Jun. 15, 2022
CNC machining has become an increasingly popular form of manufacturing in recent years, with the key benefits of providing greater efficiency, capacity, and reduced waste on the shop floor. As a result of this growing popularity, we have seen several different types of CNC machines being developed, each with its own unique features and benefits.
Among the most popular are CNC routers and CNC milling machines - also known as CNC mills. Below is a breakdown of the tasks that CNC machines are typically used for and the main differences that exist between CNC routers and CNC milling machines.
Modules and Tools
A CNC machine is a computer-controlled mechanism that automatically moves a tool around a workpiece on a series of axes to perform a cut. All CNC machines use subtractive manufacturing to create the final product, meaning they work by removing material from an existing part rather than adding material to it.
Movement speed, rotation speed, and type of movement are all factors that are programmed to help determine the details of the cut to be made using a CNC machine. While routers and milling machines both offer extremely high levels of accuracy, there are some differences you should be aware of.
1.8kw Milling Router
The CNC router is considered a fairly common tool used in modern machine shops and its main purpose is to cut softer materials such as wood, plastic, acrylics, foam, and certain softer metals. It is usually mounted on a fixed table with a larger working space and its spindle can be moved along three axes (X, Y, and Z).
In contrast to CNC routers, CNC engravers are primarily designed to run at high speeds, using rotational speed as the driving force for cutting. Although routers typically have three axes, variants with 4-6 axes are also available, making them ideal for more complex projects.
For cutting softer materials such as wood, plastic, and foam
Mounted on a fixed table with more working space
Spindle with movement along X, Y, and Z axes
Cuts using rotary speed
Makes 3D cutting easier
TK4S Large Format Cutting System
In most cases, CNC routers can perform essentially the same functions as CNC routers, but with some key differences. While a router is primarily used for softer materials, a milling cutter is typically used to cut metal and harder materials. It uses a rotary cutting tool similar to a router, but the router runs at a much slower speed.
Instead of using a fixed table, many CNC milling machines move in an XY configuration, with the spindle moving on a linear axis above the workpiece. This provides greater clearance along the Z-axis and allows the milling cutter to perform thicker cuts, as the cutter uses torque rather than speed to make the cut.
For cutting metal and harder materials
Runs slower than CNC routers
Moves in an XY configuration
The spindle moves along a linear axis above the workpiece to increase clearance along the Z-axis
Ability to make thicker cuts
Uses higher torque for cutting
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