Vertical Machining Center Vs CNC Router

When deciding which CNC machinery you want to purchase, it may come between a Vertical Machining Center or a CNC router. You can use these two different pieces of equipment for many reasons for various things. Which one should you be considering?

What is a CNC router?

The CNC router is a precise computer-controlled cutting machine designed to cut various materials such as non-ferrous metals, wood, plastics, or high-density foam. The most popular CNC routers offer highly accurate precision cutting with an expansive array of machine sizes and configurations. Metalworking with a CNC router is possible, but it is not the most common option as it doesn’t have the flexibility to machine ferrous metals. You will likely see these used for plastic, foam, and wood.

What is a Vertical Machining Center?

The Vertical Machining Center is one of the most flexible machines in the world. They are highly automated functional machines. The VMC employs a vertical spindle and worktable orientation, allowing these operations to happen on a horizontal machining bed. The VMC can perform drilling, milling, boring, tapping, and is often a popular machine tool for steel machining. It provides top-notch versatility, flexibility, and rigidity.

What can you do with a Vertical Machining Center?

These machines are most commonly used in machine shops,  fab shops, and machinery manufacturing industries. These machines’ versatility can handle various machining processes, including milling, drilling, tapping, and boring in ferrous and non-ferrous metals. With a VMC, you can perform tasks a lot quicker and smoother, get products out of the door in a quicker time and keep customers satisfied. These machines can come with many configurations and options.

Cons of a CNC Router

The CNC routers are often loud due to their vacuum or extraction system and high-speed spindle, and the sound will vary based on the material. A CNC router is also not the best for steel as it doesn’t have the torque of a Vertical Machining Center. A CNC router also has to make smaller and less aggressive cuts due to the high RPMs of the spindle. Unlike a milling machine, these routers are not the best with steel-type material.

Why the Vertical Machining Center over a CNC router?

When it comes to the Vertical Machining Center, there is a huge upside and potential, especially with large gantry-style machining centers. The lengths and widths of these machines can be configured to customers’ specific needs and have tons of machining space for nearly any application. With the VMC, you can run this machine much harder and push it more for its full capabilities.  More often than not, steel will be the material used in large profile machining, and the VMC is the best machine tool solution for this. Some may argue that a CNC router is more efficient because it utilizes a higher RPM spindle, which will get the job done faster. In reality, higher RPMs lead to lighter cuts and possibly more machining time. A VMC has a lower RPM, allowing for more extensive and aggressive cuts. The increased metal removal rate could result in a faster cycle time, even with a finishing pass. Both styles of CNC machines can do what you need, but for flexibility, versatility, and rigidity, you should consider a Vertical Machining Center.

The FlexCNC is a Vertical Machining Center and could be a better alternative to a CNC router. For more information on FlexCNC, please visit https://flexmachinetools.com/flexcnc/. Or request a quote today.

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Standard Features

  • Hand Pendant
  • 22″ Touch Screen Monitor
  • Omron FlexCNC Controller
  • Mobile Control Panel
  • Through Spindle Coolant 
  • Auto Tool Changer 
  • Flood Coolant
HP
Max RPM
FT/LBS
Series

18

4000

92

C-20-02 / C-10-02

18

6000

61

C-20-02 / C-10-02

33

12000

61

CM-20-02

Auto Stand-Off – This is currently defined to be surface stand-off and not to be confused with vector stand-off in 5-axis mode. The current auto stand-off is based on a changing surface and will adjust vertically based on the angle of the “A” Axis, so there is five (5) axis taken into account during the calculations, but this is not the same as the tool vector stand-off. There is the ability to do the vector stand-off change while the machine is running manually with buttons on the screen.

Z-Reader Probe – The Z-Reader is a device for mapping the location of the surface. It can be controlled manually & programmatically. The option is NOT active while cutting & is retracted out of harm’s way. It can be triggered to verify the surface at every pierce before the cutting process starts, or it could be used to drive surface mapping of the whole part before cutting starts. It begins with initialization or zeroing of the device to the surface at the beginning of a program and then accumulates or tracks the difference from that zeroing effort.

Automatic Edge Finder – The edge finder is or can be utilized manually (Jogging Method & Screen Buttons), programmatically (M & G codes), or fully automatic routine (dedicated program). This option sets offsets & program rotation to match the orientation & location on the cutting table.

AC Unit Installed on Electrical Cabinet – The unit is mounted on the cabinet’s High Power (480v) side. It is close to the location where the drives are mounted. This option keeps the cabinet temperature stable and allows heat dissipation faster. The servo drives for all axes are the most significant contributors to heat inside the electrical cabinet.

5-Axis Renishaw CalibrationThe calibration unit is a Renishaw model APCA45 with a modified spherical stylus. The device has a retractable cover and air purge to clear debris & dust during the activation process. It mounts to a swing arm controlled by a pneumatic rotary, so it is out of the way during regular operation and swings into the calibration position for calibration only. 

HP
Max RPM
FT/LBS
Series

18

4000

92

G-20-06 / G-10-06

18

6000

61

G-20-06 / -10-06

40

4000

217

GM-20-06 / G-20-06 / G-10-06

40

6000

145

G-20-06 / G-20-06 / G-10-06