance in-between. When designs are programmed in a CNC machine, they can be manufactured identically a countless number of times.

  • Cut Through Different Materials.

CNC routers are capable of creating programmed designs on so many different types of materials. If you need a single design to be cut through identically over about 30 different materials from wood to plastic, this device is perfect for that.

  • Limited Man Power Needed

When using a CNC router the only manpower needed is to program and monitor the robotics, also numerous CNC routers can be controlled by one person as the only tasks needed to be done after they begin running is occasionally changing the cutting tool.

  • Higher Safety Majors Enforced.

Manually controlled routers come with so many risks involving both the operator and the fabrication shops. Machitech automation CNC routers have complete safety features that go a long way to eliminate the possibility of accidents.

  • Precision Cuts

The best thing about CNC routers is the precision in which their cuts are being made. Unlike the manual cutters, CNC routers are capable of cutting through hard materials precisely, avoiding waste, as a result, increasing the profit margin.

Disadvantages of CNC Router

customer visit for CNC Router

As we mentioned above, in order for a CNC router to function efficiently very little manpower is needed, leading to an increase in the unemployment rate.

Also running the CNC router machines doesn’t take much time or training, making the numerous years and effort put by engineers and technicians to acquire certain skills uselessly.

Like many high-quality goods, the CNC router machines are very expensive, though the prizes are gradually coming down. The more efficient a machine, the more expensive it is.

How to choose the Best Suitable CNC Router Machine?

If you are looking at buying a CNC Router, please consider these insights:

  1. Choose a suitable CNC Router model with an ideal working size
  • If you make windows, doors and wooden doors the usual plate size is generally 1220 × 2440mm (4 × 8 ft). Next, you need to choose a suitable CNC Router machine for the table. An example is FORSUN’s FS1325 a CNC Cutting machine. Importantly it’s ideal to note that the ideal spindle motor that is ideal should preferably be above 6.0 KW. This is because the bearing supporting the spindle will likely wear quickly and lose accuracy if you are working with long-term woodworking works. In case the processing work becomes complicated, like the engraving patterns on doors and embossing, then multiple cutting materials will be needed. This is to ensure that the machine is completed quickly and you can further choose for an automatic tool change CNC Router Machine. One thing certain, the price of ATC CNC Router is 2 to 3 times more expensive. However, the automatic tool change CNC Wood Router is superbly fast, high precision, and greatly improves the production efficiency.
  • If you are looking to process cylindrical and special-shaped designs. Such as the table and chair legs of furniture, sanitary ware, castings, automobiles, yachts and other curved surfaces you can opt to choose four or five-axis linked machine centers. Examples are the 4 axis CNC Router produced by FORSUN and the bridge-type large scale gantry 5 axis CNC Routers also produced by FORSUN.
  • If you are looking at making furniture and you need to process wood in batches, consider choosing a multi-spindle CNC Wood Router.
  • In case you are using a carved wood board that is large, you will need to buy a CNC Wood Router with a table and pump vacuum. This is because the middle of the wooden material will bulge if you decide to fix the wooden board by fixes devices. This will result in different depths of carving. It is thus important to it ensure that you configure the vacuum system for the CNC Router.
  • If the production of your panel furniture is very large. The best options for these large amounts of processing are the auto loading and unloading system. The automatic loading and unloading CNC Router is produced by FORSUN. The auto labeling function of these machines helps to improve the overall production effectively.
  1. Choose the Right Type of Spindle

The spindle motor is divided into air-cooled, water-cooled and self-cooled types.

