ATTENTION: Ball State CNC Router services are on hold until further notice. Please contact Colby Gray,, with questions.




How to use CNC Routers at CAP

You have two pathways to utilizing the CNC Routers at CAP.

Option 1: Become certified to program and/or operate the CNC Routers
The first option is to become trained on the tool path programming process and learn how to operate the CNC routers. Students, faculty, or staff who complete the makercorps CNC router training, pass assessments, and demonstrate competency in programming their own files will have free reservation-based access to the CNC resources during staffed hours. Makercorps staff who have completed all trainings and certifications have free on-demand access as the schedule permits.

Step 1 Register for makercorps Module 8 when it becomes available.
Step 2 Work with CNC trainers to schedule your three onboarding sessions.
Step 3 Complete tasks and assessments leading to certification.

Option 2: Pay for CNC services
The second option is to work with the makercorps team on a fee basis to execute your project. In order to be eligible for this service you must complete the makercorps CNC router module (Module 8) intro sessions.

Review the following steps and see more information about option 2 listed below. Complete CNC router Policies and Procedures are listed at the bottom of this page.

Step 1 Review our CNC Milling Guide and sign-up for Module 8 when it becomes available.
Step 2 Submit a CNC Routing Request (see button below).
Step 3 If necessary, meet with a makercorps team member to discuss the project.
Step 4 Once the project is programmed, you will review the cut time estimate and give us authorization to proceed.
Step 5 Confirm scheduled run time and drop off materials.
Step 6 Pick up project and complete payment.

Router Services
There is a base fee of $25 dollars for a makercorps team member to program your cut files. More complex projects involving consultation, redesign, or multiple tool path programming could result in programming fees exceeding $100 dollars. Once programmed, run times will be billed by-hour at rates ranging from $12.00- $36.00 dollars per hour. While profile and pocket tool paths are relatively quick, typical topography projects run one to two hours long on average per cut file. The average cost for a relatively simple request is $35.00. We will provide you a formal run time estimate following the programming phase of the CNC project and ask you for your authorization to proceed at that time. A final bill will be provided once the project is completed.

Our goal is to review your project request within two business days from initial in-take. Our in-take process occurs at 11:00am Monday through Friday.

If necessary, we will set up a time to meet with you and discuss your project. You may need to make some changes to the 3D model based on the feedback you receive.

Once we program your cut file we will provide you an estimate for total job run time. Once we receive your authorization to proceed we will provide you an estimated completion date. While our goal is to run the project within seven days of your authorization to proceed, the estimated completion dates will vary significantly from request to request. Project turnaround time is dependent on complexity, employee availability, and demand.

Material Drop Off

  1. For smaller projects (those that can be moved in their entirety by one person in one trip):
    1. Drop off materials prior to your scheduled run time.
    2. Pick up your completed project during after scheduled run time.
  2. For larger projects (those that require more than one person or more than one trip to move):
    1. Show up at the scheduled run time with your materials.
    2. Remain outside the lab or in the building (with access to cell phone) to receive completed project.

Free Option
As mentioned, students, faculty, and staff who complete the makercorps CNC router training, pass assessments, and demonstrate capacity to program their own files will have free reservation-based access to the CNC resources during staffed hours. Makercorps staff who have completed all trainings and certifications have free on-demand access as scheduling permits.

For more information on our pricing, training, and employment opportunities email

See the CNC Routing Policies and Procedures below for complete details.

Other Resources

Here are some helpful introductory materials related to CNC routing. These are all from other schools and shops, but they introduce important concepts that apply even though some details will vary.

CNC Routing Request Form

Your geometry/model must be reviewed by a Fab Lab employee before we can schedule your project. If necessary, we will set up a Consultation Session and work to ensure your geometry is ready for printing.


Click here to create a new CNC Routing Request  

Note that beginning Spring 2022 all CNC Routing Requests will be handled through the CAP Digital Fabrication Service Request form within the BSU Helpdesk system. Click the button above to open the form.


CNC Routing Policies and Procedures

CAP offers training and fee based CNC routing services to CAP students, faculty, and staff in order to provide access to and literacy of advanced fabrication tools. The following policies and procedures are designed ensure this access. For the purposes of this document all users of CAP digital fabrication (D-Fab) services are called clients, including faculty, staff and students.

