Whether used for industrial or personal needs, a CNC Router is a key piece of equipment when it comes to pattern and mould making. Originally developed in the 1950s, this machine has continued to evolve with the times and current technology. These days, it forms a significant role in our own processes and those of mass-producers all across the world. But what is a CNC router? And how does it work? This blog will look at both of these points today.

What is a CNC router?

CNC stands for computer numerical control. It is a computer-controlled machine that works in a similar way to a handheld router in its functions. CNC routers are used to cut specific patterns and shapes into a variety of materials. These can include everything from wood, composites and foams through to aluminium, steel, plastics and even glass. They are highly accurate and can produce the same pattern/shape over-and-over again without mistake. This makes them a popular choice for mass production or manufacturing components that need to fit together exactly.

How does it work?

Modern CNC routers can be linked to programmes available on standard desktop computers. These CAD or CAM programmes allow you to create a computer numerical tool path which is then followed by the cutting device. The user inputs the exact measurements and dimensions of the item they wish to cut. This information is then fed through to the router which carries out the commands exactly.

Generally, you’ll find that CNC routers cut in 3 distinct directions, known as the X-axis (length), the Y-axis (width) and the Z-axis (vertical). The router will move along these directions, cutting as it goes and creating the shape required.


  • Highly accurate – As they are computer-controlled, CNC routers can cut to exact precision. This makes them a preferable choice over handheld alternatives.
  • Complex designs – CNC routers make it easy to cut more complex and detailed designs out, without over-complicating the cutting process.
  • Reduced waste – As they are so accurate, CNC routers eliminate a significant percentage of the waste produced during manufacturing.
  • Increased productivity – These machines can work quickly and much more productively than handheld machines.
  • Accuracy maintained regardless of material – These strong machines can glide through a variety of materials and maintain accuracy too.
  • Reduced manufacturing times – You’ll be able to produce more of the same product with the same, consistent quality.

Here at 3D Pattern and Mouldmakers Ltd, we have 2 CNC routers running daily supplying components for either mould construction or patterns required for producing GRP or rubber work. If you would like to discuss a specific project with a member of our team, get in contact today.