Comparing a CNC Router versus CNC Milling Machine

Dec 11, 2020 | CNC Machining | 4 comments

CNC machines come in many forms. Just about any kind of machining can be hooked to a computer and used with a computer to create easily-repeatable products exactly to spec. 

Two of the more common CNC machines are the CNC router and the CNC milling machine. Both routers and milling machines have a long history of use in manufacturing. From very primitive versions that are now basically museum pieces to highly advanced, multi-axis machines, the core concepts have remained the same for centuries. While the two perform similar functions, there are notable differences that can determine when and what you use them for.

CNC Router

A CNC router machine hollows out spaces in a material, usually wood. They are also used to machine softer materials such as plastics. The router does its work with a rapidly spinning spindle that is moved along the X, Y, and Z axes. They tend to be larger than CNC milling machines and can be quite large indeed, able to work large pieces of material in accordance with a CNC model.

CNC Milling Machine

The CNC milling machine is often used for harder material, specifically metal. It works in a similar way to the CNC router, which resembles a drill but is actually meant to cut rather than, well, drill. This cutter is used to remove pieces of material by spinning at high speed, though often not as fast as the router. 

Horizontal milling machines are oriented so that the cutter moves horizontally across the material, which can be very stable but also limits the directions the mill can cut. CNC vertical mill machines are mounted vertically and are able to move along X, Y, and Z axes in many cases. This allows them to make not only cuts across at any angle but also cuts of varying depths as well. 

What Does CNC Do for Routing and Milling?

CNC allows for routing and milling machines to be more precise than they would be with a manual operator and do so every time. They will follow a design perfectly and run automatically. While 3-axis CNC machines are very common, there are also CNC 5-axis machines and CNC 7-axis machines. A greater range of motion allows for smoother and more complex machining, though it should be noted that more complex movement means more complex (and expensive) machinery. For many projects, a three access allows for excellent accuracy, though more complicated, detailed, and odd-angled designs will need to have more axes to work with. 

At Jawstec, we are CNC experts. We provide excellent CNC milling services that ensure the most accurate fidelity to design every time. We can also walk you through every step of your product design process in order to ensure it is made of the right material and with the right tools to get the result you need. Contact us today!


  1. Jamie

    Thanks for sharing the post with us. Each of them has pros and cons, that depend on the details requirement, CNC router is expensive and hard to use, milling machine is suitable for the regular part which is not strict with dimension accuracy.


    Thanks for sharing. CNC router are always used for wood working. CNC milling machines and laser cutting machines are used for metal machining.

  3. Alex Diana

    thanks for sharing your post.CNC router use to machine.

  4. Linnea

    Thanks For sharing. A really informative article. It will be very helpful to the newbies in this field.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.