CNC Routers vs CNC Milling

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CNC Routers vs CNC Milling

CNC Routers vs CNC Milling

CNC machines with a 3 Axis set-up are usually routers or mills. While both machines are similar in principle they are used for two very different purposes, resulting in them being constructed fairly differently. This article will give you a brief analysis on the difference between the two machines.

CNC Router vs CNC Milling

CNC Router and CNC milling

CNC routers are commonly used to cut soft materials like wood, foam and plastic. With the right know-how a CNC router can even cut aluminum and other soft metals. Because the materials being cut are soft CNC routers are built fairly lightly. A small CNC router can weigh several hundred pounds but that is very light compared to larger routers and mills. The soft materials cut on a CNC router tend to come in large sheets so CNC routers have big cutting surfaces but a small z-axis. Cut and jog rates tend to be high due to the large area that needs to be covered during the cutting process. For example, some routers are capable of jogging at 12 inches per second. On average a CNC router will cut four to eight times faster than a CNC mill. CNC routers can operate at 25,000 to 30,000 RPMs at high speed while a CNC mill will have a speed 3000 to 5000 RPMs when cutting quickly. The trade-off of a router is accuracy. Due to the high speeds a router cuts at there is not as much accuracy as you would get when using a mill. Usually soft materials do not need to be precisely cut to a 1/1000 of an inch so it should not raise any issues in most cases. CNC routers can be fit with a router or a spindle as a cutting tool.

CNC Routers vs CNC Milling

CNC router

CNC mills are beasts compared to routers. They are built to cut hard materials and that can mean anything from aluminum to titanium. CNC mills are often used to create (or mill) machine parts so they are incredibly accurate when cutting. The average mill is accurate down to 1/1000 of an inch, if not even more accurate than that. A CNC mill can cut with such accuracy because they are made with extremely hard materials, such as die cast iron, that will not flex under any load you put on them. This makes CNC mills many times heavier than CNC routers. A large CNC router can weigh upwards of 15,000 lbs. while a CNC mill that is just as big can weigh 90,000 lbs. Hard materials need to be cut at much slower speeds than soft materials so CNC mills do have a much slower jog speed than CNC routers. CNC mills use spindles like CNC routers can but they do not use routers since spindles work better than routers at lower RPMs. CNC mills can be used for routing but tend not to work as well as a dedicated CNC router. They also have a much larger z-axis than CNC routers because they are often used in conjunction with a rotary indexer. CNC mills are significantly more expensive than CNC routers of equal size and usually have a smaller cutting area than their similar sized CNC router counterparts as well. Any CNC mill with an area larger than 2×2 feet can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. CNC mills can be built to handle different types of materials (horizontal, vertical, multi-axis, etc.) as opposed to a CNC router designed to handle sheet materials. CNC mill manufacturers often sell their machines with different spindle options depending on what kind of material you intend to mill.

Summary
Article Name
CNC Router vs CNC Milling
Description
CNC routers are commonly used to cut soft materials like wood, foam and plastic. With the right know-how a CNC router can even cut aluminum and other soft
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