How to Use a CNC Router Machine

CNC router machine is a fully automatic power tool that relies on the computer to drive and control the movement of the tool on the spindle to realize the cutting plan. For a novice, it’s necessary to understand the structure of the machine and get basic knowledge of CNC software. In addition, it’s awesome if you can use CAD/CAM software to design and make CNC files. Today, we’ll teach you how to use a CNC router machine from the aspects of machine assembly and debugging, software installation and setting, machine operation method, care and maintenance, and router bits selection and use. Whether you are a beginner or a CNC operator, after reading this article, you will become an expert in CNC machining.

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How to Assemble a CNC Router Machine?

After receiving your machine, please open the packing box, take out the kits, and handle it with care. Check carefully for damage to the machine. Review the packing list and check whether all the parts and accessories are available.

According to the assembly diagram provided by the manufacturer or dealer, please assemble and connect the CNC router parts and accessories, and use the screws in the tool box to lock them according to the size of the corresponding holes.


CNC Router Diagram

When assembling the stepper motor, be sure to first connect the coupling on the stepper motor to the lead screw, lock the four screws that fix the motor, and then gently rotate the hand wheel to make a stop in the coupling align the screw with the flat position of the screw head, and then lock it. Turn the black hand wheel on the stepping motor by hand, and the three axes can move smoothly in forward and reverse directions, which is normal operation. Check whether there is a gap between the two end faces of the coupling or whether the stop screws on the coupling are tightened.

Please do not turn on the power supply of the control box, and connect the machine plug to the control box to ensure good contact. It is recommended that qualified users ground the CNC router machine, connect one end of the data cable to the interface of the control box, and connect the other end to the computer.

The pump must be completely submerged in clean tap water. Otherwise, the water pump will be damaged, and there should be no metal residues in the water. Because the water pump is magnetic, too much metal will affect the quality of the pump.

After completing the assembly of all the above mechanical parts and keeping the wiring in good condition, the next step is to install the software.

How to Install CNC Router Software?

Hardware Configuration

  1. It’s suitable for any PC compatible computer such as notebook, desktop and tablet with USB interface.

2. Operating environment: Windows XP or Windows 7/8/10

Compatible Software

1. It’s compatible with a variety of CAD/CAM design software.

2. Instruction format: G code (tap, nc, ncc, text).


Mach3 Software

Software Installation

Step 1. Put the attached CD into the CD-ROM drive (or U disk), find the Mach3 installation package, unzip it to the computer hard disk, find the “Installation read file”, and follow the steps inside to install the Mach3 software.

Note: Do not open the software after installation, you must restart your computer immediately. (If you open the software without restarting the computer first, you will need to completely uninstall the software and then reinstall it).

Step 2. After restarting the computer, double-click the “Mach3 Mill” icon to enter the software to start setting. (Other icons are not needed and can be deleted from the desktop).

Step 3. Connect one end of the USB cable to the USB port at the rear of the control box, and the other end to the USB port of the computer. This product adopts a driver-free design, and the Windows system can automatically detect the “JFT Montion Controller” without requiring the user to install additional device drivers. If the user’s operating system is Windows 7 or a later computer operating system, a driver installation prompt will appear in the lower right corner of the computer desktop. At this time, please follow the prompt “Click here to view the status” and click to view it with the mouse. Click to select “Skip getting driver software from Windows Update” to skip the update. If the user’s Windows computer operating system is XP version, plug and play, no prompt information.

The first connection, the system detection work takes about 10 seconds.

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Next, launch the Mach3 software for the first time. When the Mach3 software starts, a control device selection interface will pop up. Please select “JFT-Motion-Controller-V2.0”, and check “Don’t write about this problem again”, so that “JFT Motion Controller” will be automatically selected as the motion control device when the Mach3 software is launched next time.

At this point, the Mach3 control system is installed.

How to Use CNC Router Software?


Mach3 CNC Controller

Step 1. Metric and inch settings: There is a huge difference between millimeters and inches. If the setting is incorrect and the limit is not set, it will cause over travel and damage the equipment. After setting, be sure to exit the software and then re-enter.

Step 2. Setting of port pins: Please refer to the setting diagram for setting carefully. Any wrong number or option may cause the CNC machine to not operate normally. Enter “Settings”, then click “Port Pins”, we will be able to see multiple paging items, we will only use a part of them, set the parallel port according to the software manual, the default address for the PC with its own parallel port is fine , if it is a parallel port card installed by yourself, you need to check its corresponding address in the system and fill in it correctly. Set the motor output page below, and fill in the numbers correctly according to the schematic diagram.

Step 3. The CNC machine with the electric control box is equipped with limit and emergency stop switches, and the correct settings can make them work normally.

Step 4. Setting of output signal.

