What is the difference between milling machines and CNC routers? While this question might not be on the plane of importance as the meaning of life, knowing the difference between milling machines and CNC routers can be very important.
What They Cut
Generally, CNC routers are designed to cut softer materials. However, softer materials can fall under a wide range – wood, plastic and even softer metal like aluminum.
Meanwhile, milling machines are made to cut metal, plain and simple. Milling machines can cut basically any type of metal, even metal as hard as titanium. Milling machines can also cut thicker material and that with more varied shapes than CNC routers because they can operate on a horizontal or vertical configuration.
CNC Router and Milling Machine Configurations
A CNC router is normally mounted on set table. These routers feature a spindle with an X-Y-Z configuration. CNC routers usually have shallow clearance because they are designed to cut flatter materials.
Milling machines normally feature an X-Y configuration, with a spindle set above the device. The spindle moves on a linear axis, with much more clearance than with a CNC router.
CNC Router and Milling Machine Cutting
When cutting softer materials in larger sheets, CNC routers are not normally as precise as milling machines. Milling machines can cut as close as 1,000th of an inch when cutting metal.
CNC routers cut at a higher speed than milling machines. Cutting speeds for milling machines are much slower than CNC routers. Milling machines often produce fewer than 1,000 RPMs, while those of CNC routers are more often up to 18,000 RPMs and higher.
Discover what you want to create, and you will have a better understanding of what type of machine you need. CNC routers and milling machines serve very distinct purposes, and what they create can be very different.