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CNC Mill or CNC Router?

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  • CNC Mill or CNC Router?

    I have been trying to decide what would work best for me and my understanding of routers is pretty slim. That being said, I want a machine that is capable of doing some aluminum cutting. I make skateboard trucks out of 6061 and 7075 aluminum plate. Some of the parts are fairly intricate but nothing you cant do on a 3 axis cnc. I also make boards so having a router would be an advantage. I am curious what a mill can do that a router cant do.

    The setup that I am thinking about is a Cobra with a 10hp Spindle, T-Slot Table, ATC, and a mister system.

    I'm curious if this would be capable to cut out parts from 3/4" aluminum plate and if it would be able to do it quickly/efficiently. Thanks.
  • #2

    You can certainly cut aluminum, but not as well as a mill would. But the Cobra will give you so many more options, especially if you are cutting boards. For the boards, you will be able to make press molds, cut the mounting holes and slots, profile, etc.

    If you are going with the Cobra, you might want a phenolic top, as the moisture from the mister used for cutting aluminum will swell the MDF top.
    Russell Crawford
    Cobra 408 ATC with recoil
    Alberta, Canada


    • #3

      I have both a CNC mill and a router, really two different animals. I tend to think of the mill as being more accurate and more geared toward heavy metal work. Certainly you can cut AL on a router but it's not something I would want to do very much of. I also don't like mixing metal and wood on the same machine as you tend to end up with a huge mess. I tried cutting a fair amount of wood before I bought the router using the mill so have some experience there.

      From what little you say I would consider a router and then farm-out the small amount of metalwork to a place with the proper tools.

      Stinger I Router / WinCNC
      SprutCAM, V-Carve,ZW3D
      Tormach PC1100 / Mach3


      • #4

        I would really like to save space and money by buying only one machine. I have just always been curious if a router would be able to produce the same quality of part as a mill. All of our metalwork is done in batches so mess wouldn't really be a problem. I would definitely want a table that isn't mdf. It would be awesome to be able to leave a sheet of material on the router and come back with all of the parts cut out.


        • #5

          You will not get the mirror finish on a router like from a mill. What makes a Mill so accurate is the weight. This is why a welded machine like ours will give a better cut hat a bolt together kit machine.

          A mill is the way to go for doing a lot of Aluminum. But a router can cut it. We cut out parts for our machines for years on one of our machines. We now have a Haas Mill.

          Hope this helps.
          Joey Jarrard

          US Router Tools
          888-720-TOOL (8665)