  • The water-cooled type of spindle is a high spindle speed (24000RPM) and has a good cooling effect but is complicated in terms of maintenance. You are required to always use clean water for cooling the system. Additionally, the scale involved will corrode the internal pipe fittings of the spindle when used for a long time.
  • The air-cooled spindle comes with a general speed classification of 18000RPM and is easy to maintain and use. The only difference is the cooling effect but not as good as the water type.
  • Customers can choose different power options based on the different materials used. For example, 1.5W, 2.2KW, 3KW spindles are ideal for working on acrylic plates and other advertising material boards.
  • The vibration of the spindle with small power is basically stable. This ensures that the surface of the caring materials is smooth with better effect.
  • If you are looking to cut and engrave on wood materials it is recommended that you use an electric spindle that is above 6KW and has a fast cutting speed and high efficiency.
  • For the carving bathroom and mold industry, a power that is above 10 KW is ideal. This ensures there are high cutting strength and processing speed too.
  • Due to the different functions present, this can be further be divided into manual tool, change spindle and automatic tool change spindle.
  • If you are looking at drilling holes frequently in your production, it is highly recommended that you install a boring head and Duo aggregate and C axis.
  1. Get to Know More about the Transmission

The transmission is made up of two distinct components; the ball screw drive and rack and pinion drive.

  • The ball screw drive is usually used in the small CNC Router for the advertising industry. This CNC type of Router Machine has got fine cutting with high precision. The processing intensity, on the other hand, is small at a slow speed.
  • The rack and Pinion Drive. The CNC engraving machine is made of rack and pinion drive and has a large cutting force with high speed. Contrary, its accuracy is a bit worse than of the screw-driven CNC Router Machine. The racks are divided into helical and straight teeth. The straight teeth rack is inferior to that of helical gears in terms of transmission accuracy while the meshing degree of racks and gears are much worse than those of helical teeth rack. On the other hand, the helical gear transmission is stable and has low noise with a large transmission torque. We highly recommend customers to choose imported branded helical gears like the German Helical racks.
  • Other types of transmissions include the gearbox and reducer. For the gearbox, it is belt driven and thus lowers the speed while at the same time increasing torque. It has low accuracy while at the same time it needs timing adjustments. The reducer, on the other hand, has low noise level and depicts high transmission accuracy.
  • The Linear Guide Rail. In the rail market industry, the Japanese and German brand guides are the best options. A good example is the Japanese THK automatic lubrication linear guide rails.
  1. Know the Servo Motor and Stepper Motor

The major difference between the two is; the servo motor is closed-loop control and the stepping is an open-loop control. More specifically it is essential to recognize that the servo motor is closed-loop control (comes with a completed by encoder feedback, etc.), this means that the speed of the motor is measured in real-time. On the other hand, the stepper motor is open-loop control. A pulsed stepper motor usually rotates at a fixed angular but the speed is not measured.

Another thing, the servo motor starts quickly than usual due to the large starting torque. The usual rated speed of this machine can be reached instantly in a short period. It is suited for usual starting and stopping and is a basic requirement for starting torque. Consequently, the power of the servo motor is usually large and is best suited for production purposes. For the stepper motors, the start is relatively slow when going through a low to high-frequency level. The stepper type of motors lacks the overload capability, while the servo motors have strong overload capability.

Lastly, the step and servo motion performance are very different. For example, if the dynamic frequency is too high and the load is large, it can cause a step loss or stalling. If the speed becomes too high, it can lead to an overshot. As such, to ensure the control accuracy is robust the problems of speed up and down should be checked and handled properly. The AC servo drive system is a closed-loop control and the driver can sample directly the feedback signal of the motor encoder. The speed loop and position loops are formed internally for save protection. One thing certain is the stop loss and overshot evident in the stepper motor rarely happen. The control performance tends to be more reliable as a result. In conclusion, it’s worth noting that in terms of price, Servo motors are more expensive compared to their stepper counterparts.

Let’s take a look at the pros of the servo motors over stepper motors

  • Accuracy Levels: The servo type of motor realizes a closed-loop control position, speed, and even the torque. It consequently overcomes the problem of step loss experienced in the stepper motor.
  • Rotating speed: The servo motor comes with a high-speed performance capability and it has been rated to reach a speed of up to 2000 – 3000 rpm.
  • Adaptability: The servo type of motor is built with a strong anti-overload ability that can withstand a load 3 times the rated torque capacity. It is ideal for situations where there are load fluctuations often and fast startup needs.
  • Stability: The servo type of motor usually operates at a lower speed and does not produce any sought of step loss phenomenon like the stepper motor when operating at low speed. It is perfectly made for situations where a high-speed response is essential.
  • Comfort: The heat and noise present in this type of servo motor are reduced significantly. You get a serene experience while working on your production efficiently.
  • Timelessness: The prompt and dynamic acceleration and deceleration of the servo motor is usually shortened to operate within a range of tens of milliseconds.

