There are a large number of milling machines with numerical control (CNC) capabilities. Today we are going to talk about horizontal milling machines for non-metals (wood, plywood, composites, etc.) and soft metals.

What is a CNC wood router?

cnc router milling mdf

Why are all machines called “a milling”? This is due to the fact that the material is machined with a mill – a cutting tool.

A horizontal milling machine has a horizontal flat table and a spindle. The material is placed on the table, and then the spindle makes movements in three axes: X, Y and Z. Thanks to the movement of the spindle, the main tool in which the cutter is placed moves.

To understand the construction of a horizontal CNC router machine we suggest to divide its components into five categories.

Construction 

The structure includes the frame of the machine (frame) and the portal of the machine. The quality of the frame determines the service life of the machine.

Each frame on WATTSAN CNC routers is subjected to a long heat treatment (annealing) at about 600 degrees Celsius. Thus, micro stress is removed from the frame. The technology guarantees a long tool life.

The second part of the construct is the portal. All portals have internal stiffening ribs to withstand high loads. Additional stiffening ribs made of thick cast iron are inside the portal and have excessive rigidity. The same portal can be used in combination with one spindle, with two or with four. 

When designing WATTSAN CNC routers (especially the models intended for processing wood), we assume that the portal will have to work with four spindles. However, as a rule, it works with one. Thus, the portal has a phenomenal safety margin, which significantly extends the service life of the machine. 

Kinematics

kinematic cnc router

Kinematics includes all parts of the machine involved in its movement. These are:

  • Guide rails;
  • Helical racks;
  • Gear-wheels;
  • Planetary gearboxes;
  • Steppers.

Stepper motors allow the machine to move along the axes X, Y, and Z.

Machine tooling

milling cutter for cnc router
milling cutters

The main tool of the milling machine is the spindle. Depending on its power, it has a particular collet into which the cutter is mounted.

The collet is a part of the spindle that changes optionally, depending on what the cutter will be used for.

CNC

Numerical control can be compared to the brain of a milling machine. The CNC executes the commands coming from the controller and transfers them into progressive and rotary movements of the tool. 

Working area of the machine

milling wood on cnc router

The working field is in the X-axis and Y-axis coordinate system.

The spindle arrives at the coordinates set by the control system. Coming to a given point, it has a certain rotation and feed rate. The operator sets these parameters using tool sensors or manually.

Types of Wattsan horizontal CNC routers

Before getting acquainted with WATTSAN models, let’s define the types of horizontal CNC routers represented by our company.

  • Single-spindle machines with different power and working area size. The basic range of machines presented on the website.
  • CNC machines with two or more spindles. In these models, the spindles can work both independently of each other and in parallel.
  • CNC routers with an automatic tool change system. They perform the work with the first cutter, then come to the “home” and change the tool to the one that is set next in the program. The algorithm continues until the work is completed.
  • Milling machines with a “non-return” automatic tool change system. In these models, the cutters are replaced without returning to the “house,” since they are equipped with four spindles. The machine significantly saves work time on the product.

The choice of machine type is usually based on the individual needs of the customer. 

How to select a CNC router?

cnc wood router wattsan

The choice of CNC router depends on what kind of product should be obtained as a result of work. It is recommended to take into account some nuances:

  • Type of the processed material (wood, plywood, foam, composites, soft metals, etc);
  • Workpiece size;
  • The size of the processed blank.

Once you have determined this, you should pay attention to the following criteria for selecting a CNC milling machine.

Working area size

cnc milling wood machine

On all CNC routers, as the working area size increases, so does the spindle power. This relationship is directly proportional.

Popular machine working area sizes:

  • 2000 by 3000 mm. Is used for cutting full sized sheets of material.
  • 1300 by 2500 mm and 1600 by 1600 mm. Most materials, especially plastics, are made in these sizes.

After you have decided on the working area needed, you should decide on the power.

Power

In the WATSSAN A1 series machines, it is possible to upgrade the power by one step. For example, the spindle power can be increased from 3.5 kW to 4.5 kW. In the WATSSAN M1, due to the more powerful portal, frame, and side posts, it is possible to upgrade by two steps.

When selecting the power of the CNC router, you should pay attention to the type of material to be processed.  For example, a high spindle power is not necessary for engraving or minimal material cutting. A more powerful spindle will be required for a lot of deep processing or cutting, mainly for woodworking.

