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What are CNC Routers used for?

Author: Jack; Last Modify: Jun 22, 2020

To understand what are CNC Routers used for? we need to first understand what it the CNC router. CNC stands for “Computer Numerical Control” and as the name suggests, computerized or automated controls are used for the machining or subtraction of the layers of product which is often called work piece. CNC machining is done for various products which include wood, plastics Acrylic, stone and some metal materials like steels. A wide variety of customized parts can be constructed by using CNC machining.

CNC routers are similar to the CNC milling machines and other CNC machines of this category but they provide better efficiency and they also reduce the waste produced.


Like every CNC machine, CNC routers started with big sizes. The older models were used only for industrial purposes and they were large because of the lack of need for compactness in the industries.

However, as the progress continued and their application started coming up at smaller scales, the development of smaller sizes started and now there are desktop CNC routers that can sit at the desktop. This reduction in size does affect the power compared to the large industrial counterparts, but they are fast and efficient. We can simply connect them to the computer and operate on it.


The working of the CNC router is explained in the following steps

CAD Design

Since the process is automated and computer-controlled, the first thing that is needed to operate the CNC router is data in the form which computer can understand and for CNC machines, that translates to the CAD models that the computer uses to design the product.

The CAD model is made using various languages some of which are built-in, however, external software can also be used to design a CAD model and then it can be incorporated into the CNC router systems.

CNC Set-up

After the model is designed, it cannot be used directly. It has to be converted into the CNC format which is then used to generate the programming codes that control the CNC router. These programming codes contain the various instructions on the movement of the tool head and they are essential as the work is done based on the given instructions.

The CNC routers use various programming languages for this purpose. Some of the programming languages are G-code and M-code. Both these programming languages are used in conjunction. G-code or geometric code is used to control the basic movement of the tool heads. The time, direction and the movement method is controlled by the G-code.

M-code, also known as Miscellaneous function code controls the miscellaneous functions at the start and the end of the process. These processes include opening and closing of the machine lid and automated removal of the product can also be done.

Execution of the Program

After setting up the tool heads and the conversion of the design file, the last step is to execute the program after the verification of the settings.

Using wood CNC routers

In the start of the woodworking careers, it doesn’t seem like a CNC router would be of much help compared to the traditional methods. The need and requirement of a CNC router arise when the need to make intricate or complex shape arises. The increase in demand and mass productions are other reasons for the need of a CNC router.

Below mentioned are some reasons as to why wood CNC routers can be of help.

Work Waste

A very important economical, ecological and efficient reason to change to a wood CNC router is the reduction in the production of the waste. Standard routers that are used are not as efficient in the operations compared to CNC routers and the precision of the CNC routers is much higher than the standard routers. The negation of the chance of human error during operation by the computerization of the operation saves a lot of time and valuable resources.


Another important reason to shift to CNC routers is the perfect repeatability it offers. This helps especially in the mass production of a specific order. By designing a 3-D model and production of multiple components based on that single model, we negate the variations that could occur in the mass-produced products because the operations controlled by the computer won’t change as much compared to the mass production of the same products using a standard router.


Another major point to shift to the wood CNC routers is the ease of operation. To operate a wood CNC router, the computerized operations negate the need for expertise in operations. As the technological advancements show, the need to work tirelessly is disappearing. The operations based on CNC routers are solely based on computer processes and hence the only expertise required in operating a CNC router is computer knowledge. Based on computer training, workers can work on a variety of products based on their knowledge and creativity.


Another very important aspect of shifting to the CNC routers is the safety processes it provides. By the implementation of the automated operations and closed operational area, the safety of the workers is prioritized and they do not have to be near or in the dangerous vicinity of the tool heads and dangerous components of the operations being performed.

Production capacity and Resources

The increased efficiency and the speed of operations is a very important reason to shift to wood CNC routers. Compared to traditional methods and routers, using CNC routers can increase the production capacity and speed exponentially. If the similar increase in production capacity and speed is done on the traditional routers, there would be a huge compromise on the quality and repetitiveness. By the increase in the production speed and capacity, the resource usage will also decrease. Due to very efficient operations, the resource consumption would be reduced greatly compared to the traditional router without any compromise on the quality.

These were some of the reasons as to why the wood CNC routers should be used.

What can CNC Router Machine do

When it comes to the abilities of a CNC router machine, it does not mean that we are talking about the working of the CNC wood router and about the engraving methods and procedures that are adopted by the CNC router machine. Here it means that what type of materials can be engraved by using a CNC router machine. When we talk about the materials, it has a wide range of materials incorporated in itself that can lie in this domain.