Based on the above info, I strongly believe that customers have been able to understand further the two types of motors. These two types of distinct motors have their advantages and disadvantages. When looking for a CNC engraving machine, customers have the freedom to choose the right motor configuration that is tailored to their specific needs. This will not only help in the overall adhering to processing requirements but also help to save costs greatly.

  1. Choose a suitable Operating System

The most commonly known and used OS of CNC Router Machines are the NC Studio, DSP, SIEMENS, Syntec and Mach3.

  • The Siemens operating control system can support up to 11 languages. These include Simplified Chinese, English, Czech, French, German, Italian, Polish, Korean, Spanish and not to forget Russian. A good pro about this control system is the high-speed signal transmission and the servo can be optimized automatically. Additionally, the system has the capability to identify the position of motor perfectly.
  • The Syntec control system is ideal for the Wood CNC Router industry. It is expensive to maintain, cheap to purchase and is offered with good after-sale service. It has been rated as a complete and the most professional PC based CNC controller in the Republic of China.
  • The NC Studio system of control is ideal for woodworking around the CNC Router Machines. It is worldly known for good stability. A friendly operation interface and allows for easy customization whilst being practical.
  • DSP control system comes with a user-friendly design and is handheld. The program files necessary for processing are copied directly to the DSP using a U disk that is easy to operate and use. It can achieve offline operation while also having the basic function of resuming for carving in case of any breakpoints.
  • The Mach3 controller system is made of an open numeric control system which is simple to operate and maintain. It has a stable performance capability and has a low price tag.
  1. Choose the appropriate software

For effective operation, the CNC Router Machine should be matched with the appropriate software. A good software guarantees that you do more for less.

  • For clients who are actively interested or are engaging in the furniture industry, software’s such as ArtCam, UcanCam, Type3 are highly recommended. Customers who have a large scale production base of furniture are advised to use CV (Cabinet Vision) software. It is an award-winning software for professionals who are working on different types of woodworks. This is the most trusted software that ensures your business grows. Models available here include design, pricing, and bidding, rendering, and cultist with report capabilities.
  • For clients involved in multiple productions of various models, UG, Powermill, MasterCAM, and AlphaCam are highly advocated for.
  1. The price budget

This is determined by the basis of the scale of enterprise being setup. For a large scale production firm we recommend the CNC Router Machining series. This type is efficient in terms of production and saves a lot of time and costs. For small scale factories, you can opt for an economical automatic tool change CNC or the ordinary wood CNC Cutting Machine. All these come at an economical price and are high-cost performing.

To avoid unnecessary losses that are caused by buying of CNC Router Machines not suitable for your industry you should take a factory visit. This will ensure that you get an inspection of the best Router tailored for your daily needs and the industry you are working in. Customers should always consider using a CNC engraving machine as proof to the machine manufacturer. This applies more so when working on processed products in daily work productions. Ensure that you calculate the ergonomics. Conduct a full performance test on the machine and decide what kind of CNC Router Machine ideal for you.

   8. Learn to check the quality of the CNC router

It is paramount to inspect the processing technology and machine quality of the CNC Router manufacturer factory.

#1. The first check is to ensure the machine bed of the CNC Router adapts well to a full-body steel structure with a stable structure. The accuracy of the work at hand is ensured even when under high processing strength. As such the CNC Wood Router will not deform or shake.

