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Choosing a CNC Router

A CNC router is an automatic tool with a computer-controlled system. Utilized for cutting, drilling, milling, engraving, and certainly routing, a CNC router is perfect for lighter materials, such as foam, glass, PVC, MDF, copper, brass, acrylic, aluminium, and plastics. Akin to a milling machine, a CNC router can produce complex and precise shapes with different router bits moving along the axles. CNC routers are available in all sizes with different capabilities from heavy-duty industrial routers to the entry-level benchtop types meant for small businesses, hobbyists, and do-it-yourself fans. Some high-end routers have an automatic tool changer and others have a 4th-axis rotary feature. You need to be careful when buying a CNC router to get one that suits your needs. This page outlines some factors of consideration in order to buy the right CNC router.

Drive system. Your drive system moves the axes of your tool. It is comprised of the ball screw, lead screw, motor, and pinions, working jointly to transfer controlled linear movement. CNC machines provide a selection of three drive systems:
Rack and pinions – work finest on longer axes and are cost-friendly.
Lead screws are generally more precise than the rack and pinion; however, don’t perform as well as ball screws. They’re best for vertical uses.
Ball screws are the costliest of the drive systems; however, they machine your parts with greater efficiency and accuracy.

Motor system. There are two types of motor systems for CNC routers:
Stepper motor systems are at times known as open-loop control motors. These motors rotate from one position to another, do not cost much, and are great for low-to-medium-pace uses.
Servo motor systems are usually referred to as closed-loop systems, cost more than steppers, but are great in high-pace, high-torque uses.

CNC router’s weight. Heavier CNC routers generally offer heavy-duty performance, accurate machining, and less vibration. However, you should consider a desktop router if you intend to move your CNC machine often. Keep in mind the fact that lightweight benchtop types have a tinier working area that limits the kind of work you can do.

Electrical requirements. You should know the electrical capabilities of your facility because some CNC routers are meant to work only with particular voltages. Ensure you have 3-phase power, or you’re going to have to install it if you purchase a more complex model. If you yearn for a desktop model, it most probably will come with single-phase power and function in your home shop.
Your uses. Before you start shopping for a CNC router, determine your likeliest applications. If you are a minimalist, avoid the smaller less heavy-duty routers as they’ll probably not hold up the daily demands of a shop. If you wish to start a woodworking business and need to upgrade to a tool with more power than the tinier desktop router, it might be good to consider making your own router or purchasing a cheap second-hand one to note how you like it.

With so many CNC router models on sale, determining the most suitable for your needs daunts. However, doing research on the above points will greatly help.

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