Since CNC router machines are capable of engraving with the help of very hard and sharp tools, alongside wood and cardboard materials, CNC router machine is also capable for engraving acrylics, PVC board, 2 colour board, wooden board, rubber board. These all of the listed applications come in the range of polymers. Polymers have very low strength and also their elastic limit is very high. This means that machining of such materials is very easy and it can be done with the help of tools made up of high-speed steel or tool steel. Engraving on such polymeric materials such as acrylics, PVC boards, 2 colour boards and rubber board is being done since ages. They have a vast application in different sectors of industries and due to easy machinability of these materials, most of the work is done on CNC router machines. Below is a picture that shows the working and engraving is done on different types of polymeric materials including acrylic, PVC board, 2 colour cardboard and also the rubber board as well.

Now coming towards the ceramic materials, CNC router machines also feature for the engraving of very high strength and brittle materials as well. Some of the examples of such materials are density board, marble, glass and crystal. Since these materials have a very large strength so their machining is a little bit difficult. But it is not impossible and it is made easier by changing the process parameters and also the cutting tool applied. Since these materials are very much brittle, so the cutting or engraving that is used is made up of tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide itself is ceramic and it has the potential to engrave many hard materials as well. Since this material is a bit expensive so it is only used in the engraving of ceramic and brittle materials. Below a picture shows the engraving procedures on different ceramic products.

Last but not the least, metals also find very popular applications in CNC router machines. Nowadays, most of the work is being done on metals. This is because of the reason that the new alloys have a very high strength to weight ratio. Due to this purpose, wood is being replaced in many applications of daily life. Now, as in the case of ceramics, the cutting tool is made up of tungsten carbide, in this case, the tool is either made up of tungsten carbide or it is made up of diamond. Since a lot of heat energy is released in the engraving process of metals and a lot of heat is released at the cutting point. So, the tip gets melted and to solve this problem, Diamond is preferred as its melting point is also very high. Some of the metals that are used for engraving by the CNC router machine are copper, aluminium, some steels generally low carbon steels etc. Below is a figure that shows the engraving of different metals by a CNC router machine.

Wood Sign Inscribed Letters

In these types of products, some sort of engraving is done on the wooden piece. Sharp tools are required for the cutting of the wooden material. Inscribing is one of the most common workings which is done by most of the industries from recent times. When the letters and shapes are inscribed, the final product seems to be quite opaque and the inscribing done in the final product can be differentiated easily. the picture below shows how the products look when the letters or shapes are engraved.

Wood Sign Raised Letters

In these types of products manufactured from CNC router machines, engraving is done but it is opposite to the case mentioned above. A large amount of material is removed in this case yet the final product also seems to be opaque. These types of products are also a speciality of CNC router machines. The image below shows the raised letters on the wood by CNC router machines.

Cardboard Templates

For the manufacturing of cardboard templates, firstly the designs are made in software’s on the computers which also include all the dimensions. After that, the appropriate tools are selected which include Donek D4 drag knife and during this process, the feed speed of the machine is maintained at 100"/min with no revolutions per minute. The final product is like the one as shown in the picture below.

360 – Brass Bowtie

CNC router machine does not only work for wooden products only but it is also capable to manufacture metallic products but the condition is that the metals should be non-ferrous.  Decorative products of aluminium, brass, copper and other various non-ferrous metals are produced in a large number by the CNC router machines but in this case, the parameters are quite difficult to handle. The processing speed is also kept low but the RPM is kept very high and parts per minute ratio of the product are also decreased. cutting blades are quite sharp in case of metals because of their high strength as well. The figure below shows some of the parts manufactured by CNC router machines.<

Engraving Granite

Apart from engraving on wood and non-ferrous metals, hard products could also be engraved using CNC router machine. Granite is considered to be one of the hardest metal with high strength. It can also be engraved but for this case, the tip of the cutting tool is usually made up of diamond. Since diamond is the hardest element known to us so Diamond is best for the machining of hard metals. The advantage is that when engraving is done with a diamond cutter, the final finishing is very smooth as shown below.

Application of CNC Router Machine in Industries

There are many CNC router projects which need to be finished by CNC wood router. In almost 80% of the industries, CNC router machines are used for various applications. The most common CNC router projects and CNC router applications are mentioned below.

Furniture Industry

Woodworking engraving is done since ancient times since it has high efficiency than other methods and machines. With the help of CNC router machine, solid wood products are manufactured and they are also more reliable than any other method. Moreover, with the help of CNC router machine, work is done at a faster pace and the parts per minute ratio of the manufactured products are increased. The furniture industry is one of the most established industry in the world and it has a lot of potential in the mass production of wooden products since wood is more reliable than any other material. Since CNC router machines mainly work on the surface of the material, hence in furniture industries, CNC router machines are used in the finishing of the furniture products.