(Note: FORSUN is a distinguished CNC Router Machine manufacturer with a machining workshop that is independent to perfectly process your CNC engraving. The gantry of this component will be heat-treated followed by quenching and later annealed to relieve stress. The surface will then be pickled and then phosphate perfectly

The next step involves machine bed therapy where it is undertaken under vibration aging and natural aging treatments. The gantry CNC machining center is then used for milling and drilling the whole bed and beams to avoid errors caused by manual operations. This greatly improves the overall processing accuracy of the machine.)

#2: Another important aspect is the inspection of debugging and quality inspection of the whole Router CNC machine.

  • Geometric accuracy should be top-notch to ensure there are straightness and parallelism
  • The accuracy detection position of the 3 axis perpendicular can detect the X or Y-axis. This is to ensure diagonal errors of the material processed is minimized. Also, the perpendicularity of the Y to Z, X to Z axis and parallel of the main axis with the Z-axis are properly detected. This is to ensure the surface of the object on the plane is perfectly flat.
  • Next are the ball bar and laser interferometer inspection of the whole machine. A further detection and simulation of machine tool operation ensure the best state of machine tool is adhered to. The triple detection ensures machine has stable performance criteria and have high accuracy before they can leave the factory.

    9. Pay attention to the “After-sales service”

A great CNC router supplier should have the best after-sales services and regular training support.

There are always flaws no matter how your machine is. A reliable seller will offer an after-sales service where customers can choose the best offer for them. After purchasing a CNC machine the manufacturer should send experts to inspect, assemble and even debug the machine purchased. The technicians will help to start the machine to the comfort of customers. There is also continuous and systematic training to ensure that customers master all the techniques perfectly. In case there is an occurrence of a flaw the technicians will help to detect and eliminate the failure

How to use CNC Routers?

How does a CNC router work?

In order for the desired paths to be created for this efficient tool to work, software packages are needed which help create toolpaths and NC codes.

The type of machine you have selected determines the processes you need to put in place to get the machine running.

To get things started, firstly, you need to upload a picture or file of the design into a drawing software (CAD).

The CAD ( Computer-Aided Design ) will convert your design into vectors.

Once your files have been converted into vectors, you can now go ahead to select the tool or toolpath that you will like the machine to make

At this phase you have a lot of control over the system;

You could decide to use either a 25-inch v-bit or a 75-bit inch core box bit.

You could also change the speed and cut depth of the router at this stage.

Once you are done selecting the tools, you can now proceed to select the toolpath, which involves either tracing the vectors, cutting outside the vectors or cutting inside the vectors; whatever you decide depends on what you need.

We are now done with our selection of the toolpath, the next step is uploading the vectors into the G-code software ( this can be seen as the control panel of the CNC router ).

The G-code software converts the vectors into G-code where you will see X, Y, Z coordinates. (X is horizontal to the table, Y is vertical to the table and Z is perpendicular to the table).

Now we are working with G-code, our next step is to determine the center point of the hard material ( this is very important for our next stages).

Now we know the center of the material, our next step is to load the material on the table and make it firm with clamps to avoid it moving when the cutting process begins.

After clamping the material to the table, you will need to adjust the machine until the router bit is directly over the center point of the material you marked.

Once the router bit has been adjusted to be directly over the material, you now need to bring it down to meet the surface of the material ( avoid digging into the material with the bit ).

This point should be marked as your absolute zero (creating a starting point once your machine is up and running ).

After noting the absolute zero point, bring the machine up a few inches and you are set to begin.

You can now go ahead to select the run G-code function for the machine to begin cutting your design.

CNC Router Maintenance Checklist

Most CNC routers are now using high technology sophistication to ensure that the sign shops provide customers with precise and shaping. These machines can be productive for over 20 years and in fact, they are the biggest investments sign shops have ever made.

Looking at it from a business point of view, the longer your machine runs smoothly, the more income you are likely to generate. Having a router that cannot operate for long without breaking down will affect your company’s productivity. To your consternation as a company owner, you will witness a negative impact on the productivity of your company.

