What is a CNC pantograph?

CNC pantographs are computerised numerical control processing centres whose axes are managed by a computer that is integrated within the machine itself. The movement of the axes and the machine’s functions are pre-set through a programming software known as CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing).

tools for cnc machine

The introduction of CNC tool machines has radically modified the way manufacturing companies produce. In fact, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) has made it possible for tool machines to complete machining operations with greater:

  • precision
  • flexibility
  • speed
  • repeatability

The movements of CNC tool machines are coordinated electronically so that the tools follow predefined trajectories on axes. The operator’s task is to use CAM to generate the instructions required by the tool machine for the realization of a specific object starting from a CAD project.

frese per pantografo CNC

In the field of wood processing as well, CNC tool machines or CNC processing centres allow achieving extremely high quality standards, all the way through to the  finished pieces. There are various kinds of CNC work centres on the market, capable of completing different types of machining operations.

The work centres most commonly used for the processing of panels are:

  • CNC for milling
  • CNC for edgebanding
  • CNC for nesting
  • CNC for doors and windows

The number of machining operations which can be carried out on a CNC pantograph depends on how many of the machine’s mobile axes are managed by numerical control. These represent the degrees of freedom of the machine itself. The axes allow tilting of the tool with respect to the work surface, granting greater flexibility of movement during the machining operation.

The number of mobile axes ranges from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 5. In this last case, the traditional 3 axes which make it possible to simultaneously complete machining operations in height, width, and depth, are joined by the rotation of the tool holder head and by the rotation of the piece being processed.

Tools for cnc machines: how to choose the most suitable

CNC machining centres represent an important advantage for the furniture industry; their implementation has, furthermore, led to a major increase in the production of both straight-cut and shaped-cut router bits (shank cutters).

Selecting the cutter that is most suitable for a CNC pantograph is not a simple task, which is why we will suggest some of the key aspects to consider in the selection of the tool:

  • the machining operation to be completed
  • the material that will be processed

Let’s analyse them separately.

Tools for cnc machine

Machining operation to be completed

Let’s begin with saying that the primary machining operations that can be completed on a CNC pantograph are:

  • contouring
  • cutting
  • drilling
  • shaping
  • grooving

Specific cutters exist for each machining operation, but the most important things to consider are the part of the panel which will be processed, the quality of the finish desired, and the depth of the treatment (or rather the volume of shavings that will be removed).

The first two variables affect the choice of geometry of the cutter’s cutting edge, while the depth of the milled portion determines the choice of shank. For a “heavy” or “deep” milling operation, it is necessary to aim for greater support than what is necessary for a “light” milling operation like, for example, that needed to bevel a corner.

Analysis of the type of machining operation must be looked at in relation to other parameters like the material to be processed, the number of rotations, and the feed speed.

The type of material

We previously emphasised the fact that every machining operation is different and that it is absolutely fundamental to establish a relationship between the various factors which affect the machining operation in order to select the most appropriate pantograph cutter. Among these factors, analysis of the type of material is very important.

Every material has its own unique characteristics. For example, wood is a natural material with many variations, from very hard to very soft and from pure to composite, while others, like chipboard, may contain scraps of wood, metal, glue, etc.

That is why each material may require a cutter with a specific design.

For example: the pantograph bits used in the machining operation of wood laminate are designed not to ruin the layers of coating, while those used for wood are designed to leave a clean edge.

To summarise, being highly familiar with the material to be processed is imperative to selecting the cutter material that is most suitable to one’s machining operation.

Router bits for CNC pantographs: polycrystalline diamond or tungsten carbide?

As we said, the selection of the type of material of the cutter’s cutting edge or of the router bit, or what have you, changes depending on the type of wood we are dealing with.

Router bits for Wirutex hi-tech tools’ CNC have cutting edges that come in:

  • Polycrystalline diamond (PCD)
  • Solid tungsten carbide (HWM)
Perché utilizzare utensili in diamante policristallino

Polycrystalline diamond (PCD) bits for CNC pantographs

The polycrystalline diamond pantograph bits are used on CNCs for cutting operations, contouring, and boring and for creating canals, finger joints, and rebating. The cutting edges are small tips that have been brazed the colour black.

Polycrystalline diamond is an extremely hard material, suitable for repeated machining operations and is highly recommended for processing material like chipboard, MDF, melamine, plywood and coated plywood,  HPL, and CORIAN.

As compared to other materials like, for example, solid tungsten carbide, it is initially more expensive, but its greater strength guarantees a greater cutting duration as compared to traditional tools with tungsten carbide cutters, thus keeping production costs to a minimum and optimising both yield and quality.

Perché utilizzare utensili in metallo duro

Solid tungsten carbide (HWM) bits for CNC pantographs

Solid tungsten carbide cutters are bits that are used very frequently in CNC machining centres. Unlike the polycrystalline diamond bits, the cutting edge is made from the same material as the body of the cutter.

Its use is recommended primarily for processing materials like hard woods and other materials that require a greater discharge of chips.

From the very beginning we emphasised how analysis of the type of machining operation to be performed is a fundamental aspect in the selection of the cutter for CNC, and how it must be looked at in relation to other processing parameters like the type of material to be processed, the number of rotations, and the feed speed. Finding the right balance between all of these parameters is not simple. That is why it is of absolute importance that one rely on a tool supplier that has extensive experience in the field and is also capable of providing the most proper guidelines for achieving the optimum balance between the various processing parameters.

Why choose Wirutex hi-tech tools?

Wirutex hi-tech tools designs, manufactures, and distributes hi-tech tools for machines that process wood, plastic materials, and aluminium. Founded in 1980, it’s now the leading company in the development of polycrystalline diamond and tungsten carbide products for quality craftsmanship and for the furniture industry.

The use of the latest generation of technology, together with an in-depth knowledge of the market and of materials, allows Wirutex hi-tech Tools to stay focused on innovation and to create tailor-made tools according to the specific needs of customers.

Each stage of the industrial process, from the initial project to the end product, undergoes rigorous, detailed checks to guarantee functionality, safety, and high performance. This system is extended to all of our services, allowing us to consistently increase quality levels and experiment with new technologies.

Our products are certified in accordance with European law EN 847-1 and are certified by the German organisation DGUV. The braze-welding process is certified by the Italian Welding Institute.