CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines are automated machine tools that use computer programs to control the movement and operation of the machine. CNC machines can be used for a variety of applications, such as cutting, drilling, grinding, routing, and milling. These machines are typically used for manufacturing and producing parts for various industries, such as automotive, aerospace, defense, and medical. They can also be used to create custom parts, such as prototypes and one-off pieces. CNC machines are highly accurate and precise, allowing for greater efficiency and higher-quality parts. The milling machine is the most commonly used type of CNC machine.

CNC Router and CNC Mill
CNC Router and CNC Mill

How a CNC milling machine work?

CNC milling machines typically consist of the following components: a base, a table, columns, a spindle, a headstock, a control panel, and an operator interface. The base is a strong, heavy structure that provides a rigid and stable platform for the other components. The table is where the workpiece is placed and secured during machining. The columns are attached to the base and support the spindle, headstock, and control panel. The spindle is the rotating part of the machine that holds and rotates the cutting tool. The headstock is a motorized assembly that is used to move the spindle and cutting tool in the X, Y, and Z directions. The control panel houses the electrical and electronic components that operate the machine, including the CNC computer. The operator interface is a computer terminal that is used to enter commands and monitor the progress of the machining operation.

Structure of CNC Milling Machine
Structure of CNC Milling Machine

What is a CNC router?

It is similar to a CNC milling machine but uses a smaller tool, a higher-speed spindle motor. From a structure standpoint, it usually uses a gantry-type structure with a moving beam. The advantage of a CNC router is engraving, small part cut, and low-cost operation. If the hardness of the processed material is relatively high, it will appear powerless.

What is the major difference between a CNC milling machine and a CNC router?

CNC router: CNC router’s spindle speed is high. 24000 r/min is pretty normal. The moving speeds of the X, Y, and Z directions are high too due to the relative light structure. Its high spindle speed is suitable for processing small tools, and its torque is relatively small.

At present, most of the products under the banner of CNC routers on the market are mainly for processing handicrafts, and the cost is low. Due to the low precision, they are not suitable for mold development and other industrial high-precision application; but there are exceptions such as routers used in the chip and semiconductor industry.

Modern CNC milling machines are also used as a machining center. It is a highly automated multifunction CNC machine tool with a tool magazine and an automatic tool changer. CNC milling uses slower spindle speed but with a higher power. It X, Y, and Z axis move slower but with higher precision. This kind of machine can realize the centralized processing of various processes such as milling, drilling, boring, reaming, and tapping after the workpiece is clamped once, and the function particularly emphasizes “milling”. The machining center has its shortcomings, especially when processing small parts with small tools, the cost is very high.

Difference in Application:

CNC router is good for completing small milling volumes, finishing machining of small molds, suitable for Processing of copper, graphite, etc.; low-end router machines tend to process wood, acrylic plates, and other low-hardness plates.

CNC milling machines are used to complete the processing equipment of workpieces with large milling volumes, large molds, and materials with relatively high hardness, and are also suitable for roughing molds.

Do you need a CNC router or a CNC milling machine?

This depends on the type of project you are working on. CNC routers are generally used for cutting and engraving on softer materials such as wood, plastic, foam, and aluminum. They can also be used for 3D carving applications. CNC milling machines are typically used for more precise cutting operations, such as drilling and milling harder materials such as steel, titanium, and other metals.

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