There isn't such a huge difference in the two machines, but the significance is highly notable. Put simply, a CNC Router is for soft jobs like wood, plastic and foam, as it takes very less time in handling those jobs. It is not for industrial grade jobs.
A CNC Milling machine is for hard jobs where much time is needed. Milling cutters are used to remove material
EasyRouter Lite a CNC Router from Advanced Machinery
from the surface of a workpiece. Some CNC routers are like the ones we have at Advanced Machinery, which are designed to cut on soft metal like aluminium. Routers will generally be built to be a bit light in mass, since their duty is to go soft.
Because materials like wood often come in large sheets, many routers have a very large cutting surface such as 1.5 metres, and a fairly small Z axis, typically 5 to 30 cm. Because there is such a large travel area, routers typically have
You don't find a router in an office environment
high cut and jog rates. For example, some routers can jog at 30 cm per second. Because the cutting size and travel speed of CNC routers is usually high, there is one tradeoff. CNC routers are typically less accurate than mills because soft materials usually don’t need to be machined precisely to the thousands of an inch. Modern routers are
This is a spindle
equipped with a spindle to power your cutting tool.
The CNC Milling Machine
This is a different animal altogether. It mill hard materials, ranging from aluminum to hardened steel or even titanium (which melts at 1725°C). Mills are very often used to mill machine parts, and because of this requirement, mills are very accurate. Generally, a mill is accurate to a thousandth of an inch or better. To achieve this accuracy, mills are often made with die cast iron or other extremely hard material which does not flex even under load. This makes mills several times heavier than CNC routers.
CNC mills have a much slower jog speed because hard materials are cut much more slowly than soft materials. Mills use spindles, since spindles are good at low RPM (revolutions per minute) required for cutting metal. Because mills are often used with a rotary indexer, many CNC mills have a large Z-axis.
A mill will most certainly cost higher than a router equal in size. See our router prices here. Actually, mills typically have a very small cutting area. To get anything past half a metre could cost you a few hundred thousands rands.
Example of a CNC Milling machine
In summary, this is what we are saying. A router is a motor that is used to cut wood. When attached to CNC it becomes a CNC router. A miller is usuallly an industrial grade milling machine that can mill steel also and pretty much whatever you throw at it (not stones please). These are pretty of rigid elephants and are meant for handeling heavy duty work. A CNC router is generally limited to cutting soft non ferrous materials. Their construction is less rigid than a milling machine. Router designs will vary and hey, there's just billions of them out there. Did I mention that you can hit a visit any day and witness one in action at Advanced Machinery's workshop? There's always one lying around.
Click here to read about our new EasyRoute CNC Lite Router.