Routers are fantastic tools to use both for handymen and for the average Joe working around the house. Routers can be used to make grooves, edges, patterns, and other cuts into wood as well as other materials. Routers are very convenient tools for building things like shelves, cabinets, and other household furniture. Something that is even more convenient for making these various products even quicker is something called a CNC router.
CNC stands for computer numerical control and it uses special computer programming to make the cuts better and more accurately. A CNC router is great because all you have to do is enter the pattern in the computer program and let the router do the cutting itself. This is fantastic because it eliminates the chance of human error due to the fact that the router arm is controlled by machinery. Generally speaking routers are usually used on wood, but they can also be used on other materials and the answer to the title question is yes, CNC routers can be used on transparent acrylic in order to make divots, patterns, and special edges. There are a few tips and things that you need to know in order to be able to use CNC router to cut acrylic properly.
CNC routers can definitely be used to make special cuts as well as patterns in acrylic. However one thing that you need to know is that depending on the type of acrylic you may be able to see the tool marks on the other side of the transparent plastic. The area that has been worked on by the CNC router may become slightly blurry, but if you use the right bit that shouldn’t happen. The first step to making the router cuts into the clear acrylic is to enter the pattern you wish to make into the computer through a series of numerical values. It may sound a little complicated, but the instructions as to how to enter the pattern on to the computer program will be included in the instruction manual with your specific CNC router.
One of the things that you want to be sure to do is to keep the transparent acrylic material firmly in place while the router is doing its thing. If you don’t have the material held firmly in place with something like clamps, or better yet full surface double sided sticky tape then the material will become blurred where the cut was made. Also the cut will be very rough because the material was able to vibrate and move around slightly during cutting
The next thing to keep in mind is what kind of bit that you have on the router. It’s probably best to stay away from stainless steel because they tend to be cheaper and much less sharp. The best bit type to choose for your CNC router when working on transparent acrylic is carbide because they are much stronger and sharper. They will create a sharper cut and they don’t have as much of a chance of leaving blurry lines behind. If you really want to be sure that you aren’t going to damage the acrylic or plastic then you should contact the manufacturer of your CNC router to get a bit specifically designed for plastics and acrylics.
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Once you have taken all of the steps we’ve mentioned all you have to do is push the button and let the router cut out the patterns which you coded into it.