A CNC machine, which can be a great investment, can take you places you might not have thought of going. The versatility of CNC machines opens the door to engraving either as a specialty or as a fun hobby. With the three-dimensional milling capabilities of a CNC mill and software, only your imagination is the limit.
CNC mill engraving can be used to craft wooden or metal plaques and awards; make fine artwork; and create molds, busts, signs, and even jewelry. Engraving tools can also be used to custom machine gears, cogs, and parts long out of production. With the addition of a rotary axis table, it’s possible to engrave cylindrical objects, such as a trophy or even a treasured game bat.
Some of the substances that can be engraved are:
- Stainless steel
- Precious metals
- Industrial specialty alloys
- Cast iron
- Anodized and plated metals
- Carbon fiber
Consulting a professional will help you determine the best attachment for your CNC machine and what tools you will need to do your engraving work. You should also consult an expert in selecting the carbide tools for your engraver after you decide what materials you will be working with. Starter kits are available for your machine with a variety of bits included, but there are more popular tips to use with different materials.
Your choice of materials will determine your choice of bits, but there’s no need to limit yourself—experiment and see what your CNC can really do! There is an overwhelming variety of sizes and shapes made for pinpoint accuracy or for general routing work, but some of the most common types and their uses are:
Spiral and Compression
: Designed for routing, grooving, making dado cuts, and mortising materials from those as soft as plastic, wood, or foam board to harder materials like steel and non-ferrous metals.
: Used for working with materials such as melamine, laminates, wood, solid surfacing composites, and even aluminum. Best for lettering and making perfectly mitered joints.
: Come in 30 and 60 degree angles and a variety of sizes for highly detailed engraving, sign-making, and other lettering or design needs.
Choose the material with which you’ll be working as well as the type of engraving you want to do and consult a professional on what works best. The proper combination of a CNC machine and engraving attachments can help you create anything from beautiful artwork to functional products.