Learn the Differences and Capabilities of CNC Woodworking Machines

CNC machines typically perform three basic functions: drilling holes into, routing patterns onto the face of, and cutting straight or curved parts from flat wood-based sheets. This article will explore the two main categories of machines that perform these functions.

CNC Machining Centers

CNC machining centers are fairly sophisticated machines commonly referred to as pod and rail or point-to-point machines. These machines are primarily used to drill horizontal and vertical holes onto pre-cut flat wood panels. Many point-to-point machines also use drill bits to do routing onto the face of the panels. Still, the primary function is typically to drill holes. The pre-sized wood panels are positioned on movable pods and are secured in place during the drilling process by vacuum through the pods or by mechanical clamping – especially for smaller parts. CNC machining centers typically have two or more working zones that accommodate multi-zone drilling /routing.

Popular brands of CNC machining centers include: Biesse, Busellato, Holz-Her, Homag, Masterwood, Morbidelli, SCMI, Unitech, and Weeke.

Pod and rail machines are often utilized in larger production processing operations where there is a need for greater throughput than normally achieved by smaller nesting type machines.

CNC Routers

CNC flat table routers are more commonly known as CNC routers. These machines are primarily utilized for shaping panels (routing) as well as for creating miscellaneous parts from panels. The panels are typically made from sheets or solid wood, composite wood, plastic or non ferrous metals cnc router machine.

The panels being routed are fixed to the machining table with mechanical clamps or by vacuum suction. Routers usually have one or two working tables. They can have one or as many as four router heads operating at the same time. These machines are computer controlled working along two to five axes; three axis is the most common configuration. Most routers also do drilling although their primary function is routing.

The secondary process of making parts from larger panels is known as nesting. The nesting process optimizes the making of the parts to achieve the best possible yields from the given flat panel sheets. CNC machines are used for nesting by smaller shops for two reasons: 1)to avoid the need for a panel saw; or 2) for smaller, custom jobs where the advantages of a panel beam saw are not realized.

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