CNC Routers for FRC Robotics


Connect hoses to spindle, connect other end to fountain pump, throw pump into bucket of distilled water, add 25-50% RV anti-freeze to discourage mold growth.


Anyone have any favorite tools, feeds, speeds, and depths of cut for polycarbonate? I’m not real happy with slotting with the straight flute bits from McMaster. Too much chatter when slotting.


Get a pressure foot if you can. I usually go full DOC at 100 IPM/24K RPM with a sharp single flute. It’s best if you keep your metal and plastic endmills separate.

Without a pressure foot sometimes placing weights around what I’m cutting helps to stabilize the work.


This is excellent. We received a Velox 5050 shortly before this season started. It hasn’t been set up yet. It is definitely something we will be doing post season.

The array of vises along the side is really interesting. What do you recommend for an assortment of bits? The kit we got doesn’t have much and I’m sure we’ll break off a few as we learn. We plan on cutting aluminum, plastics and wood.

Thanks in advance.


548 uses “screw machine” (stub length) drill bits for all of our hole sizes up to F in the QMTC holders and a single-flute 1/4" up-cut spiral (o-flute) endmill for all of our milling. At first, we tried using the included 1/8" 2 flute endmill for screw slots, but it didn’t work well, so we switched to a line of holes instead. We are also planning on switching to a small drill chuck for our drill bits to make tool changes quicker as mentioned in Devin’s post here. We also have a large woodcutting 1 1/2" endmill for facing our wasteboard which we make from the 2x12s of the crate. If you haven’t spent your Inventables PDV, I’d recommend picking up their set of chamfer/v-groove bits (along with wire ferrules and the crimper for them).


Please refer to post #80 for a link to the toolholders that we use for our endmills.

1678 uses mostly 4mm and 6mm single flute carbide endmills as they are super easy to grind to a sharp end again and are undersize for 3/16" and 1/4" respectively. We buy ours from We use mostly #10 drill bits, 135 degree split point. DO NOT BUY CHISEL TIP STYLE DRILL BITS FOR YOUR ROUTER, and please just don’t buy them in general, you’ll thank me if you ever compare the cutting forces required.


what bits are you guys using? and whats the most common material you cut?


I was having fun with some $1.50 4mm carbide endmills from China the other day. I ordered another 10 and will be doing more in-depth testing before I recommend them to others, but they were charging through 6061 at 42 IPM at 18,000 RPM with a 0.13" stepover and a 0.075" DOC on an adaptive clear. I would ramp up the IPM but I was using 115’s machine, which has a vacuum instead of compressed air, and before that 299’s machine, which has neither vacuum nor compressed air. Clearing chips started to become an issue the deeper I went for slotting. In any case it was quite fast and left a fairly good finish and an accurate hole.
Boring 0.196" holes at 40 IPM and a 0.04" stepdown was awesome. Bored the holes almost as fast as a drill (~2 seconds per hole for 1/4" plate).


Wow that sounds awesome. You’ve got to give a link to a souse for those. We have been using HSS 3/16" diameter 1/4" shank up-cut single spiral flute for aluminum from Amana Tool. part #HSS1621 we get them for about $7 I think. We cut 1/8" DOC and 0.07" stepover at 40-50 IPM and ~15000 RPM. They’re nothing crazy good. But 3 or 4 of them have lasted us so far this season, and we have easily created 20 lbs of chips on our router this year.


Cross linking to a discussion on the WorkBee CNC Kit from another thread. Please keep all posts about it in it’s thread.

A cheap 1.5mx1.5m router that would be good for light duty work,


What would you say differentiates this from a Shapeoko 3? It looks like a clone but I’m not sure.


Shapeoko looks to be designed a bit stiffer, less cantilevering of the plates.


So 5987 is looking to get a CNC router this summer. Since we have to deal with the hassle of shipping whatever we’re buying to Israel, we’ve pretty much come down to either buying a PRO4848 from CNCRouterParts with their NEMA 23 electronics kit and 2.2kW VFD spindle or some variant of a 1212 machine from China.

The 1212s are half the price and proport to be the same if not better as the American models. I’ve read some good reviews of the CNCRouterParts machine, but I haven’t heard anything about these Chinese routers. This video was posted by the makers of one of the models, showing it cut through pretty thick aluminum at a decent speed. Personally I’m a bit skeptical of these machines’ ability to cut aluminum, but some of the members of my team want to trust them. I would really like to hear at least one FRC team’s good experiences with these routers before spending a few thousand dollars on what could end up being a very large paperweight.

