CNC Routing is a manufacturing process by which a router is controlled by a computer to cut a sheet of material. CNC stands for computer numerical control. Computer conrolled movement of the machine is based on the Cartesian coordinate system (X, Y, Z) allowing for three dimensional shaping.
A CNC router is similar to a plotter which moves a pen across a surface along the X and Y axes to create a drawing. But a CNC router moves a cutting tool across a large table along the X and Y axes as well as up and down along the Z axis. This allows the router to create pocket cuts into the material.
The cutting tool looks like a drill bit, but unlike a drill bit a router is designed to cut from the sides as well as the tip. The router, also referred to as a spindle, is the motor that spins the cutter.
Here are two videos from ShopBot showing a router in action:
What should I know about CNC routing with my Personal Factory?
We currently offer 2D making with CNC routing, because there is limited Z axis mobility. This means that you have control over the X and Y dimensions, but cutting depths are limited to three levels. You can cut down into your material at 25%, 50%, or 75% of the total depth of your material.
The result is similar to results with laser cutting, but CNC routing allows you to create much larger objects than are possible with laser cutting.
How long will my CNC order take to arrive?
CNC orders will generally be made within one to two weeks.
Shipping time depends on your location, but will usually take between one day and one week.
How much will CNC routing my design cost?
The cost is determined by the complexity of your design and the material type and thickness you’ve chosen.
The CNC cuts materials at a range of speeds and as a rule it takes longer to cut thicker materials. As a general rule of thumb, the more lines your design has, the more it will cost to make.
When you add the materials to your designs in your Personal Factory, you’ll get an instant price for how much it will cost to make it. If you need to, you can then go back and refine your designs and upload them again. Check out our 2D design tips for advice on how to make your design more economical.
What materials can I use with CNC routing?
You can choose from our initial selection of plywood and MDF sheeting listed in our materials catalog. We plan to expand the materials over the coming months.
What size restrictions are there?
You need to work within our templates. We have 2 sizes available.
P4 23" x 47" (584mm x 1193mm) P5 47" x 47" (1193mm x 1193mm)*
* note: due to shipping requirements the largest piece of work that can be produced is 23” x 47” or 34” x 34”
There is a minimum part size of around 5" x 5" / 127mm x 127mm. Parts smaller than this are too difficult to process safely.
Are there any shipping restrictions?
CNC routered parts are typically large and heavy and because of this we’ve had to implement new shipping procedures.
We will not be shipping the waste material for CNC designs. Everything that is still attached to the outer border of material will be discarded from your order. Everything that is left behind on the bed of the router will be boxed and shipped to you.
The largest boxes we have for shipping your designs are 24”x48” and 36”x36”. If your designs do not fit in one of these 2 boxes we’ll not be able to ship it.
Why can't I add CNC materials to my design?
At present, CNC materials are only available through the Ponoko USA digital making hub. If you're not based in the USA, you can still place a CNC order, but you must change your making location to Ponoko USA and have your order shipped internationally.
Can I ask for the CNC router to be set-up differently, so I can achieve a certain effect?