Set up guide for the CNC router

Autocad is the only drawing program that works accurately for use with the School CNC router.  Please refer to the guide below on how best to set up for routing. Further inquiries should be made to the workshop. Phone: 522 78357.


It is best to book in a day prior to having your project machined so it can be checked in toolpath for any problems that need correcting before cutting. Costs are involved in using the router, the workshop staff will give you an accurate price when you have it checked. Please note the workshop can be very  busy at  times, particularly when there are set class projects. View information on how to make a booking.

Sheet sizes

  • Maximum Sheet Size – 2400mm x 1200mm
  • Minimum Sheet Size – 1200mm x 1200mm

Tips for drawing set up

  • Drawing has to be 2D 1:1, R12DXF (the router operates only on R12DXF files)
  • All drawings are to be done on a 2400mm x 1200mm sheet.
  • No other objects can be shown outside your 2400mm x 1200mm sheet.
  • Your file for the router can only show the 2400x1200 sheet and the cut-outs inside it.
  • Minimum distance from edge of sheet to cut-outs is 50mm.
  • Minimum distance from cut out to cut out is 20mm.
  • To stop the sheet disintegrating these distances are important for job quality.
  • All shapes have to be enclosed and joined polylines.
  • Toolpath, the program which runs the router, only recognizes enclosed or joined shapes drawn as polylines. This also gives the operator the ability to make the machine cut either inside or outside the shape. There can be up to 0.4mm error on the size of cut-outs. It is the students responsibility to produce a fully operational drawing.
  • All single lines will be cut as centre lines.
  • As a single line is not a shape, the machine will only cut that line using it as a centre line for the cut.
  • Smallest shape that can be cut out successfully is 150mm x150mm.
  • Sometimes cut-outs have to be tabbed to help hold them to the table when being cut.
  • To stop movement on the table, it is fitted with a vacuum that hold your cut-outs down, but if they are too small they can move. To stop this, the operator can tab your cut-outs to the main sheet.
  • Shapes smaller than this will be cut on the Laser.
  • These shapes will have to be placed on a 600mmx400mm sheet. Be aware the laser only cuts up to 9mm thickness.
  • Make sure it is a single line drawing.
  • Toolpath will recognise double lines and double shapes and will not process them to be cut. If they are on your drawing, you will have to be remove them before the cutting process can commence.
  • Drawings converted from other drawing programs do not work successfully.
  • Toolpath recognizes drawings that are drawn as a 2d autocad drawing.
  • Microstation and 3D drawings converted to autocad can give DXF errors that make your file inoperable.
  • Depth set ups are done  with the student present.
  • When saving your drawing, save it as a R12DXF file.

drawing set up in program example

Cutter sizes

  • 3mm cutter – 3mm and 6mm material
  • 4.5mm cutter- 3mm to 12mm material
  • 6mm cutter –   3mm to 32mm material

Router materials

Materials that can be cut or engraved by the router

  • MDF
  • Ply
  • Acrylics
  • Aluminum

Materials available for purchase from the workshop

  • MDF – 3mm, 6mm, 9mm
  • Strawboard – 1mm, 2mm
  • White pasteboard – 1mm, 2mm
  • Balsa Wood – 3mm, 5mm

Materials for reuse

After major clean ups some materials are suitable for reuse. Always check the Model Assembly Area, as this is where it is stored. There is no charge for this material.

Last updated:
Page custodian: Faculty of Science, Engineering & Built Environment