Mostly, the router’s design has nothing to do with its downtime but rather the maintenance practices. All routers come with a maintenance program recommended by the manufacturers. However, employees working at the sign shops may fail while following the maintenance program.

However, you do not have to conclude that any default to your router is caused by negligence in following the manufacturer’s guide. A small default left unattended for a while can lead to larger problems to your machine. The defaults can be because of workforce shortage on a certain day or failure to dedicate the required time during the production of the CNC router.

To be honest, the problem is still the same no matter what caused it. The thing is how you should go about rectifying the problem or prevent it from occurring. Do not ignore things since even small defaults can contribute to shortening your router’s lifespan. Attend to each maintenance practice starting from lubrication proper tooling in the router’s spindle. Though you should not be comfortable if your machine continues to operate normally after carrying out maintenance activities. There might be undesirable damages accumulated over time that can shorten the lifespan of your CNC router.

Keeping your tooling equipment clean will ensure that you get a finished edge that is well polished.

Avoid Pitfalls Shortcuts.

Following the maintenance protocols by your manufacturer, the CNC can have a productivity life of over 20 years. Ensure that you observe every program as recommended. Whether it is daily, monthly or weekly. CNC router machines are designed and made to handle heavy duties. Failure to observe the manufacturer’s recommendation can significantly affect the router’s lifespan.

Murphy’s Law, which suggests that anything can go wrong in any condition, applies in CNC machines. Anything given a chance can go wrong. As a sign shop owner, you should not give your router a chance to go wrong. What is the worst thing in any company more than having machines that are not functioning? Ensure that you attend to your machine, identify any threats, and solve them as early as possible. This will ensure that your CNC router operates efficiently and for a longer period.

Your CNC router may experience downtime caused by issues not related to maintenance. Electric outage because of too much dust on your CNC router can be the reason you are experiencing problems while working with your router. Although, these occurrences are very rare. Improper maintenance is the main problem associated with CNC router failure. If you do not observe the maintenance practices as required, production cost and workforce will consequently increase.

Andrew Kovach, a Barbican Products Architectural shop supervisor (this is an industrial lighting and commercial company in Erie Fort operating three routers) suggests that he has experience in how improper machine maintenance can affect the productivity of any organization.  The supervisor advises regular lubrication to avoid damaging the bearing and finally shutting them down.

However, Andrew suggests that he follows the maintenance protocols as per the manufacturer to lubricate the bearings after every 2 weeks. If the machine is performing heavy tasks, the supervisor has to ensure lubrication after every 40 hours of machine working. He attributes that observing the recommendations by manufacturers has increased the efficiency and reliability of the CNC routers. One of the router has been operating for 12 years now. The main work of these routers is to cut plastics and metals in an environment described by Andrew as dusty. The dirty and dust can be due to MDF, and other shades and fixtures. As the company keeps the manufactured hardware, shades and lenses on-site, this does not interrupt router operations.

The supervisor says that router downtime is very rare in the company. Besides, in case of it, it is normally resulted by things to do with electrical which is a field they are capable of handling.

Sometimes you may find yourself not following the manufacturer’s router maintenance protocols. This can happen when you want to deliver customer services before the deadline or during times of large workloads. However, you should work as much as you can to avoid interfering with the router’s maintenance schedule. Once you know the value of your CNC router and the expense you might incur by failing to observe the manufacturer’s recommendations, you will avoid the case at all costs. As a shop manager, you have to ensure that routine maintenance practices such as lubrication are taken care of daily. The router is the most important thing in your shop; ensure that you attend to all maintenance practices without shortcuts for the good of your company.

The best thing is that you can easily perform the router maintenance practices as recommended and the whole practice does not consume much time. For instance, lubricating bearings and racks only takes a few minutes. With today’s technology on routers, the process is simplified further. There are internal logs that automatically updates the user of any detected issue on the CNC router. You can check daily updates on how your CNC machine is working in the automatic logs. The solution and history of any default in the machine are documented too. This feature is very helpful in avoiding unexpected downtime while production is going on.

