Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all having functions and uses in different areas of manufacturing. The basic components of CNC router tools include a controller, a computer system, a spindle with CNC router bits, a cutting bed and a certain kind of drive system. Computer systems and controllers work together to guide the spindle, while the spindle cuts the material using certain types of router bits. The cutting bed is the work area where the process takes place and the drive system is the component that drives the spindle along the bed, making it cut certain patterns and in certain fashions. There are many different kinds of CNC router tools, and they are used to cut material such as wood or metal.
One type of router tool is used in industrial settings and makes up the majority of routers that are in circulation. Companies that do woodworking have numerous amounts of these types of machines and use them to perform sometimes intricate cuts to wood. These CNC router tools perform complex and ornate cuts in order to make end products like doors, furniture or signs. The CNC machines are quite large and expensive, but are durable and able to last for long hours of operation and extreme conditions. A router of this kind can cut at fast speeds, change CNC router parts such as tools automatically, and has a complete interface, amongst other features.
Most CNC router tools operate in three directions — or axes — labeled X, Y, and Z. This allows a spindle to move in three dimensions for more flexibility in cutting. Some machines, however, offer a tool that operates by more than three axes, working with four or even five axes. These are called multi-axis routers, and the biggest difference between this type of router and a standard router is that the former has a spindle that can rotate on one or two more planes. This kind of machine is more complex and much more expensive, requiring additional training to use.
Other types of CNC router tools include machines that can do engraving in addition to cutting material. Some CNC cutters may be used to engrave 3D objects and work on tougher material such as granite or metal. Other types of routers include a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) router that can create and design circuit boards. This is very beneficial when combined with the computer system because it makes the process much easier to do and eliminates the need to do any manual etching.