A CNC router is a computer controlled shaping machine. These are related to the hand held router. Instead of hand held routing, the tool paths can be controlled via computer numerical control. It is a computer-controlled machine for cutting various hard materials, such as wood, composites, aluminum, steel, plastics, and foams. It is one of many kinds of tools that have CNC variants. A CNC router is very similar in concept to a CNC milling machine.
A CNC router can be used in the production of many different items, such as door carvings, interior and exterior decorations, wood panels, sign boards, wooden frames, moldings, musical instruments, furniture, and so on. In addition, the CNC router helps in the thermoforming of plastics by automating the trimming process. CNC routers can help ensure part repeatability and sufficient factory output.
CNC routers come in many configurations, from small home-style D.I.Y. "desktop" CNC routers to large "gantry" CNC routers used in boat-making facilities. Although there are many configurations, most CNC routers have a few specific parts: a dedicated CNC controller, one or more spindle motors, servo motors, servo amplifiers, AC inverter drives, linear guides, ball nuts and a workspace table or tables. In addition, CNC routers may have vacuum pumps and fixtures to hold the parts in place for cutting.
The CNC router is controlled by a computer. Coordinates are uploaded into the machine controller from a separate CAD program. CNC router owners often have two software applications—one program to make designs (CAD) and another to translate those designs into a 'G-Code' program of instructions for the machine (CAM). As with CNC milling machines, CNC routers can be controlled directly by manual programming, and CAD/CAM opens up wider possibilities for contouring, speeding up the programming process and in some cases creating programs whose manual programming would be, if not truly impossible, certainly commercially impractical.