What materials can a CNC router cut ?

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What materials can a CNC router cut ?

cnc router materials

In this article, we guide you to the commonly used material for CNC router machines. We will also make it sense to use appropriate material for a specific use. There are many types of material used for CNC Routers. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Here the different types of ends may be referred to as ends, bits, end mills, cutters, or drills.


There are many kinds of wood available to work with a CNC router. Every kind of wood has different properties which can never be underestimated. The wood structure can be hard, stiff, soft, and tough. The wood is blended with natural polymers cellulose and lignin along with some content of spa. So keep in mind the properties of wood will change according to the moisture content of the wood. The moisture wood property is, it can be softer than other wood and more flexible, denser, and viscous.

For CNC router cutting, it is important to store wood in a dry environment for the perfect cut. Wood over the spectrum property is more useful for CNC router machines.

Wood has low hardness property as compared to regular steel router ends. So it will take a short portion of the machine.

As we all know, wood also has the property of low barrier, so the expelled wood can easily vacuum from the work area and keep the end smooth.


Plastics materials can be machined but keep in mind that not all plastics materials can be machined due to their content. The plastic material that can be machined are given below:


Polymer foam is a type of plastic material that can be machined. It is used to design many complex and custom packaging, aesthetics, test geometry, or low-risk practice. The most noticeable feature of this foam is it comes with low shear strength that allows you to cut easily and quickly. But keep in mind if the strength of tensile is below the strength of shear lower, the pieces of foams will be damaged on the CNC Router. So, we recommend for the higher risk material foam, use the High RPM with aggressive channels.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastic is a type of plastic material with the property of low-density polyethylene. The material is used to develop “curls” when it is cut. The material is soft and flexible in structure. Soft plastic has the property of lower melting, or sometimes it loses the shape on cuts in hot. We can improve the performance of this material by utilizing a cool ambient temperature, fans, and shallow cuts.

Hard Plastics

The hard plastic is a type of plastic material with the property of poly methyl-methacrylate. The material is used to develop short chips with broken ends when it is cut. The material is hard and stiffer in structure. By having this property, it may cut with less aggressively channeled ends. So, It will be easier to remove the smaller particles. But you should prepare that the overheating also de-shaped the work piece.  We can improve the performance of this material by utilizing a cool ambient temperature, fans, and shallow cuts.


Metal is the most utilized material of the CNC router. Aluminum is the only metal type that should be cut with a CNC router easily. There are some high-Si alloys of Al that are very hard, and they should only be used in mills for accurate cuts.  The material is used to develop long curls when cut with regular end mills. Sometimes it may result in jamming if a large amount of material is inserted at once. We recommend that aluminum should be cut with force. For this purpose, a special chip-breaker end should be utilized.

Chip-breaker end with the property of abrasive ends and many-fluted cutting ends produce a “diamond” rhombohedral surface pattern. This pattern halts a single cutting surface from staying in contact with a large amount of material while cutting. After that, breaking material is expelled into many discrete chips.

Note: hard and scattering cooling of metal is sensitive to the ambient temperature.

For this, you need to change the router settings if the temperature of your workspace is up to the standard. You may also utilize a cool ambient temperature, fans, and shallow cuts.

In some rare cases, metals other than aluminum can be routed.

  1. Some materials are soft enough that they should be routed with more care. We recommend choosing hard ends to rout them.
  2. Pure materials like gold, copper, silver can be machined.
  3. Some thick material can be rout with aggressive cutting ends with few fluttes kike malleable.

Stone and Ceramic

Stone and Ceramic is hard and very stiff material with the property of low toughness like sedimentary stone, and common ceramics which are granite, sandstone, tiles are able to route with hard abrasive ends.

These ends are made up of metal with diamond particles.

If the structure of the stone comes in very low toughness tile like shallow and chip breaker end made of HSS etc. Machines use these materials when relife detailing is required. But keep in mind due to the low thermal conductivity of the material, producing so much heat on the router end is the biggest problem. You need to resolve this issue by applying water cooling directly.

Composite Laminates and Plywood

Composite Laminates and Plywood comes in the structure of carbon fiber layup, some fiberglass, and plywood. There are many failures to rout this material. You need to be aware of this. The material can be tested at any edge of the material by attempting to pry when it’s open. You need to observe the behavior of the crack.

  • Cracks can be extended to the material surface by the shortest path.
  • Cracks can be extended into the smooth sheet causing failure by daily motion.

Material which is failed by delaminating can cure it by using compression ends. This end combines a downward and upward spiral cutting edge.

The above-mentioned materials can be utilized to develop many complex designs according to the project you have chosen for routing. You must consider every material advantage and disadvantage first before working to keep yourself safe from any kind of risk.

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