CNC Routing

 

Your files

  • Units — exclusively millimetres

  • Scale — always 1:1

These are our favourite file-types:

  • .3dm — used by Rhino

  • .dxf — Drawing eXchange Format used by AutoCAD, and various other software

We can import most formats, so give us a try and we'll let you know if there's a problem. Most importantly your design should be stored as vectors rather than pixels, if that doesn't make sense, just ask us.

 

Layout

The machine thinks in 2D so if you have a design in 3D, we want to see it. However, we won't be able to cut it or give you an accurate quote until it's converted into 2D.

Once you've got all your outlines in 2D, lay out your pieces, let us know how many you need and if the grain direction matters to you.

 

Sizes & Thicknesses

Our machine bed is 2440 × 1220 mm (8' by 4' in old money). We need a small margin, so the maximum size of a single component is 2430 × 1210 mm.

As standard, we cut up to 32 mm thickness material. We will consider thicker materials on a case by case basis.

 

Layers

We use layers to describe each separate operation the machine will carry out.

type of cut, followed by tool property (diameter, radius, angle...) and finally the depth of cut

  • profile — closed lines describing outside and inside edges of components.

  • pocket-12mm — pocket using a 6 mm ball-nose to 12 mm depth.

  • drill-d5-16mm — 5 mm diameter holes to 16 mm depth.

  • annotations — anything that won't be machined, like quantities, grain direction, notes, etc.

Artboard 1@2x.png
 

 Types of cut

  • profile

The cutter cuts through the whole thickness of the material. The path of the cutter is aligned to run either outside or inside of a closed line to cut-out components and create openings within them.

  • pocket

The cutter clears out an area to a depth as defined by a closed curve.

  • online

The cutter follows an open or closed curve centred on the line. This type of cut is useful for labelling parts with an engraving cutter, creating grooves and chamfers.

  • drill

Round holes, they can be through or to a depth. Where possible we will use a drill for these as it produces the best results.

 

Tooling

Our cutters rotate clockwise and take material away along their cutting edge, as a result they leave behind different shapes in the material. We stock them in several standard sizes, and can obtain more if you need:

Artboard 1@2x.png

 Depth of cut

The depth of cut is how far down the tip of the tool goes into the material, in millimetres. It is measured from the top of the material.

If you want to:

  • take 3 mm away from the material, the depth is 3 mm.

  • leave 3 mm thickness, the depth is the thickness of the material minus 3 e.g. 18 - 3 = 15 mm.

  • go through the material, the depth matches the thickness of the material e.g. 18 mm.

Other design considerations

 

Dog-bone fillets & T-bone fillets

We can help you by adding the fillets to your drawing where necessary, let us know if this would be helpful.

fillet.png

Router cutters are round and cannot get into the internal corners. Material is left behind.

t-bone 1.png

The corners of this rectangle have been expanded into “T-bone” fillets to allow the cutter to get into the corners.

dogbone.png

The corners of this rectangle have been expanded into “dog-bone” fillets to allow the cutter to get into the corners.

t-bone 2.png

“T-bone” fillets can be made to go either way, and in some cases can be entirely hidden between components.

Nesting

Arranging components to fit within a sheet of material is called nesting.

We prefer to carry out nesting ourselves, we know our machine and cutters well, and have good algorithms for doing it quickly and efficiently.