A CNC router is basically a router mounted on a mechanism that allows it to travel on an X and Y axis as well as up and down. This movement is controlled by a computer or laptop. CNC stands for computer numerical control. This basically means that the machine uses mathematical formulas to move and cut. You don’t need to know math but the software does. A CNC router uses scalable vector graphics to cut from. Sign cutters (vinyl plotter) also use vector files but a CNC router file also contains data that controls the depth of the blade. In other words, the router will cut in 3D.
CNC routers can create a huge variety of products. They create foam letters, aluminum parts, cabinet doors, integrated furniture, wooden signs, stencils, 3D art, guitars, plastic parts, toys, engraved products, picture frames, switch plates, stamps and dies, plaques, and much more. If you can imagine it, a CNC router can cut it.
If you create the right products and keep your router productive you can easily make $50 – $200 per hour. It really depends on the products you are making. Sometimes the more boring products like name plates will make you the most money. The key is customization. Duplicating easy to find products like toys or furniture will make you a little bit but creating hard to find custom products for industrial or commercial applications can make you a lot of money.
The amazing CarveWright compact and powerful CNC woodcarving machine measures only 15″ x 18″ x 26″ yet can create amazing products! The rising head and feed-through configuration accepts work pieces 14-1/2″ wide, 5″ high, and with proper support, almost any desired length. Using the CarveWright woodworking system is simple. First you design your project on the CarveWright Designer software which is included. Then choose from images in the CarveWright software library or import images from a source of your choosing. Upload the project that you have created to a special memory card and slide that card into the CarveWright machine. There is no need to attach your computer to the CarveWright machine. After inserting the memory card into the CarveWright , the onboard LCD display will guide you, step by step, through your project. The CarveWright woodworking CNC can be used to perform a variety of functions such as routing, cutting, carving and jointing and has a patented “Quick Change System” that allows the bits to be easily removed and replaced. In fact, CarveWright will automatically choose the correct bit for your job and measure your work piece.The intuitive and easy to use PC or Mac compatible software package contains simple toolbars that allow you to manipulate your design on a 3-dimensional representation of your work piece. Images can be “dragged and dropped” onto the work piece display, allowing you to combine images, add text, size and re-shape, or adjust the carving depth. You can even draw your design using 2D drawing capabilities. The CarveWright Woodworking System comes equipped with virtually everything needed to get started. Included are one carving bit, one cutting bit, two 1/4″ bit adapters, a vacuum bag, a bit removal tool, a CarveWright 0-45 degrees with programmer, CarveWright design software, users manual and a one year warranty. Note: The CarveWright CNC machines are available in the continental United States only.
With the Rockler Shark CNC Router you can bring the speed and precision of computer-controlled machinery to your shop. This top value CNC system measures 28-1/2” x 36” it’s ideally suited for carvings and machining operations on a large variety of signs,cabinet doors and other small projects. It has impressive power, speed, accuracy, and is easy to use. It is constructed of robust steel and high-density polyethylene which insures a long service life. The capable machine can take accidental impacts that would normally damage or destroy an aluminum or MDF constructed machine.
It is fully compatible with the Bosch Colt Palm Router and includes a 1/2″ diameter V-groove router bit. The CNC Shark also includes the new version 5.5 of the VCarve Pro software interface which is a $600 value. All you supply is a PC computer or laptop with USB 2.0 port and a Bosch Colt router (router sold separately). Simply connect the USB cable to the controller box and the other end to your computer (not compatible with Mac computers).
This CNC router is made in the U.S.A and features: *Enhanced controller with more power that allows up to 200 inches per min. * Increased travel on the machine with a max cutting capacity of 25 x 25 x 5 inches. * Automatic on and off software control of Router. * Professional Aluminum case with Push button Stop. * Pendant control capability included (Designed for numeric laptop keypad). * Cut 3D software included ($300 Value!). * There are 20 3D models, and a font and graphic package provided. * Extended Aluminum T slot top (28-1/2” x 36”) for more versatile clamping. * Precision lead Screws with anti backlash on all the axis.
Enhanced controller with more power that allows up to 200 inches per min
Cut 3D software included ($300 Value!)
Extended Aluminum T slot top (28-1/2” x 36”)
Includes V-Carve 5.5 software, 1/2” dia. V-groove Bit and 2 hold-down clamps
Precision lead Screws with anti backlash on all axis
The Shopbot Buddy BT32 and BT48 CNC routers are amazing and affordable machines capable of creating an unimaginable number of products. The machines cut and shape in 3D and are in many ways like a robotic carving machines. A CNC router is also like a saw but will cut in multiple directions. All controlled by a computer or laptop and some easy to use CAD/CAM Design software.
The Shopbot Buddy is a small footprint CNC router designed for industrial, commercial, or hobby applications. It is able to cut wood, acrylic, and soft metals like aluminum or brass. Like all CNC machines the Shopbot Buddy is controlled via a computer software program which enables you to make everything from simple cut-out shapes to complicated 3 dimensional carvings. The Buddy is different from most CNC routers which are very expensive and designed for industrial applications only. The Shopbot Buddy model BT32 and BT48 incorporate many of the same features as full-size industrial systems. The machines weigh less than 600lbs and require about 16 square feet of room. Both machines come with easy to use but functional software to drive the machine to make parts for everything from the dedicated home improver to a small business owner. Shopbot Buddies are available in two models. One had a 24″x32″ work area and the other has a 24″x48″ work area. Shopbot Buddies come pre-assembled and are ready to plug in and use. Shopbot offers a PowerStick attachment which allows you to work with materials up to 12 feet in length.
Zen toolworks has a very interesting product that allows you to convert a basic router to a CNC computer controlled router. This is a DIY kit for creating CNC carving machine. This kit creates a CNC carving machine to do relief carving, letter cutting, inlay and other woodworking projects. Instructions for putting this kit together are online and there are plenty of pictures and a few videos showing the machine being assembled. The kit also comes with a CD that has videos.
This Zen CNC DIY kit comes with all of the mechanical parts that you need and 3 stepper motors. You need to remember that the machine does not come with any cutting (carving) tool or driver (controller) boards for the stepper motors. If you need a carving tool (router) to go with the kit, Zen Toolworks sells a spindle motor and bracket kit separately for around $70.00. This kit is a perfect fit for this machine. Stepper motor driver boards are available from several places on the internet. There is plenty of support for this kit via google and discussion boards. As far as the driver boards, you can build your own from instructions that are available online. Your level of expertise and knowledge about electronics will determine how you assemble the kit.
I general, people are very satisfied with this kit and its capabilities. It rarely gets a bad review. The kit comes in two sizes. A 7″ x 7″ and a 12″ x 12″. The kits run $330 and $600 respectively. As stated before, a motor kit adds about $70.
The body of the machine is constructed with high density PVC material. Steel guide rods, linear bearings and stainless steel hardware are utilized to assemble all the moving parts. New Nema 17 motors are included for all three axis. The installation easy and all you need is a bench vise and a power screw driver. There are online videos available and an install instruction CD is included in the package. Assembling the CNC router takes around 3-4 hours. It is amazing what you can create with this little machine. It is sturdy, precise and within any budget. The video below shows the machine in use.