How Does a CNC Router Work?

A CNC router uses computer software and a Computer Numerically Controlled system to drive a mechanical system. Most CNC machines can move and cut in three directions. These are referred to as the X, Y and Z axes.

  • X axis: the longest, running from front to back.

  • Y axis: running form left to right.

  • Z axis: running up and down.

CNC routers are very efficient, working simultaneously in all three directions, enabling them to produce complex shapes.

The Main Components of a CNC Router

The CNC Controller and Computer System. These work together to direct the motors and drive system in their movement. The computer is given a design which is initially in digital format. The computer software converts the design to a tool path code (usually G-code). These commands are then converted to a digital signal, relayed to the CNC controller which converts them to various currents and voltages to control the drive system.

  • The Spindle: This part of the machine is responsible for the cutting. The spindle rotates the cutting bit at various speeds, depending on what you are cutting. It will cut softer materials at a range of 8,000 to 24,000 revolutions per minute and metals at a range of 2000 and 10,000 RPMs.

  • The Cutting Bed: Whatever type of cutting bed you have, its function is the same. It is designed to secure and support the material you are cutting. The most common cutting bed is a vacuum bed which uses a vacuum motor to hold down your material as you cut. Another common cutting bed is one that has a T-slot design, which uses clamps and bolts to secure the workpiece to the bed. 

  • The Drive System: Each of the axes uses a linear drive system to move the spindles within that axis range. The CNC linear drive system includes the following components:

    • a motor

    • a linear bearing and guide system

    • a ball screw or rack and pinion drive assembly

The motor is the integral link between the system’s electronics and mechanics. The CNC controller provides the rotational power when needed. CNC routers may have stepper or servo motors. Steppers are the less expensive motor and are reliable. Servo motors have the advantage of having a closed loop system. This means, after receiving commands from the CNC controller, they will send back a signal indicating that their task is completed.

At SUDA, we aim to help you increase your company’s productivity and efficiency using high-quality machinery, hardware and software. Our expert team is committed to sharing our experience with you to help you take your enterprise to the next level. Contact us today to discuss our range of  CNC routers

What’s the difference between a stepper and servo?

The basic difference between a stepper and a servo-based system is the type of motor and how it is controlled. In a servo-based system, there is constant signal feedback from the encoder (or motor) to the servo drive. This feedback tells the servo drive exactly where it is within its move. Thus, the servo drive can adjust its power output, as needed, to complete the move. The servo is much more powerful, has quicker acceleration time and quicker positioning speed.

A stepper based system runs on an open loop meaning it sends out the number of pulses to the proper axis to get to the programmed location. Because of their simplicity, steppers are less expensive than servos and are the most affordable solution to producing CNC motion. They have the limitation that, if overpowered, they can lose synchronization with the computer controlling their motion. But when configured correctly, they will produce great cuts on a consistent basis. All CAMaster machines that come with steppers are programmed to specific specs to ensure that they never lose synchronization at any point so that you can load your CNC router day after day without a second thought.

Our MC and A lines come standard with servos and our SK/CK/E  line comes standard with steppers.

Do you offer training?

SUDA personnel can assist you with training in the use of software and/or machine operation, depending on your needs. Training can be done either at the customer’s location, at SUDA's facility or Online.

Do I need a vacuum hold down system?

A vacuum system is a great addition to any machine. If used correctly a vacuum system can save you time and produce a clean cut edge even on hard to cut material like melamine and acrylic. If you are in a production setting, a vacuum system is a must. It will pay for questions asked.

CAMaster offers many different vacuum systems to fill a wide range of customer needs. From single phase light duty systems to industrial heavy duty systems with either a regenerative blower or vane pump.

What size machine is best for me?

This is one of the biggest questions you will ask yourself while looking at purchasing a CNC router. You want all you can get without breaking the bank and without having to remove a wall. What kind of work do you want to do now? How about 3 years from now? If you are in a small shop and you only want to make small parts, a small machine will likely do you just fine. But if you want to cut full sheets, you will do well to look at a 4′ x 8′ or larger machine. You will be hurting yourself if you plan on getting by with a smaller machine and just pull your material through. It may be fine in the beginning but when you get a few jobs, pulling sheets of material through a CNC will be extremely time consuming and as a result expensive.

Buy your second machine first. This is a statement you may have heard or read when it comes to CNC machines. This is not a marketing ploy. It is a very important piece of advice to those new to CNC that may not see the big picture yet. Buying a basic CNC is great for hobby use. But when it comes to a shop that wants to use a machine in production, even light production, buying a machine that you cannot grow with will be a huge set back.

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