Desktop CNC Routing and Milling Machines

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Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman:

"more established than 3D printers are desktop-sized numerically controlled (CNC) routing and milling machines. These machines use a physical blade to cut and carve precise designs into a broad range of materials. Under the guidance of an electronic design blueprint, a rotating mill bit, sometimes called a cutter, is spun along by a motor called a router or spindle. As the electronic blueprint guides the cutter along x, y and z coordinates, the cutting tool makes multiple passes over the material to create perfectly carved engravings or shapes." (


"CNC routers and milling machines work with a wide variety of materials, from wax to wood to metal to porcelain. CNC routers and milling machines are capable of manufacturing a broad range of everyday objects and parts, ranging from plastic name plates and printed circuit boards, to complex 3D objects such as airplane parts and kitchen utensils." (


Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman:

  • "CNC routers and milling

machines work with a wide variety of materials

  • The upside of desktop

routers and milling machines is that they are precise, faster than 3D printers, and work with a larger variety of materials.

  • Since computer-guided CNC routers and

milling machines have been in existence in industry for decades, they enjoy a large variety of available tooling, and a broad and experienced user base.

  • Due to their

speed and precision, CNC routers and milling machines, even small ones, are ideal for creating large batches of items. " (


"However, CNC machines are significantly less versatile than 3D printers in the range of shapes they can create." (

More Information

  1. Personal Manufacturing ; Desktop Manufacturing
  2. Desktop 3D Printers; 3D Printing
  3. Desktop Laser Cutters and Engravers