Wood carving is one of the common types of processing of decorative wooden parts. This processing can be carried out either manually by hand, or automatically by a machine.
Hand carving is laborious and slow. Moreover, it requires time and you have to pay a highly qualified specialist to get a project done. Given these characteristics, hand carving cannot be automated. Therefore, it becomes unprofitable in mass production since it is expensive and time-consuming compared to other processing methods.
Still, automation is possible for wood carving. This can be done by replacing manual carving by milling on a CNC machine .
Wood carving machines allow you to set up a production workshop with a small start-up investment. With just basic knowledge on the operation of CNC machines, having the right software, and a small warehouse or workshop, you can set up a decorative furniture store at a low cost. In your workshop, you can create exclusive decorative elements and pieces of furniture with a machine,rather than hiring expensive craftsmen.
Read on to find out what to consider when choosing a CNC woodworking machine.
How to Buy a CNC Machine
A CNC machine is a woodworking automation machine that can be used to create images, complex shapes and engravings on solid woods and other materials. The machine works automatically through software instructions.
With a basic CNC machine and a few more woodworking tools, you can establish a profitable business at a low cost. The main type of machine that can replace manual woodcarving is a milling machine.
Here are some of the things to keep in mind when looking to buy a CNC woodworking machine.
Purpose of the Machine
CNC milling machines can be used in production of any scale. Using small devices, you can have a fully-fledged wood carving business in a small workshop at with a small investment. Industrial wood carving machines are installed in large industries. Regardless of the power of the equipment and the size of the working field, these machines can be used to make decorative elements for furniture and interiors.
The machine works by executing a software running on a computer. Therefore, you do not need in-depth knowledge of design and engineering to tackle a project. Moreover, the machine makes it easy to create both single and mass identical products.
Features of CNC Milling Machines
- The machines can perform a wide range of production tasks, thanks to their simple control and advanced electronics,
- The machines have high precision ,which means you can even make microreliefs
- The machines are easy to maintain. They are reliable and durable.
- The main consumable material for the machines are cutters. These are easy to obtain and relatively cheap.
Before buying a wood carving machine, decide on your budget and the main type of projects you will be undertaking. These two will help you determine which CNC machine will be suitable for your workshop.
How CNC Wood Carving Machines Work
The most time-consuming part of creating 3D objects from wood is designing the model on a computer. You have to develop a model of the product and set the parameters of the machine operation, i.e., the trajectory of movement and the speed of movement of the cutter, and the type of cutting.
To accomplish these tasks, two types of software are needed. The first software is for creating a 3D drawing, while the second is for drawing up a processing program, i.e., programming the movement of the cutter.
Here are the steps on using a CNC woodworking machine:
- Draw a 3D model of the future product in a CAD software
- Import the file with the object is imported into a programming software and define the cutter trajectory
- Divide the model into separate stages
- Set the technical parameters of the CNC machine, i.e., depth of cut, speed of movement of the cutter, height of lifting of the cutting tool, etc .;
- Check a visual of the file in the computer software to make sure that the entered parameters are correct
- Save the specified parameters and generate a G-code using software. G-code refers to a set of commands for the machine to follow when carving your model.
Here are the steps for the second stage of the work:
- Install the workpiece on the machine
- Make sure that all elements of the machine and the workpiece are correctly fixed
- Run the control program on the machine
- When the automatic work is complete, remove the finished object from the machine and check the quality of the completed project. Critical items such as attachment points or external dimensions must be checked with measuring equipment to ensure their accuracy.
- Sand the finished part by hand
- Finish out the part e.g., priming, painting, varnishing, etc.
Which CNC Wood Carving Machine Should You Buy?
There are many CNC wood carving machines on the market. Check the specifications and features of the machine to find out whether it will be capable of handing the kind of projects you will be undertaking. Also, compare the prices of different machines.
There are two main types of milling machines:
- Cantilever – Here, the milling unit is stationary while the working table moves along two axes
- Consoleless – Here, the cutter moves with a carriage along the transverse and longitudinal guides. The numerical program block is positioned horizontally or vertically.
Numeric blocks can be categorized into three:
- Positional. Here, the cutter is installed at a specific position on the surface of the workpiece;
- Contour. Here, the cutter moves along a certain trajectory;
- Universal. This equipment combine the capabilities of both systems.
When choosing a milling machine, consider:
- Maximum dimensions of the workpiece
- Number of head revolutions
- Rotational speed of the cutter at idle
- Cooling system parameters, if there is one on the machine.
In some machines, additional functions are implemented that may be needed in the work. Some milling machines also have a swivel head that allows engraving at a given angle. Additional functionality increases the price of the machine. Therefore, carefully consider your needs before settling on a particular machine.
For the machine to perform various operations accurately, the motor power must be controlled by the CNC.
Most CNC wood carving machines only process wood and other soft materials such as plastics and wood composites (chipboard, fiberboard, MDF).
Here are some more things you should know before buying a milling machine:
- For processing wood and plastics, the capabilities of devices in the lower and middle price segment are sufficient
- There are small tabletop units that can be placed in almost any industrial setting. High-performance milling machines require large space and have to be placed on a solid horizontal surface;
- The power of the machines vary. Therefore, choose a model that is suitable for the capacity of the power grid at the site.
Finally, the power of the spindle that type of material that can be machined. Here are some
- Up to 800 W – suitable for plywood carving, e.g., the TEN-HIGH 3020 CNC Machine and SolidCraft CNC 3040.
- Up to 2.2 kW – for solid wood carving, e.g. RanBB CNC Engraver and SolidCraft CNC-6090
- Over 2.5 kW – for processing wood on an industrial scale. These machines can work on stone and engrave soft metals and alloys (copper, brass, aluminum). One such machine is : SolidCraft CNC-1325 .
How to Set Up a CNC Woodworking Machine
CNC woodworking machines are controlled by a computer and a control board, or with a stand-alone console. The first type of CNC machines are convenient for small business, while the second type is often used in large industries.
CNC machines with control boards must be configured via a computer. Various modules in the software are used to perform calibration. Machine tools with stand-alone consoles have special built-in modules that allow you to configure the equipment either in a fully automatic mode or manually. The configuration allows the machine to remember the positioning of the cutter.
CNC machines automate much of the woodworking process. You only needs to develop or use a ready-made CAD file, prepare it for import to the machine, fix a suitable workpiece on the machine, and after finishing the machine, finish the part.
A CNC woodworking machine eliminates many hours of painstaking work of a woodcarver. The machine can produce diverse wooden decorative parts in less time and lower cost. This brings efficiency and profitability of production to a new level.