Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find some of the most common questions we get asked. However, if you have any further enquiries, please feel free to get in touch with our team by filling the form.

What is a CNC router?

CNC technology has been around since the 1940s, when a CNC mill was first controlled by an analog computer. That system gradually gave way to an all-electronic control via a computerised code, which eventually led to the digital control used today.

CNC literally stands for Computer Numerical Control, meaning that the physical movements of the machine (milling, drilling and cutting) are controlled by a computer via a complex mathematical coordination system. Its main functions are to cut, engrave and carve objects out, essentially a replacement for the usual hand-held router. By introducing computer control to the process, the number of potential errors or miscalculations is dramatically decreased.

A computer moves the router or spindle on the CNC in 3 different directions (aka axes) to cut out different materials such as wood, composites, aluminium, steel, plastics, glass, and foams to a pre-determined shape from a digital file. There is the X axis (which always moves from side to side as you face the machine,) the Y axis (which always moves from front to rear as you face the machine,) and the Z axis (which always moves up and down.)

How to Prepare a CAD File

• Send something in writing, or an Email.

• Please save Autocad dwg files as version 2000.

• Illustrator files should be sent as ai. files. (Please note that EPS, PDF's, jpeg's and Bitmaps are acceptable also).

• Google Sketchup files can be sent but leave shapes flattened, do not use the push/pull function.

• For 3D files please send either OBJ or STL file types.

• It's always a good idea to also send a PDF file so we can check against the CAD file, which can sometimes be corrupted when converting to our CAD/CAM software.

• Intersecting curves and lines need to connect, unintentional broken vectors will require welding (joining)

• Lines on top of each other can cause problems.

CNC vs Laser

We are often asked what the difference is between CNC milling and routing and its more common cousin, laser cutting.

The main difference is that laser has to either cut all the way through a piece, or just do a shallow etch – there’s no middle ground. A laser cutter can cut a large variety of materials, including very thin materials, but it will often leave a burnt edge on the likes of timber, ply and MDF.

CNC routing machines, however, can cut into a material as deep or as shallow as you want, leaving only smooth definition or hollowed out sections. A CNC mill or router has more flexibility in that it can cut thick materials, and it can cut quick. It doesn't leave a burn mark and profile edges can be shaped or rounded over.

2D vs 3D

Another point of discussion is 2D and 3D routing.

2D means only the x and y axis move in conjunction with each other simultaneously. An example of a 2D job would be a simple MDF rectangle door used in kitchen cabinetry.

A 3D job is when the x, y and z axis all work in conjunction with each other simultaneously. An example of a 3D job would be the machining of a landscape or topography.

Still have some questions for us?