CNC or Computer Numerical Controlled router machines are used to mainly cut wood into various intricate and complex shapes and designs. You can also cut various other things such as foams, aluminum, stones, and plastics, etc. with it.
One of the benefits of CNC routers is that unlike handheld routers, they are easier to master and less time consuming. Despite being easy to operate, one has to learn how to operate CNC router machines.
Let’s take a look at the steps of operating this device and the safety measures to be implemented for proper usage.
Parts of a CNC Router
The CNC router machines as Blue Elephant CNC consist of four different parts. These are :
- Cutting Bed: The cutting is the part that supports the material at the time of cutting.
- Spindle: The spindle is the part that cuts the wood.
- Drive System: The drive system directs the spindle in three different directions such as x, y, and z axes allowing it to cut in three dimensions.
- Controller: The controller directs the drive system and the spindle to the direction the cut needs to happen.
How To Operate CNC Router Machines: Step by Step Process
The following are the basic steps that a worker needs to learn in order to operate a CNC router machine :
1. Starting the machine
A number of components have to be plugged in before the machine can get started. First, turn on the router controller box. Then, start the remote controller by pressing the green button with the label ’Start’. After that, the dust collector should be started after the dust bags are checked. Finally, push the white button and start the vacuum table.
2. Choosing End Mill
- Intro: While you are conducting a project on a CNC router, you can choose from a varying number of blades. Usually, we can only use the bits which are called End Mills who come in various shapes and sizes. Before undertaking any task requiring the CNC routers, you have to understand three concepts, which are : flute numbers, shapes of the end mill, and how to size.
- Flutes: Flutes are the edges of the end mills. There are two kinds of end mills based on flute. They are- 1) Four-flute end mills and 2) Two-flute end mills. The difference between them is that the four-flute end mills are primarily used to cut tougher materials such as aluminum, teak, mahogany etc. while the two-flute ones can be used to cut softer materials such as plywood, cedar, etc.
- Shapes: There are different shapes of End Mills as well. Flat End Mills are used to cut clean profile cuts, drill holes, or to route pockets. The Ballnose End Mills are mainly used for cutting 3D shapes only. They can’t be used for profile cutting like the flat ones. The V-bit End Mills are used for carving. Words are written on materials using this. There are some other End mills as well that do not fall under any classification, which can be used for various other purposes.
- Changing Blades or End Mills: When changing blades, remove the collet and the CNC bit with the help of wrenches and then put the new bits or blades in. After that tighten the nuts with wrenches.
- Setting up Workplace: Check all four vacuum zones while setting up the workspace on your table as the vacuum needs to be strong enough to hold the workplace down. Less pressure will be applied to the workplace if there is less vacuum.
- Setting up X, Y, and Z axes: Set both the x and y axes to zero and place the tip of the end mills over the surface of the material. Press [ XY =0] and [OK] after being satisfied.
You can set the Z-axis in two ways, either by using an A4 paper or a toolsensor.
- Loading the files: After doing all of the above, you can load the files into the CNC routers by a flashdrive.
- Always use protective goggles and earpieces.
- The table should be clean of tools and other things
- Always keep an eye on the router when it’s running.
- Don’t lean on a running CNC machine.
- Don’t adjust the machine while it’s running.
- Use the vacuum or the dust collector during the time the machine is running.
Now that you have learned how to operate a CNC router machine, it will prove to be very easy for you to operate it, no matter what your skill level is. Just make sure that you are following all the safety protocols, and you will be able to cut the wood according to your desire.