Computer Numerical Control is the process of cuttingmaterial with a computerised milling or router machines.CNC technology has been around for quite a numberyears making CNC machining a very versatile andeffective way of proﬁling sheet material into a design ormilling thicker material to create 3D objects and reliefs.
CNC Machines are much better at accommodatinglarger scale work and can be a better practical solution for1:1 detailing of full-scale work or prototypes. Certain thingauge metals, plywood, MDF softwoods and hardwoodcan be machined of a CNC routers machine even somepolystyrene based foam. CNC ﬁle types are generally DXFand DWG, 3DS and Artcam ﬁle formats.
– this is a similar process to CNC machining as it uses the same technology but instead ofusing a cutter to proﬁle the materials it uses a laser to cuta design from sheet materials.Laser machines come in quite a large variety of bedand power output sizes. The larger the power output thethicker the material it will cut through.
A 60 watt laser forinstance will cut very thin 0.03mm paper all the way upto 6mm plywood and 12mm acrylic. Laser machines cancut a whole range of materials from acrylics, plywood,MDF, card, paper, to even fabrics and rubber. Engravingcan also be done on much more resistive materials likeceramics, slate, glass and some metals.A number of considerations need to be looked atbefore you can use a CAD drawing with a laser machine.Like the CNC machine, greater control can be given overto the designer and maker in terms of a large variety ofeffects and ﬁnishes that can be achieved when using thelaser cutter software.
Again, care must be taken whenediting drawing before using a laser machine, a commonissue is having duplicate lines and layers in a drawing thatcan confuse the machine when you would need to assign adesired cutting affects to a drawing.All laser machines use a small number of differentcoloured layers to assign cutter affects to a design. Thescale of the drawing would need looking at to so that itwould ﬁt on the machines bed size properly. Engravingand cutting can be achieved quickly and effortlessly andthis has undoubtedly revolutionised the modelmakingexperience not just in industry but in education generally.Laser cutter ﬁle types are generally DXF, DWG, CorelDraw,and Illustrator alongside generic laser cutter software.