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Is a CNC router good enough for you to make pre-insulated ducts?

Is a CNC router good enough for you to make pre-insulated ducts?


Is a CNC router good enough for you to make pre-insulated ducts?

What is a CNC Router?

According to Wikipedia, CNC router is short for computer numerical control router. It is a computer-controlled cutting machine which typically mounts a hand-held router as a spindle. It can be used to cut a variety of materials like wood, metals, plastics, and glass ect. A CNC router is similar in concept to a CNC milling machine.


Application of CNC routers

A CNC router can be used to make a variety of items. For example, furniture, moldings, interior and exterior decorations, wood panels, and sing boards ect. They can be used to cut materials as following:

1. CNC Wood router

A CNC wood router can be used to carves or etched objects or images into the face of a piece of wood. This kind of CNC router often works on the Cartesian coordinate system (X,Y,Z) for 3D motion control.  

CNC Wood router

2. Metal milling machine

Milling machines are often used to cut metals. It uses rotary cutters to remove material from a workpiece in a direction at an angle with the axis of the tool. Milling machines are commonly used in industry and machine shops today.


3. Polyurethane foam cutting machine

A CNC router can also be used to cut Polyurethane foams, to make complex shapes. These shapes are normally difficult or impossible to replicate by hands. A CNC router can read the information from a CAM file, and then produce an accurate product. Because the computer can convert a CAD design into a CAM file.

Polyurethane foam cutting machine

CNC Routers used in HVAC ductworks

As pre-insulated duct systems are becoming more and more popular in HVAC industry, the demand for CNC cutting machines to replace hand cutting is increasing. A CNC router can be used to cut Polyurethane foam as mentioned above. But is it good and functional enough to handle your daily tasks? This remains a doubt for most of our customers.

 Can you use a CNC wood router to cut pre-insulated ducts?

1. Cutting results of an Oscillating tangential knife

CNC wood routers often come with an Oscillating tangential knife, which is also called a vibrating knife. It’s able to go up and down to cut wood materials at a high speed. But please remember pre-insulated duct panels are more like foams. If the knife works too fast, it will create much dust.

This photo was provided by our client who used a CNC wood router to cut Phenolic duct panels. He complaints that the router creates too much noise and dusts. He said that he will never go for a router despite the fact that CNC router has lower price. Because router that comes with a vibrating knife are initially used to cut woods.  And the knife goes up and down quickly, which will generate lots of dusts.  That’s why most of them are equipped with a Vacuum cleaner.

Cutting results of an Oscillating tangential knife

2. Cutting results of a drag knife

Drag knife is commonly used in a CNC knife cutting machine. It often comes with a drag knife tool. A drag tool is a blade simply pushed by the machine. Drag knives are often easy to use and easy to replace. They are often used to cut thin and fine materials like sticker and vinyl ect. In HVAC industry, drag knife is used to cut insulation materials like foam insulation, PIR PU duct panels ect.

Cutting results of a drag knife

Using a drag knife to cut pre-insulated duct materials ensures smooth cutting results. The drag knife of our CNC cutting machine is designed to cut pre-insulated duct materials specifically. The knife has been tested to make sure it’s sharp and durable at R&D stage.

drag knife

Some CNC router manufacturers replace the Oscillating tangential knife with a drag knife to cut pre-insulated duct materials. But this kinds of  machine often comes with 2 drag knives with fixed angles. For example, 15°and 45°. But imagine that you  need  to cut 4 angles on one duct board, 10°, 15°,30°, and 45°. But the knives only have 2 fixed angles. So you have to change  knives to cut different angles.

In conclusion, we suggest you to buy a specific pre-insulated duct fabrication cnc machine. Because a pre-insulated duct  fabrication cnc machine is not like CNC routers. A pre-insulated duct fabrication cnc machine is for cutting PIR PU and  Phenolic duct panels specifically. For a pre-insulated duct fabrication cnc machine, we have special decided knives to cut the PIR PU  Phenolic pre-insulated duct panels. The knives are the key parts for a pre-insulated duct fabrication cnc machine. If you purchase a pre- insulated duct fabrication cnc machine that is not equipped with the suitable knives, it will cost you time and money. 

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