The appearance of computer numerical control machines represented a major revolution in many industries. They changed manufacturing processes and possibilities, made it possible to improve the quality of the final product, and increased the profitability and efficiency of many companies.
What is a CNC for wood?
A computer numerical control system, known by the acronym CNC, consists of using a computer or computer to control the movements of a machine or tool. In the case of wood, the normal thing is to control the path taken by a cutter using a computer system. Therefore, they are also known as CNC milling machines.
This type of machinery is not exclusive to the world of wood. It is used in all types of sectors and with a wide variety of tools: laser cutting, saws, water jet, lathes, robotic arms …
Advantages or benefits of a CNC milling machine
Some of the benefits that have made this type of machinery present in more and more companies are:
- Speed. Not only do they perform a task faster, but they can also perform multiple tasks at the same time without changing tools or stopping to measure …
- Precision. Obviously, they offer much more precision, as long as the CNC is well calibrated, than manual labor can offer.
- Reduction of the number of errors.
- They allow you to perform work that otherwise could not be done, would be too expensive or there would be a high likelihood of error. Think, for example, of certain curved cuts in the wood.
- Large capacity customization. It allows meeting the demand of any consumer. Just update or modify the execution of the movements.
If we put it all together, we will come to a clear conclusion. The use of CNC technology in a company can represent a cost reduction, and also a greater offer of products or services by the company.
Types of computer numerical control for Wood
The supply and possibilities offered by this type of machinery continue to grow. We can find everything from small systems with basic and ideal functions for small workshops or even amateurs, to large industrial systems.
A fundamental difference between a basic CNC and a more advanced one is the number of axes you can work. A basic system allows movement in three axes: x-axis (from left to right), y-axis (forward and backward) and z-axis (up and down). An advanced CNC, on the other hand, would allow not only linear movements, but also rotary movements (adjustable heads and rotary tables), with which to perform machining operations in different planes and approach angles.
In the world of carpentry and joinery, numerical control lathes. This allows you to perform a wide variety of wood turning quickly and accurately. This type of machinery is less common in small and medium-sized businesses, unless one of its lines of business is rotary.
What is the purpose of a CNC machine in carpentry?
A computer numerical control can give wings to a workshop, carpentry or industry. This would allow you to do jobs like:
- Cutting boards: solid wood, chipboard, MDF, HPL …
- Machining: hinge holes, holes …
- Profiles, frames …
- Carvings, engravings, artistic works …
Note: Incorporating machines of this type in any company also generates a series of needs. The use of a CNC requires certain knowledge, so it will be necessary to train or hire personnel to work with this type of machinery. It also needs regular maintenance and checks. And, of course, an operator to assemble and disassemble the parts at the CNC, replace the cutters, etc.
Steps for working with a CNC milling machine
The work to be performed by a CNC requires a few steps:
- Project. For this, CAD (computer-aided design) programs are used. These allow you to generate the virtual part or final drawing, with its measurements, machining, etc.
- Calculation of movements. In this step, CAM technology (computer aided manufacturing) is used, where movements along the axes are determined, the use of different tools, if applicable, turning speed, etc.
- Execution. The CNC control software receives the instructions and executes them.
Where to buy a wood CNC?
While the technology may seem new to many workers, it is not. There are companies that have been selling and improving this type of machinery for years, so it is not difficult to find it. A simple search on the Internet will return hundreds of results. There is also a wide variety of second hand.
For those interested from an amateur point of view or simply to present themselves in the field, there is also a wide range of “desktop” cnc machines at very low costs. Obviously, the functionality is not the same as that of a professional machine.
What are the best woods to work with CNC?
Not all CNC machines are the same, as we already said, not all woods are the same. Choosing the right raw material is fundamental for a good result.
What characteristics should the wood have?
Defect-free wood. Knots, cracks, gaps, folds, etc. represent a problem. Therefore, we must not only choose a species with a reduced number of defects, we must also make a selection of tables.
Preferably light woods. The harder and dense a wood is, the more work it needs and the more wear and tear on machinery. Also keep in mind that cnc carpentry work has a lot to do with precision.
Woods such as poplar, okume, paulownia or balsa are good options. We can also resort to the use of boards like mdf (which offers excellent results) and plywood (the quality of the boards must be checked).