Any manufacturing process has an impact on the environment, and CNC routing is no different. But it is possible to reduce the impact of the process.

The best way to reduce the impact of any industrial process is to complete the task just once. So the first step to a ‘greener’ processes is in ensuring the project is scoped, planned and set up on the CNC correctly. Make sure the CAD drawings are correct and that the software has been programmed correctly, materials and tools correctly selected. If the process needs to be repeated the extra energy used and material consumed will increase the environmental impact and that can be avoided with expertise and planning.

Minimising energy use is a smart idea. Not only is it good for the environment, it will reduce production costs. So if you are commissioning CNC routing, check the energy-efficiency of the machine used. Newer and maintained kit is likely to be more energy efficient, but that is only the beginning of the story.

Individual features on the CNC router can also impact on energy use. So for example machine manufacturer Zund claim the integrated vacuum generator on their G3 cutting system delivers only as much vacuum as any given cutting or CNC routing application needs “thus dramatically reducing overall energy consumption”

In addition the unique modularity of G3 means the mass that needs to be moved for each cutting operation can be optimised for further energy savings. The Multi Tool System means tooling is done quickly and precisely – again reducing energy use.

Sustainability after CNC Routing

The energy-efficiency of the CNC as well as the project preparation play the most important role in reducing the environmental impact of the project, but it does not end there. Consideration should be given to how material is selected and any waste product is managed. Is the material used sourced ethically with traceable supply chain provenance? Is waste acrylic, for example, recycled? And how is the completed project delivered and stored? Does the manufacturer look to use carbon-neutral delivery options? More generally, does the supplier look to minimise their impact on environment across all their activities?

When choosing a supplier to provide your CNC requirements, talk to them about making the project as ‘green’ as possible.

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