CNC Routers and Laser Cutter are key equipment in the Plastics Cutting and Fabrication Industry. 

However, people are always confused and can’t decide which of these is more useful for their daily work. Once you learn the difference between CNC Router and Laser Cutter then you can choose them with ease while saving time and money.

You’ve probably heard of CNC cutting (or routing) and laser cutting before and have a basic understanding of what they do.

Despite this, the majority of people have trouble distinguishing between CNC cutting machines and laser cutter machines as the same type of machine.

Laser cutting, after all, has a big giveaway in its name! However, beyond certain very simple concepts, it can be difficult to understand exactly what both of these devices do.

Well, these are well-known among people, especially among carpenters and furniture manufacturers, as a better solution for cutting. While both methods produce complex parts and components in a timely and reliable manner, they operate in different ways.

It’s much more difficult to find out what the differences and benefits are between them.

Let’s take a closer look at it.

CNC Cutting

Computer Numerical Control is shortened as CNC. A computer-controlled cutting machine is known as a CNC router. In essence, a CNC system is a tool that is programmed to obtain and understand ideas from a computer and then direct a cutter, normally a router bit or a laser, through the process.

It is a portable machine that can cut a variety of hard materials such as wood, aluminium, steel, plastic, and foam. It may perform the functions of a panel saw, a boring unit, and a spindle moulder, among other carpentry instruments.

With CNC cutting, a professional uses a software program like CorelDRAW or AutoCAD to develop a template based on the customer’s needs.

When the maker is comfortable with the model, a piece of metal or other material is placed on the cutting board.

The CNC machine performs the object after receiving a signal from the computer. The operator can process several goods with a prototype that meets all specifications.

CNC Cutting’s Benefits

  • CNC machinery, unlike manual labour, can work continuously for an extended period.
  • They can produce jobs with greater precision and accuracy than manual machines.
  • The number of people needed to run a computer is reduced.
  • CNCs, unlike manual lathes/milling machines, etc., can be operated by people with less skill/training.
  • The software can be quickly and easily reprogrammed to produce various parts, enabling operations to keep up with changing customer demands.
  • They are, unlike other computers, completely safe to use.
  • When it comes to using the machines, versatility is key.

Application Areas of CNC Cutting

  • Making signs
  • Carpentry, cabinetry, and woodworking are all forms of carpentry.
  • Merchandisers
  • Plastic fabrication
  • Engineering
  • Metal Fabrication
  • Stage architecture and theatre
  • constructing a boat
  • Shopfitters

Laser Cutting

Laser cutters, like CNC routers, are directed by a computer system. Lasers slice through the material with heat rather than friction, as routers do. The laser is used to cut out designs with unprecedented accuracy, allowing for more control over angles and complex patterns.

A high-energy light beam is used in laser cutting to burning through the metal material. A motion control device is used to cut material with a laser.

The concentrated laser beam is then guided at the road, which melts, burns, or vaporizes away, leaving a smooth edge and perfect shape with high-quality finishing.

Lasers are often used in sensitive manufacturing processes that include the cutting of silicon, making this technique a valuable tool in the development of high-tech components like microelectronic parts, semiconductors, and solar panels.

Laser Cutting’s Benefits

  • Precision Cuts with High Accuracy
  • Cutting sheet metal with laser cutting machines uses less energy.
  • The efficiency of laser cutting machines is high, and the necessary design replicas are exact replicas of each other.
  • May handle jobs of varying degrees of complexity
  • Laser cutting is a flexible technology that can be used to cut or burn a variety of structures from basic to complex.
  • Faster than conventional mechanical cutting methods, with higher sheet utilization and less waste.

Application Areas of Laser Cutting

  • Signs making
  • Mining firms
  • Engineers
  • Manufacturers of electronic devices
  • Jewellery
  • Merchandisers

Difference factors between CNC Routing and Laser Cutting

1. The quality of the engraving

Since the diameter of the laser machine’s light source is very small, and the CNC router itself has a certain range, the laser engraving machine has higher engraving accuracy than the CNC router machine, which includes the tool’s accuracy specifications in addition to the machine’s efficiency.

2. Tools for engraving

Laser engraving is difficult to achieve deep engraving on metal surfaces, and it is only possible to engrave the coating on the metal surface while choosing engraving materials. The CNC router computer can engrave to a specific depth and even cut.

3. The machine’s processing system

The laser machine is for non-contact material processing, and there is no need to repair the workpiece for flat engraving; however, the CNC engraving machine uses a tool for contact engraving, so the workpiece must be repaired.

The current CNC router machine is primarily based on a vacuum table, which relies on gas suction to keep the material stable on the table.

4. The machine’s lifetime

The laser machine’s laser tube is a consumable item. The life of any laser tube, regardless of brand, is restricted, and it must be replaced regularly depending on the machine’s use.

The CNC engraving machine does not have a cap to how long it can be used, but tool wear can occur. When the tool is severely worn, it needs to be reinstated.

5. The environmental effects of various manufacturing methods

Toxic gas may be generated during the engraving process because the laser machine relies on heat to process the material through the laser beam. To purify the gas, an exhaust device or an air purification system must be installed; the CNC router machine will not pollute the air, but wood chips or waste residues will be produced during the engraving process.

After the engraving is finished, the processing table and the surrounding area must be cleaned as soon as possible. It is also possible to mount a vacuum cleaner on the CNC router machine to gather debris and garbage into a dust bag in real-time while the material is being engraved, thus reducing emissions.

6. More advanced

When it comes to engraving images, the laser system has more advantages. It can directly engrave JPG images on the plate, which the CNC router machine is unable to do.

7. Savings

One of the most significant advantages of CNC cutting is its low cost, particularly when compared to laser cutting. CNC machining has been common in a variety of industries for a long time because of its low cost.

While the expense of a laser cutter makes it a more expensive choice, the power consumption also leads to it being more expensive than CNC.

Final Thoughts

Both of these types of equipment are unquestionably beneficial to your production facility. Lasers seem to be the most common, but it all depends on your particular requirements. Laser engravers are more expensive, but they come with more bells and whistles.

A CNC router, unlike a laser, does not engrave innovative and precise designs, but it does provide you with simpler designs at a lower cost. This is what you would expect from a computer like this.

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