From dental offices to woodworking, computer numerically controlled systems, or CNC routers, are taking dozens of industries by storm. If you aren't yet using this technology, it may be time to start. Check out this brief guide to learn more and decide if the advantages are right for you.

What is the History of CNC Routing?

The idea for CNC routing and machining came about in 1949 when John Parsons decided that a machine that drilled and cut based on commands was necessary. This decision was because the military needed precision-cut "skins" for its planes.

By 1951, the first CNC routing machine was out of the idea books and into the real world. Based on a 28-inch Cincinnati Hydro-Tel milling machine, the CNC machine featured hydraulic transmissions that received electrical pulses to make small motions.

By today's standards, it isn't much, but it was a huge deal in the early 1950s. CNC routers evolved over the last few decades and nearly everything you use is a product of CNC technology these days.

Difference Between a CNC Router and a CNC Machine?

Of importance to note is that CNC routers and CNC milling machines are not the same things. Routers cut plastic and soft woods and metals, such as aluminum. Milling Machines are useful only for hard metals, including titanium.

Milling machines can also cut through thicker metal. CNC routers are smaller and mount to a table while milling machines are much larger. Routers cut at a faster speed than milling machines, but milling machines are more precise. For this reason, they are useful for very different job types.

What Are the Advantages of CNC Routing?

CNC routers offer several benefits. Perhaps most importantly, they provide precision and accuracy on a job. When the designs have precise scale measurements, the routers can handle the rest. Routers also allow for automation of jobs, which means they can handle large jobs with a fraction of the time and manpower it would take to perform the same amount of work with handheld machines.

Saving time and manpower also means saving money since companies need to pay fewer people and can hire people who have fewer skills in the industry. Training is virtual, and the machines do not rely on humans, which means there is a lower chance of on-the-job accidents. Finally, CNC routers are adaptive and flexible. All it takes is a few clicks of a button to change parameters of a job and make different cuts.

What Are the Components of a CNC Router?

CNC routers are available in several sizes that range from small enough to use at home to large enough to take on work for large corporations. Regardless of size, CNC routers have several components. These include a y-axis linear drive system, an x-axis linear drive system, a spindle, a y-axis gantry, a base and a cutting bed or table.

The router's computer system and controller are on one side of the machine. The spindle is responsible for doing the cutting and receives its classification based on its horsepower. It rotates the cutting tool at various speeds and has a range of up to 30,000 revolutions per minute. The cutting bed is where most of the work occurs, though. Although there are several types, each one has the same function. It supports and secures the material the router is cutting.

Some of the most common designs are the T-slot, which works for nearly any type of router, and the vacuum table, which is usually on high-end models. Finally, CNC routers have a linear drive system. This is where the axles come into play. Each one has its own system, including a motor that gets its power from the controller.

As you can see, CNC routers aren't likely to stop being a popular tool anytime soon. With so many benefits and at relatively inexpensive prices, it's easy to see why. What about you? Have you used a CNC router before? Do you think you're going to start?