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CNC router cutting case inserts. Batch manufacturing

CNC routing: Manufacturing foam with precision & efficiency

CNC routing: Manufacturing foam with precision & efficiency

Discover the power of CNC routing for foam materials

In the evolving world of manufacturing, precision and efficiency are key. One technology that has significantly transformed the landscape is CNC routing. Understanding the capabilities and benefits of CNC routing is essential for those of us who work in manufacturing. Here, we delve into the intricacies of CNC routing, its applications, and why it’s a game-changer for modern manufacturing.

What is CNC routing?

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) routing involves the use of computer-controlled machines to perform precise cutting, drilling, and shaping tasks. These machines, akin to drills, can move in multiple directions to create intricate designs and components. Unlike traditional drills that only cut up and down, CNC routers can operate forwards, backwards, and sideways, machining slots, pockets, and profiles with remarkable accuracy.

At Kewell Converters, we utilise state-of-the-art CNC routers for machining foam materials, delivering precision and consistency.

Our CNC routers

Kewell Converters boasts a fleet of advanced CNC routers, each with unique capabilities tailored to different projects.

Thermwood #67 Router

  • Type: Single-headed, twin spindal, 5-axis machine
  • Bed size: 3000mm x 1500mm
  • Ideal for: Samples, R&D, and small production runs
  • Special feature: Can machine surfaces for complex geometries

Thermwood #40 Router

  • Type: Twin-head machine
  • Ideal for: Medium production runs
  • Efficiency: Machines two parts simultaneously, doubling the speed of the #67 router

Thermwood #42 Router

  • Type: Four-headed machine (rare in the UK)
  • Ideal for: Large production runs
  • Efficiency: Machines four parts simultaneously, quadrupling the speed of the #67 router

Materials and versatility

Our CNC routers are capable of machining many different types of foam materials we process at Kewell Converters. This versatility ensures that we can cater to a wide range of projects and requirements. Materials like polyurethane foam, EVA foam, and polyethylene sheet are easily shaped by CNC routers, allowing for rapid creation and iteration of designs.

Benefits of CNC routing

The advantages of CNC routing are manifold:

  • Versatility: Our routers can handle complex and intricate parts from customer drawings and CAD drawings generated by our design team
  • Efficiency: Automated tool changes and multiple heads significantly reduce machining times, meaning quick turnaround
  • Precision: High accuracy in cutting and shaping ensures consistent quality
  • Cost-effectiveness: Once a programme is created, it can be replicated endlessly, making it ideal for small and large production runs
  • Environmentally friendly: Powered by electricity and supported by solar panels, our routers operate sustainably as we leverage eco-friendly power and use voltage optimisation. They also don’t emit any waste or fumes.

With three CNC routers offering different capabilities, we can tackle a diverse array of projects with precision and efficiency.

Common uses of CNC routers

The most common material processed using CNC routing is closed cell polyethylene foam.  This is often referred to as LDPE, low density, or HDPE, high density, and also includes the stronger cross linked closed cell polyethylene foam (XLPE or XPE) type.

One of the primary applications of our CNC routers is producing foam case inserts. This process involves machining various shapes and size pockets into foam, tailored to customer specifications. The precision and versatility of CNC routing make it an ideal solution for this requirement. CNC cut foam inserts are ideal for storing, displaying and transporting industrial tools, medical instruments, promotional items, and any objects that require product protection. The design allows the foam to fit precisely around the item so there’s no movement minimising damage.

However, CNC routing isn’t just confined to case inserts; it’s used to create a variety of products, including aircraft parts, medical aid shapes, vehicle parts, and across every industry. Our CNC machines can cut and drill foam to any shape or part needed.

Is CNC routing expensive?

CNC routing is a popular process we use for hundreds of projects each year due to its efficiency. The ability to replicate designs repeatedly after creating a programme makes it cost-effective for manufacturing foam parts, be it for small production runs or large, one-off pieces.

Specialist skills required

Operating CNC routers requires specialist skills. Our operators have extensive experience undergoing vast training so they master the intricacies of the machines. This training takes them from tooling and production fixture set up, to component inspection and sign off.

Factors affecting CNC routing performance

The performance of routers in machining foam materials is influenced by:

  • Material type: Closed cell cross-linked PE foam give the best results, whilst open cell PU results are very different
  • Material density: Softer materials can be challenging to machine
  • Part size: Smaller parts can be dislodged from the table during routing, and they can’t create deep holes and slots which is why we have a vast range of machines including the water jet machines for use on more intricate projects

Five decades of CNC routing excellence

With a five-decade track record, Kewell Converters has established itself as a leader in CNC routing for clients across the military, aviation, and industrial sectors. Our advanced machines and skilled operators ensure that we can meet the most demanding project requirements with precision and efficiency.

In conclusion, CNC routing is a transformative technology that offers unparalleled precision, efficiency, and versatility. Whether you’re a purchasing manager, supply chain manager, or operations manager, understanding the capabilities and benefits of CNC routing can help you make informed decisions that drive your business forward. At Kewell Converters, we’re committed to delivering excellence in every project we undertake.

For more information on our CNC routing services or to discuss your project requirements, email Kewell Converters today. Let us help you revolutionise your manufacturing processes with the power of CNC routing.


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