Due to the busy schedule by most companies, the staff can easily forget some router maintenance steps. Fortunately, you can get a modified router that has the entire maintenance database log (that is daily, weekly and monthly). This will record the time and date off every action-taking place on the machine thus following the prescribed CNC router maintenance schedule. The manufacturers can also gain access and send reports of every day’s router activity to the top manager.

General Guidelines

Different router models might require a different maintenance schedule. The following guidelines are general you can apply them to any type of CNC router.

  • Ensure Cleanliness.

CNC router gets dirty easily. This can be due to most of the operating in dusty environments. With this, you have to ensure your machine is clean most of the time. Chips and fluids buildups can easily enter the controls and bearings. Failure to attend to this early can be a very good recipe for router downtime. Ensure that you clean your CNC machine daily.

Manufacturers’ advice that you hand sweep your CNC machine. You can also get rid of substances accumulated on the bearings using an air gun. While cleaning your CNC router, you are directed to lower its air pressure.

Lubricating the track system can also be a great way of avoiding downtimes while in the production process.

  • Changing Filters

Similar to clogged filters that can affect the efficiency of an engine of any automobile, ensure that you change the vacuum pumps and router’s control box to make sure your router runs smoothly while working. Also, change the water, trap oil and filter in the pneumatic lines.

The accepted rule is to check the filter weekly and change them in case the need arises. Although, how regular you should observe this activity depends on the type of the CNC machine, materials being cut and environmental factors surrounding the machine such as dirt and dust.

  • Lubrication

CNC router has many parts. Despite this, they do not need extensive lubrication. However, if you fail to observe the activity, you will witness machine breakdowns. Any malfunction resulted from failure to lubricate your router can void the warranty by manufacturers.

Lubrication is a very basic step in router maintenance. Although reminders will help you emphasize how important it is, try to observe the activity without a reminder. However, how often you should lubricate your machine can vary depending on the machine type, surroundings and extent of machine use; pumps, oscillating knives, and bearing need regular lubrication.

  • Ensure clean air supply

Most routers operate using pneumatic air. This air has to be of a certain pressure more than 522 kPa, dry and very clean. Ensure that you check the air pressure regularly since failure to observe this specification will damage your CNC router in a very short period.

  • Provide proper and safe electrical power

Ensure that local power companies connect your CNC router to safe and sufficient electricity according to regulations. Poor electrical grounding such as insufficient capacity and low voltage can damage your CNC machine. Just as in any computer-operated machine, a small power spark can result in serious damage to the machine.

A detailed schedule

Every CNC router has a preventive maintenance guide by the manufacturer including cleaning steps, checking to pump oil, cleaning cover threads and nut, inspection forms among others.

Inspection forms cover greasing of bearings, pinions and racks, gasket repair and filter cleaning monthly.

Beyond the Router Maintenance Checklist

Sign makers using CNC machines learned that sometimes you have to go beyond the checklist. You have to attend to faults that may arise on your router even if you have done all required by the checklist.

As a shop manager, you need to ensure that each employee understands that interfering with the maintenance procedure can affect productivity negatively.

The best way to ensure that your CNC router works efficiently and with reliability is by following what the CNC router manufacturer recommends.

4 thoughts on “What is a CNC Router? (Buying Guide)

  1. Avatar
    Ernesto Rios says:

    Good afternoon my name is Ernesto Rios I have interesting on cmc machine 4×8 for furniture kitchen cabinets and cabinets doors
    Can you please contact me

  2. Javier Munoz
    Javier Munoz says:

    We bought a machine for kitchen cabinets and doors using full sheet 18mm MDF 1220×2440. The machine is working fine! Thanks for their engineer help me. and I may even purchase from them again in the future as long as the tariffs don’t skyrocket!

    • Avatar
      BetaCNC says:

      Thank you for your kindly comment. It is quite honorable to provide the best machine and service to you. Forsun CNC will provide service for future. If you still have new enquiry or questions, pls send mail to nelson@forsuncnc.com or whatsapp 0086-13287753168

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