(Also if anyone wants to share a good Chinese source for single flute endmills so we don’t have to import them from America through WCP, it would be very appreciated)


The edge quality on those cuts makes me think that it must be losing significant accuracy due to the bit jumping around. The flakes on the top look almost as bad as cutting 6063. Though he’s using a 2 or 3 flute bit which probably isn’t helping.
Though the cuts with the coolant do look a lot better.


Here’s a smaller variant of the 1212 a 6090 with linear guideways cutting 6061-T6 with a 6mm single flute, .25" DOC at 35-40 IPM with a 3mm step over and no coolant. . This was just a roughing pass so I didn’t really care about surface finish, just wanted to see how fast I could push it.


Any chance you can give a link for the one you bought? I’ve seen some pretty crazy claims from Chinese 1212s (e.g. $3k router that cuts aluminum at 1200ipm), so I’d like to get some more reasonable numbers for what to expect.

Also, I saw you posted here a while ago that you had a good source for Chinese aluminum single flute endmills. I send you a PM, but if you wouldn’t mind sharing the source I would really appreciate it.


Has anyone looked at Maslow?

I realize it’s just wood in the picture. Still very interesting.


Based on advice from this thread we prioritized a Bridgeport mill this past year, which is now installed and immediately became the go to tool for our fabrication. Our next step is a CNC router. We received $4,300 in funding with a plan to implement the following.

Item Price
Omio X8-2200l Shipped $3,314.16
Fogbuster coolant system $406.00
Air compressor $292.00
Air hose and fittings $100.00
Vise Clamps $198.00
Celtec Expanded PVC .75" $250.00
Fly cutter $200.00
Onsrud carbide single flute cutters $200.00
Spot drill $10.00
Drill bits $20.00
laptop $400.00
ER20 Collets $100.00
Total $5,490.16

My questions.
I recall the Omio has a potential grounding issue. Can you help me on this?
Anyone have experience with California Air compressors? I like that it is quiet. Is 3.1CFM at 40psi/2.2CFM at 90psi sufficient for tool air?
Do you feel the mist coolant is necessary and/or desirable?
Anything I have left out? (FYI, we do have a table/stand for the router)
Any other features or items I should budget.

We are in process on CAD/CAM flow. Last year, we had access to a HAAS mill and did Solidworks CAD for parts and assembly, imported to Inventor and used HSM for CAM, which would export to MACH3 for the router. Upside is that we can use tabs, which we like. Downside is students have to learn some Inventor to use HSM and we haven’t found a part nesting capability. Comments and recommendations welcome.


Very desirable.

Any other features or items I should budget.
You have ER20s on the list, but I really love our ER16 quick-change collet set - we have three tool holders with half inch shanks, so we can have three tools set up and swap between them without re-zeroing (as long as the offsets are in Mach3).

We are in process on CAD/CAM flow. Last year, we had access to a HAAS mill and did Solidworks CAD for parts and assembly, imported to Inventor and used HSM for CAM, which would export to MACH3 for the router. Upside is that we can use tabs, which we like. Downside is students have to learn some Inventor to use HSM and we haven’t found a part nesting capability. Comments and recommendations welcome.
We use the HSMWorks Solidworks integration, instead of the Inventor HSM integration, in order to reduce the number of software packages in our tool chain. You can get it for free from your AutoDesk sponsorship, they just don’t like to advertise it. I haven’t figured out how to do tabs in it though :frowning:


+1 to mist cooling, get some of that pressurized air to clear out chips. Critical for a router doing slotting.
I used to use HSMworks but gave up after it refused to tab and had some other weird bugs. It also lacks certain features that I can’t recall at the moment. It’s not unusable, but it’s not as nice of an experience as other options. If you do the drill holes -> screw down -> cut out method for making parts, then HSMworks for Solidworks can do fine.
1072 uses Fusion, because we use OnShape for CAD and need a 3rd-party CAM software anyway. Fusion offers smarter options for all the menus compared to HSMworks, although I can’t remember exactly which ones. I’ve heard great things about MasterCAM too, but getting more than a single license donated is difficult. Plus, it’s got a steep learning curve compared to Fusion or HSMworks.