Wood Working Industry

In the woodworking industry, mainly furniture is used. Apart from the furniture industry, when we talk of the wood industry, CNC router machines are used for the application of wooden decoration pieces, doors and windows of the houses, many sports instruments are made from the engraving of wood and much more applications lie in this industry.

Advertising Industry

Several billboards are often seen on the side of the roads or some on the top of the buildings. Many of the advertising boards that are to be kept permanent, engraving is done so that no more edition is done on those advertisement boards. So for this, engraving is done on those advertisement boards. This is a complete industry and CNC router machine has a lot of busy applications in this industry.

Mold Industry

In metallurgy or several industries, molds are also made by the engraving of the sample material. It is said to be an industry because molds of different size and shapes are being made. The easiest method of making molds is by CNC router machines so it is used wisely in the mold industry.

Handicraft Industry

As already mentioned, many decoration materials and also now a day’s keychains and other wooden vehicles, as well as wooden tables that are used for decoration purpose, are made by engraving with the help of CNC router machines. These tough symmetrical shapes are only possible by engraving with CNC machines.

Musical Industry

About 90 % of all the musical instruments are made up of wooden materials on which engraving is done. Engraving is done to ensure the perfect size and shapes of the musical instruments so that they are feasible to operate by the artists. These CNC router machines are used in those industries for perfection in the manufacturing of these musical instruments.

Stone Carving Industry

Engraving on the stone is being done since ancient times. At first, it was used to be done with the hammer and chisel. Now it is properly done with CNC router machines. Carving stones are used as decoration as well as a history in museums all over the world as well. Hence it is a proper industry and CNC machines are continuously working. Nameplates of the graves is also another application of CNC router machine in stone carving industry.

Medical Industry

In the medical industry, CNC router machines are used for the application of

  1. Implants
  2. Research equipment
  3. Electrical parts
  4. Pieces made with high-temperature plastic
  5. Orthotic devices
  6. Shielded enclosures
  7. Customized packaging
  8. Medical instruments
  9. Electronic enclosures
  10. MRI machines
  11. Monitoring devices

Aerospace Industry

In the aerospace industry, several parts are made using CNC router machines which include several components of the air crafts as well. These include

  1. Manifolds
  2. Electrical connectors
  3. Bushings
  4. Antennae
  5. Airfoils
  6. Radiofrequency suppression material

Transportation Industry

CNC router machines have a role in the transportation industry in such a way that the many components of the vehicles are passed through CNC router machines. Hence it also has applications in the transportation industry as well.

  1. Shipping vessels
  2. 18 Wheel transport trucks
  3. Automobiles
  4. Passenger vehicles
  5. Freight trains
  6. Passenger rails

Oil and Gas Industry

CNC router machines are used for the production of oil and gas pipelines, hinges used in pipeline fittings etc. and many more. Several applications include

  1. Pins
  2. Drill bits
  3. Rods
  4. Pistons
  5. Valves
  6. Cylinders

Military and Defense Industry

Military industry includes various sectors so many industries are linked to military hence they are collectively called as military and defense industry. Various applications in which CNC router machines are used include

  1. Electronics
  2. Plane parts
  3. Communication and transportation components

Electronics Industry

In the electronic industry, the applications are mostly the parts that are used for the protection of communication products. These parts include

  1. Heat Sinks
  2. Radio Frequency shielding
  3. Amplifying housing
  4. Electrical insulations

Marine Industry

CNC router machines also have a wide range of applications in marine industries as well. Mostly are the products of the ships and submarines. Many corrosion-resistant products are used in the marine industry which needs very sharp fittings and smooth finishing so these are made by CNC router machines. These applications include

  1. Insulating cases
  2. Electronic parts
  3. Boat parts
  4. Prototypes mold
  5. Propeller


To summarize, we can say that wood CNC machine serves a great purpose in different industries along with the globe. The working with CNC router machines is much easier as compared to various traditional methods. CNC router can engrave a wide range of materials including acrylics, PVC board, 2 colour board, wooden board, rubber board, copper, aluminium, low carbon steels, density board, marble, glass and crystal. These materials have applications in the woodworking industry, furniture industry, advertisement industry, mold industry, musical industry, stone carving industry and handicraft industry as well. It also has potential in many other industries as well.

The above is the main content of this blog, including the working of CNC router machines, classification of CNC router, processing materials of engraving machines, processing projects of CNC router machines, and application industries of CNC router machines. After reading this blog, do you know what is the CNC router used for? As a professional CNC machine manufacturer, Blue Elephant can provide you with various types of engraving machines including various CNC wood router, 4 axis CNC router, 5 axis CNC router, rotary axis CNC router, mini CNC router, small CNC router, home CNC router, hobby CNC router, used CNC router, stone CNC router machines to meet your processing needs of all walks of life. In addition, we also provide users with customized CNC router production solutions to meet your personalized production plan. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us.