The benefits of using a vacuum bed on an AXYZ CNC router

During the early days of CNC routing, most machine held the material down with a variety of clamps, and in some cases the material would be screwed down to the bed. While this technique does provide material security it still allows movements of parts during the cutting process, which inevitably damage cut quality.

At AXYZ we recommend using a vacuum pump or blower. This way the material remains securely in place throughout the entire cutting process.

The distinction between using a pump or blower is often dependent on what type of material you are cutting. If the material is non-porous, then you would use a pump to create deep vacuum pressure. However, if your material is porous such as packaging foam, then the blower would be used to drag as much air through the material as possible.

Both of these options are plumbed into the underside of an AXYZ CNC Router and the air flows through the sacrificial bed.

All AXYZ CNC Routers come with an aluminum vacuum deck as standard. This allows the vacuum to spread across the entire process areas. The vacuum deck is split into several zones to allow vacuum zones to be closed or opened manually or through the auto zone management application. This application will open and close zones dependent on the live position of the cutting head, ensuring optimal vacuum hold down on all material being processed.

A sacrificial bed is placed on top of the aluminum vacuum deck. We recommend using general purpose MDF;

  1. It’s cheap
  2. It’s widely available
  3. It produces very little wear on tooling.
  4. Most importantly, it’s extremely porous material allowing maximum air flow.

You can use almost any thickness of MDF, from 4mm up to 25mm. There are two ways to attach your MDF, firstly you can lay the material on the bed and use the vacuum hold down to keep it secure, or you can mechanically fix it in position, although this can only be done with thicker MDF.

Naturally, when processing material you will mark the surface of the MDF, unfortunately this will eventually cause vacuum bleed. With a mechanically fixed sacrificial bed, you can skim the surface to ensure a consistent bed height.

If you are replacing your sacrificial bed make sure there is no swarf or debris between the aluminum vacuum deck and your new piece of MDF. The same can be said when replacing the material for cutting.

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