5 Reasons Why a CNC Milling Machine is Better Than a Laser Cutter

What is the difference between CNC routing services and laser cutting? This is a question we get asked a lot!

A CNC router (Computer Numerical Control) is a computer-programmed machine that follows design files to shape, cut or engrave materials. A laser cutting machine uses a high-powered, computer-controlled laser beam to cut through materials. 

When it comes to precision manufacturing, we believe one method stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that’s CNC milling. While laser cutting has its merits, CNC machines offer unmatched accuracy, versatility, and flexibility. 

Read on to learn why we think CNC cutting reigns supreme over laser cutting…

1. Automated Accuracy

When using an industrial-grade cutting tool for a project, being precise is paramount. No matter how well trained or dexterous a person is, sometimes it’s best to leave perfection to the professionals. In this case, the computers.

With its precise control and intricate detailing capabilities, a CNC routing machine will ensure that every cut and every curve is executed with absolute accuracy. The process is automatic from start to finish, which increases efficiency and reduces the risk of human error or interference.

Laser cutting may have speed on its side, but routing takes the cake when it comes to delivering high-quality results that can be replicated over and over and turn out the same every time.

2. Versatility Across Materials

From woods and plastics, to metals, foams and composites, the CNC cutting process can conquer many different materials effortlessly.

Whilst laser cutters can only really handle thin materials, CNC machining is great for both thin and thick materials. They can cut into a medium as deep or as shallow as you need, creating either smooth indentations or seamlessly cut-out circular hollows. 

Whether you're crafting custom furniture, shop signs and fit-outs, instruments or backdrops, CNC routing rises to the challenge with superior results across the board. 

3. Enhanced Depth and Detail

Laser cutting methods are known for being slick and speedy on flat surfaces, and they can burn out shapes with stunning detail. However, they do have to either cut all the way through a piece or just do a shallow etch – there’s not really any middle ground or room for flexibility. 

CNC milling machines, on the other hand, can add depth and dimensionality to any material no matter its texture or composition.

CNCs can easily create and cut out complex shapes and designs, from intricate patterns and reliefs to three-dimensional sculptures to straight lines.

4. Minimal Material Distortion

As the name suggests, a laser cutter uses intense heat to burn, melt and vaporise materials down to create a cut edge.

That level of heat exposure can sometimes lead to material distortion. It will often leave a burnt edge on the likes of timber, plywood and MDF, or if in contact with a material for too long, warp or discolour it.

A CNC routing machine minimises the amount of heat it generates (which is more friction than fire) to preserve the integrity of the project it is working on. 

5. Cost-Effective Solutions

In the quest for cost-effectiveness, CNC routing emerges as the clear winner here too. With its ability to handle a wide range of materials, make intricate designs and produce minimal waste, operational costs are kept down. This makes CNC routing a much cheaper alternative without compromising on quality.

CNC machining services a wide array of different industries, from advertising and retail to automotive, medical and everything in between.

It is suitable for both small and large production runs, but it is especially cost-effective when doing the latter. This makes it the obvious choice for builders, architects and hobbyists wanting to make several different prototypes or mass-produce pieces on an industrial scale for residential and commercial projects.