Step 5. We don’t need the encoder and milling machine options. For machines that can automatically control the spindle, set “Spindle Settings”

Step 6. Motor parameter setting: select “Settings”, and then click “Motor Debugging” to enter the motor parameter setting page.

Things to consider: The computer converts the displacement into the corresponding pulse number and sends it to the CNC machine controller through the parallel port. The controller amplifies the pulse and drives the stepping motor to rotate forward or reverse by a certain angle through the corresponding circuit to drive the lead screw to rotate. Precise displacement. According to the principle, we can know that the correct operation result can only be obtained by setting the motor parameters correctly.

Step 7. For machines with a rotary 4th axis (A axis), the A axis should also be set.

Step 8. Automatic tool setting function setting: select “Operation”, click “Edit Button Script”, at this time the tool setting button in the tool setting function area of the main interface flashes, click this button to pop up the code editing area, delete the original code, and put it in the CD-ROM. The code in the tool setting code editing text under the Mach3 directory is admitted, saved and exited.

With the above settings, the machine is already running, but testing and debugging must be carried out before running.

How to Test a CNC Router Machine?

Manual Testing

Step 1. After the above items are set correctly, make sure that the plug and parallel port are well connected.

Before the power is turned on, first twist the hand wheels of the three stepper motors on the machine by hand, you will feel that the screwing is easier and smoother when the power is not turned on. Then turn on the POWER switch on the electric control box. At this time, the three stepper motors should be energized and self-locked. Then turn the hand wheel of the stepper motor by hand. It should feel a little tighter than before it was not energized. Lock”. (If there is no self-locking, check whether the stepping cable is plugged in well and whether the power is turned on.) Turn on the power switch (I is the ON state), the power indicator light is on, and turn the emergency stop switch to the right (clockwise) to make it pop open. Press the emergency reset button in the MACH3 software so that it no longer flashes.

Note: If the emergency reset does not stop (flickering continuously) after pressing the emergency reset, please check whether the 6 limit switches on the three axes of the rack are open. open, and then return to the MACH3 software interface on the computer.

Step 2. Use the shortcut keys of the computer keyboard to move each axis.

Note: Before running, please make sure that the “point/move switch” in Mach3 keeps the green light on.

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Press the Tab key of the keyboard to call up the manual control panel of Mach3, as shown in the lower right figure; click the X, Y, Z buttons respectively to see if the three axes of the CNC machine are moving.

Step 3. In Mach3, set the maximum speed according to the rated power of the main motor, then click “Spindle Speed” as shown in the figure below, enter a speed, and then click “Spindle Forward F5”, the spindle starts to run. Pull the green vertical bar on Mach3 to slide up and down to adjust the speed of the spindle.

Automated Software Testing

Step 1. Make sure that the limit switches are all working, and the switch is always on in green.

Step 2. In the Mach3 Mill software, click “Return to Machine Origin” (the machine origin is in the upper left corner of the machine), and the corresponding X, Y, Z, A red vertical bars will turn green.

Step 3. Click the “Load G Code” button, as shown on the right, load the “test program” corresponding to the machine model in the CD and import it, and then click “Cycle Start”, the machine tool can move normally, and there is no other abnormal noise, and the test is qualified. Otherwise check wiring and software.

Note: Please return to the origin of the machine every time you turn it on.

How to Operate a CNC Router Machine?

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CNC Operator

Step 1. Clamping Material.

As shown in the figure below, fix the prepared material to be cut on the CNC router table with a pressing plate.

Note: the “equal height screw” should be adjusted to the thickness of the material, and the pressing screw should not be tightened too much. Use force so as not to deform the T-slot of the worktable. When clamping the material, it is necessary to consider the size of the cutting size and leave enough room to allow the size of the chuck of the spindle motor to prevent the spindle tool from hitting the pressure plate during cutting.

Step 2. Tool Setting.

For example, when generating a tool path, set the material center point (the position of the material diagonal) as the origin, then use this as the origin during tool setting, move the tool to the center point of the material, and clear the X and Y axes. Move the Z-axis until the Z-axis just touches the material, and reset the Z-axis. The current point is the origin.

Note: If you want more convenient and accurate tool setting, you can choose Z-axis tool setting block or Mach3 wireless hand wheel.


Mach3 Tool Setting

How to set the tool on the Z axis?