Too much spindle power can cause the material to heat up and change its color. This is especially noticeable with plastic and soft wood. In these cases, it is recommended to limit the speed and feed rate.

Service and support

support of cnc machine

When selecting a milling machine, note the following points:

  • Manufacturer support during warranty and post-warranty period; 
  • Quality of machine constructive;
  • Types of components available for service worldwide. 

We use the most reliable and globally available components when selecting equipment. 

Our priority is to avoid machine downtime.

That is why we try to promptly correct comments that our customers make. In addition, we select our accessories in such a way that they are distributed all over the world.

Quality control 

Every company that has been in the milling machine market for a long time has several stages of quality control:

  • At the arrival of components;
  • During the manufacturing of the machine tools;
  • In the process of preparing the machine for shipment. 

Our dealers also have their own internal quality control: at the arrival of the machine to the warehouse and on shipment of the machine.

Quality control not only helps you avoid chance mistakes, but also makes it much easier for an engineer to start up the machine.

Top of Wattsan CNC routers

WATTSAN 0609

0609
mini
More

Desktop milling machine with the working area of 600 by 900 mm. Spindle power is 1,5 kW.

Common in the hobby market (especially when working with wood and thick plywood), but can also be used in professional production.

The machine is equipped with a cast-iron frame and cast-iron portal, which ensures the highest rigidity and reliability of the CNC router even when working with soft metals at high speed round the clock. For cutting metal we recommend fiber metal cutters.

Due to its small size, it is mobile and can be mounted on any structure.

The milling machine is equipped with a water-cooled spindle, so it comes with a water pump. On request, the customer can abandon it and order chillers in order to have a closed water circuit. This configuration allows for less frequent changes of distilled water mixed with antifreeze.

Advantages:

  • Low cost;
  • Compact size;
  • Excess reliability.

These are the reasons why the model is so popular with our customers. More than a hundred milling machines are shipped around the world every month.

WATTSAN М1 1616

1616
M1
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This machine is also characterized by its small size – 1600 by 1600 mm. The power of the spindle is 3.2 kW with the possibility of upgrading to 4.5 or 5.5 kW. The customer can also choose the cooling principle – water or air.

Our company developed this model in 2000 in order to solve the problem of solid plywood processing. Thanks to the square working area, the machine has excessive stability and rigidity. This allows the machine to be both an engraving and cutting.

Advantages:

  • Compact square dimensions;
  • Planetary gears;
  • High vibration resistance.

WATTSAN M1 1616 is one of the world’s most popular machines manufactured by our company.

WATTSAN А1 1325

1325
A1
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The basic version of the milling comes with belt gears and a water-cooled 3.2 kW spindle.

This machine is popular due to its universal size (1300 by 2500 mm) and is used to process plastic. Also on this CNC router, pre-cut sheets of plywood, facades or doors are often machined.

Advantages:

  • Universal size;
  • Low cost;
  • Additional equipment.

WATTSAN M1 1325

1325
M1
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This model is not as popular as the A1 1325 due to its higher cost. The power of the spindle is 4.5 kW. The cooling can be water or air.

Like other models of the M series, the CNC router can be equipped with an automatic tool change system (from 4 to 12 tools). This function saves a lot of time for tool changing and is indispensable for customers who work 24/7.

The M1 1325 is also popular because of its size. The reason is that most of the world’s materials are available in 1300 by 2500 mm (4 by 8 feet).

Advantages:

  • High spindle power;
  • Increased rigidity;
  • Planetary gearboxes, reinforced side posts and frame (8 mm).

This machine often performs material processing that requires high speed and high rigidity. Often our customers purchase several of these machines at the same time.

WATTSAN M1 2030

2030
M1
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The model has a working area of 2000 by 3000 mm. As standard, the spindle has a power of 5.5 kW.

The CNC router can be equipped with a vacuum table. This equipment is recommended and mainly used for the processing of plexiglas. This is convenient because it is possible to put a sheet of material in full size and begin to process it without pre-cutting. 

Advantages:

  • High spindle power;
  • Reinforced bed;
  • Planetary gearbox;
  • High performance.

WATTSAN A1 6090

6090
A1
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cnc wood router floor type wattsan

Stand CNC router with a working area of 600 by 900 mm. Spindle power is 1.5 kW as standard, upgradeable to 2.2 kW.

The A1 6090 is mainly used by customers in the hobby market, e.g. for the production of souvenirs from soft materials. The model is equipped with belt gearboxes of increased reliability. But, in case of a breakdown, the operator can easily replace them himself.

