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How Does an Automatic Tool Changer Work?

Publish Date: Apr. 12, 2023 Author: Jackie Publisher: EagleTec CNC Modify Date: Apr. 12, 2023

Auto tool changer cnc router is a typical category of CNC machine, representing more advanced cnc technology. The machine can choose different router bits when milling complex patterns according to the control system's command. An ATC cnc router can automatically change the required router bits while processing the workpiece without stopping the work. This significantly improves production efficiency and increases factory revenue.


CNC routers with auto tool changing functions have two types: one is spindle shift cnc router, and the other is ATC cnc router. Let EagleTec CNC explain to you in detail how the automatic tool changer works.

Spindle shift tool changer cnc router

A spindle shift cnc router is a cnc router with multiple spindles(usually three or four)on the machine beam. And each spindle is equipped with an independent cylinder. By controlling the cylinder, the system can switch the spindles. The system gives a signal, and the cylinder pushes out the required spindle. After the mill/cut is completed, the cylinder lifts the spindle, and the next cylinder accepts the instruction to start working until all cutting, engraving, and milling works are completed. 

This cnc router is suitable for woodwork whose processing needs three or four router bits to finish, such as simple design doors, cabinet doors, etc. For complex design furniture making that requires more than 4 different bits to complete, an ATC cnc router is essential.

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ATC CNC Router 

Unlike the spindle shift cnc router, the ATC CNC realizes auto tool changing action using an ATC spindle. Compared with the standard electric spindle, the rear end of the ATC spindle is a cylinder structure. Inside, the cylinder uses air pressure to push the thimble against the central tie rod to make the tool taper extend outward so that the tool falls off. Then it uses a electromagnetic valve to release the air pressure and cut off the air so that the tool is clamped. Then the CNC machine automatically grabs the required tool taper as per the instructions of the G-code.

There is a tool magazine at the rear end of the machine bed, which can usually accommodate 6-12 knives.


The control system of the ATC cnc router is Syntec or Weihong, which supports the auto tool change function. Through computer control, set the tool change command, and the system reads the code(usually T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6… T refers to different tools). T1 work is completed; the spindle moves to the tool magazine to release T1 and clamp T2 and continues to execute the T2 command. This process is repeated until all work is done.


Manual tool change is a time-consuming process because the height of the tool changes after the tool change, so the upper and lower altitudes must be re-checked after each tool change. Automatic tool changer CNC Router can eliminate this procedure. ATC cnc router reduces manual tool change time and improves machine efficiency and production capacity. Usually, to produce a wooden door with a complex shape, we need to use 6 or more router bits. For furniture or musical instrument manufacturers, a cnc router with an auto tool-changing function is powerful.

Suppose you are looking for a high-quality ATC cnc router manufacturer; welcome to contact EagleTec CNC. Our sales and technical staff are always here to provide the most professional woodworking solutions.

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Small cnc router with tool changer

Original Post from EagleTec CNC

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