CNC or computer numerical control router machines are valuable tools for automating production processes that involve cutting, grinding, milling, drilling, engraving, and other operations that can be done with a motor-driven tool. These operations are usually subtractive, which means they cut through and reduce the mass of the material that’s being worked on.
A CNC router uses different types of “bits” to execute all of the above. Switching the bit of a CNC router will give it additional functionality and enable users to perform a whole new set of tasks. Adding new bits and features to your CNC router, therefore, can open your workshop to a world of possibilities in manufacturing.
CNC routers have numerous applications and are used in a wide range of industries. This article explores ten of the most popular CNC applications you can explore to expand your business.
Sign-making is one of the most popular CNC applications today. With a handheld CNC router, you can customize signages and use different materials to pad your product offerings.
A CNC router machine uses different types of bits that can cleanly cut through various materials. It effortlessly cuts plastic, acrylic, wood, aluminum, copper, and brass – materials that are commonly used for making signs. Since a CNC router is used for cutting the primary materials and engraving or etching the words and design, it is easily one of the most vital tools in a sign-making business.
Engraving and 3-D Carving
A CNC router uses a wide range of bits in different sizes and shapes, and each one creates a unique cutting style and texture. Seasoned CNC sculptors can utilize these variations to carve out impressive 3D figures from wood and other materials. CNC routers, therefore, are valuable to sculptors and businesses that build custom figures and sculptures for marketing purposes.
CNC machining can reduce hand-carving and etching time by 25 to 50%, benefiting businesses that accept commissions for giant sculptures that generally take two weeks or more to complete. Manual carving is labor-intensive, and if you need to finish a project quickly, you’ll have to hire more sculptors to get the job done. While most people put more value in hand-carved sculptures, it’s just not cost-effective for a business to keep hiring more hands for each project. Further, it is challenging to make accurate cost estimates because human factors can be unpredictable (i.e., your part-timers might catch a contagious flu, or the people you hire the second time around might not be as skilled as the first batch).
CNC routers are more reliable and offer more certainty than if you sculpt entirely by hand. These machines will also enable you to fast-track projects and accept more commissions and orders, increasing your revenue.
Many boat builders construct recreational boats using traditional carpentry techniques, including cutting wood. CNC routers can simplify and automate this part of the boat building, making the process faster and more efficient. Since CNC machining is more precise and routers make clean cuts, as long as the bits are in excellent condition, there will be less waste in wood and other materials.
Boat builders can also use 3-axis and 5-axis CNC routers to carve or cut more complex shapes into wood and other materials like EPS (expanded polystyrene, which is a lightweight and rigid foam), epoxy, polyester, and other composites used in boat making.
Precision is paramount in making musical instruments. The slightest deviation from the specifications can negatively affect an instrument’s sound. For this reason, high-precision cutting tools like CNC routers are essential in manufacturing musical instruments.
Whether you are mass-producing or hand-making musical instruments, a CNC machine will be a precious tool in your workshop. They are a staple in modern factories for guitars, violins, cellos, and string instruments. Since CNC routers can also cut through metal, it can be used for making components for drums, trumpets, and other percussion and air instruments.
Arts and Crafts
A handheld CNC router is a staple in the workshops of avid crafters. They use it to make things like jewelry, decorations, plaques, party favors, toys, etc. While some people do arts and crafts purely as a hobby, others turn it into a lucrative business.
CNC routers are very efficient and can reduce production lead times by days or weeks. A hobbyist who spends an entire day cutting fabrics, plastic sheets, wood, or glass can prepare these materials in hours or minutes. They can finish their projects sooner, and their finished products will turn out more polished because the components are perfectly cut.
Like in boat making, CNC routers are valuable in furniture making because they simplify wood cutting. Furniture makers can create a digital blueprint of the piece they want to build and program every component’s specifications into the software. After that, it’s just a matter of selecting the right wood and cutting the parts to size using a CNC router.
Assembling beds, chairs, stair rails, tables, and other furniture is faster and easier when all the parts are pre-cut with a CNC machine. The precision of the dimensions, shapes, and angles is guaranteed, so all that is left to do is nail and glue the parts together.
Of course, the process can be more complex depending on each furniture’s design, but the point remains. Integrating CNC routers into furniture production increases the speed and precision of cutting wood and other materials, reduces production waste, and reduces lead times.
There is always a demand for custom cabinetry and shelving systems in the middle- and upper-class residential markets. It can be a lucrative business for cabinet makers, so if you are one, you should consider investing in a CNC router. It is helpful in customizing shelving systems and making cabinets that fit perfectly into spaces with irregular shapes or oddly shaped corners. The precision of cutting marine plywood with a CNC router is unmatched, making it a valuable tool in this industry.
Even though the current architectural trend leans towards minimalism, many can still appreciate intricately made banisters, wainscotting, crown molding, baseboards, and decorative wall panels. They are reminiscent of the earlier decades when homeowners commissioned artists to create one-of-a-kind woodwork or paneling for their homes. These works were considered art pieces, not just practical additions with legitimate functions in a house.
Today, builders can achieve a similar look and vibe using CNC router machines. Delicate designs can add character to houses and buildings and satisfy customers who find brutalist and minimalist designs too cold or plain for their liking.
CNC routers are valuable to businesses that fabricate aluminum into consumer goods like pails, bowls, containers, toys, and components for electronics. Aluminum is pliable, and the sheets are easily cut and manipulated into different shapes. Still, cutting the material manually takes time, and the precision always depends on the cutter’s skill level.
Investing in a CNC router is more cost-effective than continuing to cut aluminum using manual methods. And if your chosen CNC router machine uses lasers, you can do even more in your workshop. You can accommodate intricate customization requests and offer engraving as an additional service. CNC laser engraving is very efficient because you can program the words or images to engrave on aluminum and replicate them if necessary. Should business pick up, it will be easier for you to enter into mass production.
Acrylic, as a material, has a thousand applications. It is used in making screen protectors, camera lenses, nail art, security barriers, medical devices, furniture, jewelry and accessories, decorative items, picture frames, storage items, and more.
Precision is vital in cutting acrylic into shape, so CNC routers fit perfectly into its production. CNC cuts cleanly through acrylic substrates, ensuring accuracy in the dimensions of each acrylic component. And because these machines rapidly automate the process, manufacturers can mass-produce these products and maintain the quality customers expect.
There are more CNC router uses besides the ten discussed above. You might have thought of other ideas on how to integrate CNC machining into your business. If you still haven’t invested in this machine, now would be an excellent time to explore its possible uses in your industry.
Discover the Best Use of CNC Routers
Regardless of your industry and whether you own a small business or run a big mass-production company, CNC machines can be a game-changer in your operations.
Find out how your business can benefit from CNC routers by consulting CAMaster. We are a trusted manufacturer of CNC routers and automated manufacturing solutions. From its head office in Georgia, CAMaster provides machinery, hardware, and software to clients that utilize CNC machining to boost productivity, efficiency, product quality, and production capacity. Our Stinger and Cobra CNC routers are some of the best in the market today. What’s more, we provide lifetime technical support and top-notch customer service.