Advantages:

  • Compact size;
  • Low cost;
  • Excess reliability.

Machine operating principle

Let us focus on the options of a CNC router machine to understand how it works.

Vacuum table

vacuum table

There are two types of attaching material to the working area:

  1. Using a clamp. The material is attached to the working area with clamps and then the operation begins. This type of clamping is not always suitable for small cuts, because the material itself can vibrate during the work. This leads to breakage of parts or complete breakage of the tool.
  2. Vacuum table. Alternative option. The vacuum table allows you to securely fix the material on the working area by turning several levers.

A vacuum table can be installed on all Wattsan CNC routers with working area of 1300 by 1300 mm and more.

Tool sensor

The search for the starting point in the Z-axis can be done manually or automatically.

In the first case, the operator lowers the spindle until it touches the material and then sets the starting point.

In the automatic search, the tool sensor does the job. It is placed on the material, and then the cutter and tool touch the sensor itself. This is how the system knows where to start working. 

DSP controller

settings for cnc router

WATTSAN milling machines are supplied in two configurations:

  • NcStudio. Requires a computer with a system unit. 
  • DSP. This is a standalone device capable of reading most file formats.

The DSP controller functions as follows. A USB flash drive is placed in the controller. The files stored on the flash drive are transferred to the DSP memory, after which the controller performs all necessary operations.

Functions of the DSP controller:

  • Moving the portal and head along the XYZ axes to find the starting point;
  • RPM and feed Control;
  • Providing the ability to switch between unfinished layouts.

Controller actions are stored in memory. This allows you to continue interrupted work even after a power outage.  

Rotary device

rotary device for cnc router

An indispensable option for customers working with round objects.

When working with a rotary device, the axis is turned off, and the machine has the ability to process circular products.

Most often, the rotator is used by our customers in the WATTSAN 1313, 1325 and 1325 RD models for the manufacture of balusters. Models are in high demand among ladder manufacturers.

Coolant system

cooling for cnc milling router

It includes the supply of cooling mixture instead of milling. It is used for the treatment of soft metals and stone.

Coolant system includes a special bath with a filtration system. Fluid fed to the material drains into the bath. Then the filtration system is started, and the mixture is returned to work.

The coolant system is needed to cool the tool (cutter).

Aspiration system

aspiration for wood router

Aspiration systems have a wide range of models and are divided into two types: single-bag and double-bag.

The aspiration system performs two functions:

  1. Collection of by-products (chips, dust, etc.).
  2. Air filtration.

Modern aspiration systems have an increased ability to filter air. This avoids allergic reactions when working with the material.

What can be milled with a CNC router?

wood milled dettail

WATTSAN CNC milling machines are designed to work with non-metals and soft metals. The type of material to be milled depends on the type of spindle used.

Our machines use powerful high-speed spindles. This allows you to work with a wide range of materials with different textures. It can be:

  • wood;
  • plastic;
  • brass;
  • copper;
  • aluminum;
  • composite materials;
  • plywood;
  • plexiglas;
  • foam and other materials.

Sometimes our customers need to mill something unusual and even exotic. In this case, you can send a technical task to our e-mail info@wattsan.com. In response, all customers receive a comprehensive answer in the format of a video demonstration on an identical or similar material.

Conclusions

We have tried to describe all the criteria for selecting a CNC router in as much detail as possible.

In case you have any questions, you can always contact our managers and get a video demonstration of the work on your material with detailed recommendations: 

  • on additional equipment;
  • on the types of processing;
  • On the nuances of working with different materials. 

WATTSAN machines are designed to avoid downtime in production. This is due not only to the highest reliability of the components used, but also to support.

Each customer and owner of our machines has a lifetime service from our worldwide service team, even if they are re-purchased.

FAQ

What is a CNC router?

A CNC milling machine is a tool that processes material with numerical control by rotating the spindle.

In the process of machining, either engraving or cutting of the material is obtained.

Where is CNC milling used? 

CNC milling is used everywhere from souvenir production to aircraft construction. Milling machines often produce a workpiece that later goes into additional machining. Very often the machine is used for prototyping.

The CNC router can be a part of production as well as the basis of production. Therefore, the main indicator of the quality of a machine tool is high reliability.

How much does the CNC milling cost?

The price depends on:

  • Working area size;
  • Spindle power;
  • Machine tool accuracy;
  • Additional equipment.

The price can start at $2,000 to $3,000 and up.

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