There’s more to a CNC Router than making furniture, and it does more than just cut wood.

“It’s key for so many manufacturing techniques,” says Henry Levine, creator and owner of co-working makerspace Made In Workshop.

Traditionally used to make 2D cuts from wood, a CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) Router can have a range of applications, including using the machine as a 3D ‘printer’.

CNC Router MIW

“Many people don’t realise it, but a CNC Router can achieve finished 3D cuts, and it can be used for vacuum moulding too.”

To illustrate a CNC Router’s 3D capabilities, Henry uses an example of an Easter egg mould: essentially two pieces of hollow plastic joined together, it’s a 3D object that’s hollow inside. Keeping with the Easter theme (despite being a not-so-good Jewish boy), Henry takes the example a step further: a solid, wooden rabbit.

“With a CNC Router, you can machine-cut curves into solid materials like wood, metal, plastic and MDF, transforming them into 3D objects – like a wooden rabbit.”

Have look here for examples of simple, solid 3D wooden toys made by a Latvian toy maker, using an OMNI CNC Router (the same brand that Made In Workshop uses). With some know-how and training, incredibly complex 3D fabrication can be also achieved – check out this video and this one.

CNC Router Co-working space South Africa
CNC Router Co-working space South Africa

Of course, the CNC Router is excellent for repetitive machinery tasks too.

“It’s your proverbial bitch,” says Henry. “It’s designed to do the same job perfectly. Every. Single. Time.”

According to Henry, programming of CNC routers hasn’t been done for the last 20 years; these days the machines mostly use CAM (Computer-aided Manufacturing) software, which automatically turns a design into a code that the CNC Router can understand, called g-code.

“The software does all the work for you, no code needed,” adds Henry. “You need to know the basics like how to make a cut, but no hardcore programming is needed. Besides, Made In Workshop offers training, which is included in the membership fee for the nitty-gritty basics.”

CNC Router Made In Workshop
CNC Router Made In Workshop

According to Henry, Made In Workshop’s OMNI CNC Router would ordinarily be like any other CNC Router, except for the fact that it’s equipped with HCL’s Camworks software, which makes it capable of both 2D and 3D machining. Made In Workshop’s CNC Router can create delicate 3D features such as fillets, complicated geometry, prototypes, art, production work, and more.

Like Henry says, there’s more to a CNC Router than making furniture – and Made In Workshop will show you why. Want to be part of Maker Culture? Contact Made In Workshop on 087 701 4156, or pop by and take a look around at 65 Maria Street, Fontainebleau.