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Can a CNC Router cut Steel?

When machining metals like steel, most people prefer using high-performance milling machines, and there is no doubt that such machines can easily handle even the most complicated task. These spindles can rotate cutting tools at high speed that is almost incomparable to the most exceptional drills.

However, a CNC router can feature a spindle operating at a much higher top speed than your average conventional mill.

So, to answer the question, can a CNC router cut steel? The answer is yes, and no!

Machining metals, including steel using a CNC router, is possible with heavy duty and powerful industrial CNC routers.

One can easily cut steel by matching the material with the appropriate feed rate and the right end mill bit.

However, it’s essential to bear in mind that most hobby and diy CNC routers will not have the power or rigidity to withhold cutting steel.

Therefore, an industrial CNC router can help you in removing materials for both steel sheets and plates. It all depends on other factors, like making sure you are using the right end mill.

Cutting steel, however, requires a different approach as it is not the same as cutting wood or plastic.

Steel has different sweet spots when it comes to optimal feeds and speeds. With this, your CNC router might start to break, especially if the sweet spots are not considered leading to wearing out, and inferior resultant surface finish.

Also, keep in mind the stickiness nature of steel.

The steel deposition on your cutting edge means that the device will not be serving you for long, mainly if you are using the CNC router at 20,000 RPM or even more.

Navigating through these challenges means that you can apply any router in cutting any metal, including steel.

can a cnc router cut steel

What Other Materials Can your Hobby Sized CNC Router Cut

A hobby CNC router is a small type CNC machine perfect for small-sized hobbyists and can be controlled by a DSP or computer. They are mostly used in small businesses in creating logos, furniture, decorations, and display panels.

While a small-sized hobby router has a lot of applications, it plays an essential role in cutting different materials including, wood, soft metals such as copper and aluminum, plastic, organic glass, and artificial stones.

In woodworking, this machine can be used in cutting wooden furniture and doors, cabinets, panels, and 3D wave plates. DIY CNC Routers can also be used to sometimes cut aluminum, mdf, plastics, and carbon fiber.

This shows that small-sized CNC routers can cut various materials other than the desired cutting of steel. However, you have to ensure that the right measures are in place when using the small-sized CNC router to cut these materials.

How much does a CNC Router Cost?

The price range of CNC routers varies depending on the features installed and the model. Each CNC machine is made to serve a specific function. With this, let’s check out some of the most common three types of CNC router models and the price tags.

#1 Hobby Size CNC Routers Price Range

Hobby CNC routers usually come in kits with different size ranges. They are designed for home business and hobbyists with the homemade CNC router being made from aluminum or wood with every essential feature. The hobby CNC machine price ranges from $600 to $4000.

#2 Low-End Industrial CNC Router Models

These routers are more advanced than the Hobby size router. However, they are designed for light jobs and function on 3 axes with the vertical axis and Z-axis being limited to around 6 inches. The price of this machine varies depending on the spindle type with a price tag of approximately $4,000 to $25,000.

#3 High-End Industrial CNC Router Models

The high-end CNC routers are perfect for industrial applications, with some weighing up to several tons. They also have the best features, including the ATC spindles and standalone vacuum systems.

Proper training is a must before one can start working with these machines due to their complications. The high-end CNC routers offer the best tolerance and have a price range of between $60,000 and $100,000.

The best CNC router must have the ability to meet your needs in the best way possible. For someone looking for a CNC router with the ability to cut steel, purchasing one that perfectly fits this specification is advisable for better results.


So when determining what materials you need to cut with your CNC Router, a fundamental question to ask yourself is can this CNC Router cut steel?  Just remember it all depends on the CNC Router you have or are looking to purchase.  You need a strong and sturdy frame with a spindle and motor is powerful enough to handle steel.  Stay safe, just remember to never stop making!

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Joshua Garcia, Founder

Hi, I'm Joshua. I created Maker Industry to share my passion for maker tools and help others learn about 3D printing, CNC systems, laser cutting and more. Learn More