What Is a CNC Router

Table of Contents

What Is a CNC Router

What Is a CNC Router Machine for your cnc router project

What Is a CNC Router

CNC Router is a computer numerical control (CNC) which is one kind of CNC Machinery but different CNC Milling and CNC Turning, CNC router machine with small  tools is good at machining precision and small/tiny parts, with the ability of milling, grinding, drilling and high-speed tapping. It is widely used in 3C industry, mold industry, medical industry and other fields.

 A computer-controlled cutting machine which typically mounts a hand-held router as a spindle which is used for cutting various materials, such as wood, composites, aluminium, steel, plastics, glass, and foams. CNC routers can perform the tasks of many carpentry shop machines such as the panel saw, the spindle moulder, and the boring machine. They can also cut joinery such as mortises and tenons.

A CNC router is very similar in concept to a CNC milling machine. Instead of routing by hand, tool paths are controlled via computer numerical control. The CNC router is one of many kinds of tools that have CNC variants.

Table of Contents

What is a CNC router used for?

Due to the development and demand of the electronic consumer market in the future, more digital electronic displays use glass as display screens or touch screens, and the market for CNC router machines is also growing. 

The specific scope of application of CNC router machine use for is:


1. Glass panel forming, edging, perforating, chamfering, cutting and other processing; 

2. Mobile phone capacitive screen contact control board, resistive screen base molding processing; 

3. PC, acrylic, Cutting and chamfering of PET window lens. 

4. The processing of window panels and frames of digital products such as notebooks, televisions, mobile phones, digital photo frames, multimedia players, and home appliances.

What is a CNC router vs mill?

Both CNC router and CNC milling use the principle of milling.

The main difference between CNC Router vs Milling is the diameter of the tool used. Among them, the commonly used tool diameter for CNC milling is 6-40 mm, while the tool diameter for CNC router is 0.2-3 mm.

Does CNC milling can only be used for rough machining, and CNC router can only be used for finishing?

Let us first understand the concept of the machining process. The rough machining process requires a large amount of machining, but the finishing machining amount is small, so some people think rough machining as “heavy cutting” and finishing as “light cutting”. In fact, rough machining, semi-finishing, and finishing are process concepts, which represent different processing stages. Therefore, the accurate answer to this question is that CNC milling can be used for heavy cutting or light cutting, while CNC router can only be used for light cutting.

Can Titanium Be CNC Machined?

How much does a CNC router cost?

We will take a look into the cost details of CNC router (including design, machinery, labor and raw material costs), cnc router machining is more accessible than you may think.

01: cnc router machine costs:


CNC machinery come in different variations. Depending on their machine architecture and capabilities the typical machine per hour differs.

Aluminum CNC machinery
  • The typical cost rate of a 3-axis machining cnc milling machinery (including of the operator salary 10$) is 50$ per hour.
  • The 3-axis CNC Turning is usually priced lower at 40$ per hour because its machinery cost is lower and operation is simpler.
  • The average cost of 4 or 5 axis CNC machining from 75$ to 120$ or higher due to its high machinery cost and complex operation.

In general, we should choose a simpler CNC Machinery to manufacture our custom aluminum parts based on the material and part design, also quality requirements, with a rich experience engineer that can help you to define which CNC machining method we should choose to have best cost and good quality, also fast delivery.

02: Raw Material Costs

Most of materials can be machined by CNC Machining with different custom designs, including of aluminum, titanium, steel, brass, plastic, or wood etc.

Aluminum Steel Raw Material Costs

The cost of your material is often given per 6″x6″x1″ sheet. The cost of some popular plastics per sheet are:

  • ABS costs $17 per block
  • POM (Delrin) costs $27 per block
  • Nylon 6 costs $30 per block

The cost of some popular metals for CNC machined parts are:

  • Aluminum 6061 costs $25 per block
  • Aluminum 7075 costs $80 per block
  • Stainless steel 304 costs $90 per block

CNC machining, being a subtractive manufacturing technology, has considerable waste as material is removed from the original block. 

It’s important to know that you will be charged for the use of a whole aluminum steel block. Where possible try to make as many parts of your design fit into one block as you can. This will mean you have fewer blocks to use overall and save you some cost in the order.

Is a CNC router worth it?

CNC router has the characteristics of high processing accuracy, stable machine, fine finished product, fast processing speed and high production efficiency. It is for sure that CNC Router is worth to machine small/light finishing parts to have cheap cost, high precision, and fast delivery. 

How does a CNC router work

CNC router processing is also milling processing firstly but with small tools to machine light finishing for your custom part, to understand the work principle is very important to know how does a CNC Router work. So the control system cnc router must have the ability to control milling processing. For the processing of small tools, the feed forward function must be provided at the same time to reduce the speed of the path in advance to reduce the breaking frequency of the small tools. At the same time, it is necessary to increase the cutting speed in a relatively smooth path section to improve the efficiency of engraving processing.

How fast does a CNC router work?

Speed adjustment table for different computer router machines:
Specific analysis of specific circumstances, for reference only for general materials to know how fast does cnc router work:
1. Cutting
1. Plexiglass (acrylic)
Thickness      Speed              Rotational Speed
20mm               5-6                   20000-22000
15mm               6-7                   19000-21000
10mm               8-9                   18000-20000
5mm               10-12                 18000-20000
3mm               10-14                16000-18000
2. PVC (Note: cutting counterclockwise)
Thickness       Speed                Rotational Speed
20mm               8-12                    18000-20000
15mm              10-14                   16000-18000
10mm              15-20                   16000-18000
3. Fulong board (note: cutting counterclockwise)
Thickness       Speed                 Rotational Speed
20mm              15-20                    18000-19000
15mm              20-25                    16000-18000
10mm              20-25                    16000-18000
4. MDF (Note: single-edged knife cutting)
Thickness        Speed                 Rotational Speed
18mm                 6-8                      18000-20000
15mm                8-10                     18000-20000
10mm               10-14                    17000-19000
(Note: All the above are 3.175 milling cutter parameters)
5. Two-color board
Thickness         Speed                 Rotational Speed
1.5mm               12-20                     12000-14000  

What software do I need for CNC router?

When you want to design a custom part which made with CNC Router, here you can know what software do you need for CNC Router, you need to use AutoCAD software to create the part design drawing, then with MasterCAM (computer-aided machining) software  to generate tool paths and convert it into gcode. MasterCAM software also has feature called post processor that edits the gcode to conform to the type required by the CNC Router controller. Finally, gcode sender software sends the gcode as a text file to the CNC Router controller to start the machining process.

Which materials are suitable for cnc router machining

The Non-metallic materials suitable for CNC Router Machining including of organic glass, resin, wood, etc., and non-metallic materials that are not suitable for CNC Router Machining including of natural marble and glass.

Metal materials suitable for CNC Router Machining including of copper, aluminum, and mild steel with a hardness less than HRC40. Metal materials not suitable for cnc router machining including of quenched steel.

cnc wood router for woodworking:


So the answer is “Yes” for Can a CNC router cut through wood, because wood material’s hardness is than HRC40 which is suitable for CNC Router Machining.

Picture of Author: Mose Li

Author: Mose Li

Director of Project Engineering at 3Q Machining

error: Content is protected !!

One-stop sourcing your rapid prototype and custom part

Precision Machining cnc machining
Request A Quote: Please attach your 3D drawing (preferably STEP and IGS format). Got multiple files? Put all your files in a folder and compress the folder into ZIP or RAR file. (File Type: doc|excel|png|jpeg|csv|pdf)
Alternatively, send through your RFQ by email. Project@3Qmachining.com