  1. First measure the exact thickness of the tool setting block with a vernier caliper. This thickness value will directly affect the accuracy of the tool setting. Enter the obtained value into the character box (such as 20) and then press the Enter key to save the value.
  1. Put the tool setting block on the material to be cut, and then manually adjust the Z axis to the appropriate position. When the tool setting is triggered, the Z axis will automatically rise by 5mm. Therefore, after adjusting the Z-axis position, it is necessary to ensure that the Z-axis has more than 10mm of travel to rise. When performing the tool setting task, the Z-axis automatically descends only 30mm. Therefore, during manual adjustment, the distance between the Z-axis tool tip and the surface of the tool setting block should not exceed 30mm, otherwise the tool tip will stop without touching the tool setting block. . Once adjusted, clamp the handle with the clip on the red cable.
  1. Turn on the power switch of the control box, click the “Z tool setting” button in Mach3, the Z axis will slowly descend, when the tool tip touches the surface of the tool setting block, it will stop immediately, and then automatically move up 5mm.

4. Take the setting block and complete the setting. Note that at this time, the coordinate data of the Z axis should not be cleared, but must be retained. Then you can import the tool path and start carving. (You can import the tool path file first and then calibrate the tool, or you can first calibrate the tool and then import the tool path file).

Step 3. Import the G code

In the Mach3 software, click “Load G-code” to import the G code.

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Step 4. Start Working.

Click the “Cycle Start” button in Mach3, at this time, the three axes of the CNC router machine are linked to start working.

Next, let’s take a look at how to automatically turn on and off the spindle motor synchronously during cutting. For an operator who doesn’t know programming and doesn’t know G-code, this is almost impossible. But we just want to realize such a function, and it is even more unrealistic to systematically learn those professional knowledge. Here to teach the user a shortcut, we only need to add the command of spindle control to the prepared G-code. Because we only need this command code.

The five most common used G codes list:

M03 – Spindle rotates forward.

M05 – Spindle stall.

F500 – Feeds/min.

S10000 – Spindle speed 10000RPM.

M30 – Return to the program header.

How to use and update the G codes?

Add a line above the first line of your G-code: M03S15000.

Add a line after the second line of your G-code: F1000.

Add a line below the last line of your G-code: M05M30.

How to Care and Maintain a CNC Router Machine?

  1. After each cut, turn off the spindle and power switch first, and then clean up the debris generated by cutting in time.
  1. Lubricate the guide rails, bearings and screw rods of the machine once a month; wipe the guide rails with a clean cotton cloth dipped in high-speed white oil (sewing machine oil), apply some snow oil (a high-grade white grease) on the screw rods, and then After starting and running back and forth a few times, repeat the lubrication again. Note that butter should never be used.
  1. Check the cables in the towline at least once a month. If any cables are found to be tight, they should be loosened in time to ensure that each wire is loose in the towline. When working, these cables frequently do repeated bending actions. If the cables are taut, it is easy to cause the internal copper wire to break and cause poor contact, thus making the stepper motor uncontrollable.
  1. Check the screws all over the place every month, and tighten them in time if they are found to be loose.

5. If the machine is not used for a long time, it should be thoroughly oiled and maintained, and then wrapped in plastic film and stored in a dry place.

How to Choose and Use CNC Router Bits & Tools?


CNC Router Bits & Tools

  1. For acrylic cutting, it is recommended to use a single-edged spiral milling cutter, which is characterized by smokeless and tasteless processing, high speed, high efficiency, no sticky chips, extremely fine tool lines, and smooth surface. If it is thin acrylic sheets, double-edged milling cutters or cylindrical cutters can also be used.
  1. For aluminum sheet cutting, it is recommended to use a single-edged special aluminum milling cutter. No sticking to the knife during processing, high speed and high efficiency. Double-edged metal milling cutters can also be used if the cutting surface requirements are not high. 
  1. For precision small relief carving on non-metallic materials, it is recommended to use a round-bottomed router bit.
  1. For cork, MDF, virgin wood, PVC, acrylic large-scale deep relief carving, it is recommended to use a single-edged or double-edged helical ball end mill.
  1. For metal milling, use metal-specific tungsten steel-coated single-edged mills or double-edged mills, and special flat-bottomed tools.

6. MDF, solid wood, multi-layer board and plywood are recommended to use straight groove milling cutters, or double-edged large chip removal cutters.

7. Tungsten steel milling cutter should be used for metal mold making, and the surface is plated with purple black and hardened titanium.

8. Diamond router bits should be used for jade or stone carving.

9. Double-edged metal sharp tools can be used for graphic milling on the surface of copper and hard aluminum alloys.

Things To Consider

A CNC router machine is controlled by computer numerical controlled software, and it needs the right software settings to run well. If the settings are not fully confirmed to be correct, installing a router bit to test the machine may cause danger or permanently damage the machine. Please don’t turn on the power of the control box during the software installation and setting process to avoid damage caused by malfunction. Do not plug and unplug all the interfaces behind the control box when the power supply of the electric control box is turned on at any time, otherwise any accident caused shall be borne by the operator.

Scoopearth Team
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