The CNC router
table is a very important part of the router machine since it holds the unfinished object firmly in place until the process is completed. An ideal CNC router table should be sufficiently rigid and should have a clamping or vacuum system that is effective and offers flexibility in operation. There are various types of router tables that are used as per the requirements of the user.
Materials that can be processed by CNC routing machines
CNC routing machines can be used to provide finishing and can also shape various materials such as...
o Plywood, MDF, Solid Hardwood
o Acrylic, Plastic, Melamine, Composites
o Aluminum, certain varieties of Stone, etc.
Wood, plastic and aluminum are some of the preferred items that are processed by these machines. However, the required material has to be placed on a table or bed before the router starts the process, which is initiated by the operator through the attached computer. This is where a CNC router table comes into the picture. The table will hold the piece in place while the router that is assisted by various motors and tools, converts the computer design into a 2D or 3D physical shape.
Different types of CNC router tables
One of the costlier tables that do not require any clamping is the vacuum tabletop. It can be used to hold most materials in position in a contact-less manner. However, additional plumbing along with a filter and relief valve will be required. Another top is the T-Slot tabletop that can be made of steel or aluminum as per the user's requirements. The steel tops are quite heavy as compared to the extruded aluminum ones. Another variation is the perforated tabletop, which is priced even lower than the T-Slot table. However, users can also go in for a simple tabletop made of MDF wood, especially in situations where the chances of damaging the table are more.
Pros and cons of a CNC router table
Pros - Be it a hobbyist working in the garage or a professional production house, a CNC router table is an absolute necessity since it can hold the job-work precisely as various machines work over it. This results in perfectly finished products, which translate into fewer rejections and the process uses less time as compared to a manual machine. The risk factor is also lessened considerably especially when routing machines with multiple axes work over the material.
Cons - The basic problem is that these tables occupy a lot of space, especially when the job/work involves large sheets of plastic, metal or wood that need to be routed. Users do get tempted to sometimes go in for a bigger table after anticipating their future needs. On the other hand, the right sized table is absolutely necessary for completing the required process quickly and efficiently.
A CNC router table might not be appreciated once it is installed but it plays an important part in increasing safety and efficiency on a CNC router or engraving machine. The right sized CNC router table will enable users to carry on with their processes in a seamless manner even as the table silently does the required job.
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