Stone Routers: Edge Your Stone Slabs with Precision and Ease
A stone router is an essential piece of machinery that profiles and polishes the edges of marble, granite, concrete, and other stones used for table tops, countertops, and other decorative furniture. Smaller fabricators are typically equipped with a compact, handheld router, while larger ones use Computer Numerical Control (CNC) routers which are full size machines that can run hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tait Sales & Consulting (TSC) sells a variety of portable stone routers as well as the diamond CNC bits and accessories for stationary machines.
Stone Routers: How Do They Operate?
Countertop fabricators use a stone router to shape the edge of the stone slab into specific profiles. The customer can choose from a variety of shapes for the edge of their countertop. Profiles such as bullnose, half bullnose, waterfall, ogee, Dupont, cove, eased edge, bevel and many others are often available. Standard curves to intricate shapes can be created. The fabricator chooses a specific diamond router bit based on the desired edge to create a unique countertop for the consumer.
What Makes Stone Hand-held Routers Unique?
The hand-held machines differ from Stone CNC routers due to the following:
- They are lightweight and portable
- Most can plug into a standard 110v receptacle
- They glide on the stone surface so the diamond tool remains level to the edge. This ensures a level profile along the entire edge.
- They are much less expensive than a CNC machine.
- They do not require any computer programming.
- Anyone can use one
What Makes Stone CNC Routers Unique?
The Stone CNC routers differ from hand-helds in many ways:
- They are lightweight and portable
- They can be very expensive
- They are not portable
- The stone sits on the machine bed and the machine spindle moves around the slab
- The stone slab must be level to the machine bed for the profile to be correct
- The machine must be programmed with CAD
- Operator must be trained to use the machine
- Machines range from 5-axis up to 8 and 9 axis machines.
What Methods of Engraving Tooling Does a Stone Router Machine Employ?
- Flat Carving: This is where images are carved, or photos are recessed, or drawn onto them, then carving on the stone takes place to finish the image.
- Relief: A two-dimensional remove the rest and keep the image type of picture on the surface. It is a type of carving combination of painting and sculpture. Compression is used to work with objects and is used mainly in architecture and is found on most utensils, but it is seen as a decor for table tops for the kitchen or bathroom.
- Round Sculpture: This is a three-dimensional object. It is a piece that is seen from all different angles, and it is worked from the bottom, top, middle, left and right sides, the front, and back. These are the various sculptures done with the router machine: rack and large scale, indoor and outdoor, concrete and abstract, decorative and realistic. These are found indoors, in gardens, or fountain areas.
- Shadow Sculpture: The image is made like a photograph picture. The stone is polished by water, and the image is drawn and carved into the polished area. Its use is meant to last a long time without fading.
What are the Various Configurations of a Stone Router?
The configurations of the CNC routers deal with the models, brand, specs, quantity, and number of components. It states everything there is to know about the machine, from its highest point to the lowest and everything in between.
- Low Configuration: The bottom frame, AKA the "shelf." It is a platform for the machine and is used like a table.
- Medium Configuration: The X and Z axis is supported by the crossbeam, fixing, and supporting parts.
- High Configuration: The machine head where all things are processed and positioned.
What are the Structural Features of the Best Stone Routers?
Stone CNC routers have a V-Touch Pendant controller, making the machine easier to use with a touchscreen system. These are some of the structural features:
- Machined table to very high tolerance
- Water halo to cool the diamond bits
- Optional Blade Motor for saw blades
- High speed spindle (either belt driven or Electro spindle)
- Parts stocked close by
- Structural Steel Gantry Beam
- Welded Steel Frame
How Do You Select the Best Stone Router?
Before choosing a suitable stone router, there are a few things to know. Knowing the budget and where to look for the correct prices is necessary. The users should know the features they need the most on the machine. The CNC machines have many more options because they do more than a router. Sometimes the portable one works the best in its simplicity if it is all needed for a project.
Knowing what is required for the job and if the machine will make the best results possible for the finished piece is critical. The working parts should also come naturally, whether they are using the current part or if they need to switch out to handle another task. If it is used for a business with multiple workers, it needs to be easily accessible, and the workers will need to know how to operate the machine, whether it is portable or a CNC machine.
How Much Does a Stone Router Cost?
The prices depend on the features, specs and whether the machine is portable or CNC. Costs average from $70,000 to $450,000+ for CNC machines. Portable machines average from $1,500 to $6,000.
What is the Best Way to Buy a Stone Router?
The buyer should have a checklist of what they want to accomplish with the machine. They can take that list and sit down with a sales consultant to see what machines would benefit their company most.
Researching beforehand will give a clearer picture of what the buyer wants. There are several guides to the specs of different machines and lots of reviews from users to make an educated decision.
Through this process of research and consulting with a sales rep, the user can have the suitable machine for the right job, and with maintenance, the device will pay for itself with the jobs put forth in front of it.
What is the Proper Method for Maintaining a Stone Router?
There are at least five essential things a person can do to keep up with the maintenance of a stone router.
- Check the lubrication and water circulation system. Ensure it shows normal, especially in colder temperatures. Never let the machine fall below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep up with the spindle temperature, and do not let it overheat.
- Ensure adequate grounding and remove as much static interference as possible to protect the user and the machine.
- Keep a sound ventilation system in the workshop area and ensure no water droplets on the stone router cause rust.
- Lube all bearing and gantry tracks
- Ensure bellows are not cracked so that moisture and dust stay off the tracks
A full list of maintenance procedures will be provided with the machine.
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