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How to…select the most appropriate router for your needs

How to…select the most appropriate router for your needs

Is it more advantageous to invest in a fully customised CNC router or will a standard off-the-shelf machine be sufficient to meet production requirements?

This is a question that sign and graphics companies will inevitably ask. As a leading global manufacturer and distributor of high-performance CNC routing, engraving and cutting machines, AXYZ International, examines some of these factors and offers advice on how to avoid pitfalls that can occur during the purchasing process.

Every company endeavours to demonstrate due diligence when deciding between a fully customised CNC machine and an off-the-shelf one, but the decision is not an easy one and a number of factors have to be considered before determining which of the two options is the most appropriate in relation to individual requirements.

The evaluation process can be quite complex, given the fact that customised CNC routers have evolved rapidly over the past decade to offer considerably more functionality. The focus of potential buyers has to be on both the present and future requirements of their businesses in the context of a router’s capabilities, the required quality of the finished output, production volumes, the effective use of time and labour and the contribution the machine will make to the future growth and prosperity of the business.

Traditional methods of sign and graphics production have existed for years. However, the drawback has always been the commitment of time and labour, particularly when it came to the more specialised and complex sign and graphics applications. With the emergence and evolvement of CNC routers, traditional and time-consuming manual processes have rapidly been replaced to enable huge savings in time and labour costs, increased production levels and a superior quality of output.

For small and/or start-up companies that may have either considered customised CNC routers as too expensive in the context of the bottom line of the business, or failed to appreciate the potential that existed with customised machines in terms of business growth and profitability, an off-the-shelf machine would at first glance appear to be a logical choice. To a certain extent, such thinking still exists today within these companies, primarily due to the lower initial investment requirement on off-the-shelf machines.


axyz router

However, the continually expanding capabilities of CNC customised routers has now changed this perception, with the availability of a plethora of additional and highly advanced machine enhancements that enable engagement with highly complex and/or industrial-grade applications for which off-the-shelf routers would be totally unsuited in view of their limited capabilities. This would explain the growing interest in NBM (Nested-Based Manufacturing) by small or start-up companies which now view fully customised CNC routers as an opportunity for expansion, business growth, divergence into new markets and increased profitability.

In stark contrast, off-the-shelf routers are very restricted in their use. They are invariably sourced via the internet from a third-party reseller or distributor, resulting in no direct access to the manufacturer when technical support or necessary spare parts are required and with little or no operator training provided. They also incorporate only the basic of standard production tools (invariably just a single routing head as one example), provide only a standard bed size, cannot use different production tools and controllers and have insufficient torque to undertake heavier and more complex work, as well as being unable to carry out vital machine upgrades.

Whilst there is an understandable reason for small or start-up business owners to initially opt for an off-the-shelf machine in spite of the foregoing, the dramatically enhanced capabilities of fully customised CNC routers can now be harnessed without impacting unduly on the bottom line of any business, regardless of size and financial status.

Some key considerations to be made before arriving at a decision to purchase either an off-the-shelf or fully customised CNC machine are as follows:

  • If a lower-cost off-the-shelf machine is opted for, make sure it will deliver precisely what is required for the work being undertaken and the need for future business growth
  • Do not misjudge the type of tooling required to process widely differing materials, particularly since some tools have been designed for highly specialised routing, cutting and shaping applications
  • Be aware of the parts and accessories required to maximise production in order not to incur additional costs later
  • Check the level of support that would be available. It is more efficient in terms of cost and maintenance when the supplier of the machine is also the technical support advisor, particularly since third-party providers are invariably more expensive and less reliable.
  • Define supplier responsibilities by making sure the supplier offers comprehensive training programmes and can maintain spare parts availability
  • Make sure the machine purchased is capable of future upgrades in order to take advantage of new technological advances and their capabilities

For further information, visit or telephone Tel: 01952 291600

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