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What Is a CNC Wood Router?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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A CNC wood router is a machine that relies on computer numerical control technology to cut and shape wood. These devices share many characteristics with a traditional metal milling machine, but are designed for use with wood or plastic rather than metal. Unlike other woodworking tools, the CNC wood router is completely controlled by a computer software program, and requires no hand cutting or other manual intervention. Some human labor is required to program and feed materials into the machine, and also to assemble completed parts.

This equipment can be compared to a standard ink jet printer, though the CNC wood router uses built-in tools to cut or shape sheets of wood. The router produces three-dimensional units, which may be carved, drilled, or sanded depending on the project specifications. These machines can be used to cut multiple units with the same shape and design out of a single sheet of wood, or may be used to cut different types of pieces.

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To use a CNC wood router, workers must have some experience with the software used to run these machines. They often utilize computer assisted drafting, or CAD programs, which require above-average computer and design skills. Everything from the size and shape to the cut-outs and finish of each wood component can be programmed in using this software. Many companies rely on special CAD programs designed to work with certain types of CNC routers to help maximize efficiency and speed up production.

These units range from small tabletop machines to very large floor models. Smaller units can be used only for relatively small components, and may be utilized by home hobbyists. Floor models are often found in manufacturing and industrial facilities, and are capable of producing larger components. Different CNC wood router units can also be distinguished by the number of spindles they include. Many include three spindles, which allows the unit to make cuts along the X,Y, and Z axes, though some feature as many as five spindles.

The CNC wood router allows workers to produce wood components very efficiently, at rates much greater than those offered by traditional wood routers. This helps manufacturers maximize production rates, which can lead to greater sales and higher profits. These machines also make woodworking a virtually error-free process due to the precise nature of the CNC programming. They also allow for very complex work or wood design to be completed with ease, with greater flexibility than other woodworking techniques.

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