1. Requests
a. Clients who have not used CAP’s CNC routing services before must complete the makercorps CNC router module (Module 8). This module will introduce you to the technology and basic requirements and considerations when preparing geometry for CNC routing.
b. Faculty considering CNC routing as a suggested or required element of a class or studio project are encouraged to contact the Lab Manager or a staff member prior to assigning the project. We will provide important information about CNC routing constraints (machine size, geometry limitations, typical job duration, etc.) and the feasibility of accommodating the CNC routing request volume that may result of this spike in demand. As mentioned, all Clients are required to complete the makercorps CNC router Module and staff members are available to provide the introductory sessions to classes and studio sections upon request.
c. Client requests for  CNC use or routing services initiate a geometry and programming review process. Routing cannot be scheduled until (a) geometry is reviewed, (b) the Client resolves any issues with the geometry, and/or (c) the Client gives authorization to proceed after reviewing run time cost-estimates. Clients can make requests via the request form available online on the CAP Fab Lab website (below).
d. Clients must make router requests well in advance of due dates to ensure that the requests can be processed and scheduled within an acceptable timeframe. Normally a 3-4 business day turnaround can be accommodated; however, during crunch times or low staff loading clients are advised to submit requests at least business 7 days in advance. A business day is Monday – Friday and starts at 11:00am during our in-take sessions.

2. Review
a. Geometry
i. All routing geometry must be reviewed by a staff member before a reservation can be scheduled.
ii. Clients can arrange remote review of geometry with a staff member. Remote review will require that the client can connect to an online meeting for screen sharing and audio during consultation. Alternatively, remote review over email is possible but will necessarily take longer.
iii. Requirements for routing geometry are less stringent than for 3D printing (closed volumes are not required), but bad meshes and the like can still cause problems that may require the client to make corrections.
iv. Valid geometry does not necessarily mean that the geometry can be utilized. Staff members are trained to understand the capabilities of the routers and have the right to deny requests if deemed unsafe or highly impractical. In such cases the staff member will make recommendations for alternative fabrication approaches. If a client believes a staff member is unreasonably denying a request, the Lab Manager should be contacted for resolution.
b. Materials
i. Clients are responsible for supplying all of their own materials.
ii. Only NEW materials may be used on the routers. Pallets, skids, packing crates and any stock which may contain nails, staples or other fasteners are NOT considered “new.”
iii. Only DRY materials may be used on the routers. Moisture from wet or damp materials is quickly absorbed by the MDF spoil board on the bed, causing it to warp and negatively impact routing operations.
iv. Permitted materials include wood (softwoods, hardwoods), wood products (MDF, particle board, hardboard, OSB, plywood), foam (XPS, EPS, HDF), and certain plastics (acrylic, polycarbonate, HDPE). Other materials require special permission or arrangement.
v. The maximum thickness (height) for any material or laminated composite is 8 inches. The maximum thickness for through-cuts or cut-outs is 3 inches.
vi. All glued/laminated items must cure or set for 24 hours before being used on any of the machines. Glue must be spread evenly and be allowed to fully cure to prevent delamination during the routing process.

3. Queues and Scheduling
a. We reserve the right to deny non-CAP affiliated CNC requests in order to manage our resources effectively in service of CAP-affiliated clients.
b. Reviewed and accepted CNC requests will be processed in the order they are received; however, constraints related to job size, availability and staff availability may result in newer jobs that are shorter or smaller being processed before older jobs that are longer or larger.
c. Staff members will work with clients to schedule a mutually acceptable time to run the job.
d. Staff will do their best to accommodate client “needed by” dates but can make no guarantees due to constraints including lab availability, staff availability and expected job duration. If a job cannot be completed by client’s “needed by” date, the client will be notified as soon as possible.
e. Changes to geometry or materials after a job is scheduled may introduce delays and require rescheduling the job. CNC routing is a complex fabrication process that involves a high number of variables and requires substantial effort to set up. It may take 1-2 hours (prior to the scheduled routing appointment) to program the toolpaths for a given job. Changes after setup may render completed programming useless and require additional setup time.

4. Expectations
a. Clients will be notified of the time scheduled to process client’s request.
b. Staff can make no guarantees about the success of a given routing operation. Staff members are trained but are not professionals. They will make every effort to set up a job to avoid any problems. They will, to the best of their abilities, identify any potential issues and communicate them to clients before starting a job; however, not all failures can be predicted. Please consider purchasing and/or preparing extra material in case of a failure that is not recoverable.
c. Clients will be responsible for any material costs associated with a failed job unless the failure is directly related to an issue with the associated machine(s) or if a staff member has clearly been negligent in setting up a job. If a client believes a staff member has been negligent, the Lab Manager should be contacted for resolution.
d. By making a CNC routing request, clients assume the risk of job failure in terms of both material cost and time for any failure due to client error not reasonably detectable by a staff member.
e. Staff will run and/or supervise all jobs on behalf of clients.
f. Clients must be present during large jobs. Large jobs are defined as jobs whose entire results cannot be moved by one person in one trip. In such cases client must be present to receive results of job as each major component is completed unless other arrangements are made ahead of time.
g. Clients not present during the run time of small jobs must arrange a pickup time.
i. Pick up occurs at an individually arranged times. To arrange a pickup time, client must respond to the notification they receive when their job is scheduled to request an individual pickup time.

5. Safety
a. The Lab Manager has the authority to halt unsafe operations at any time. The manager will enforce these rules and limit client access to equipment if clients are carelessly using the facility in a way that would cause injury to themselves or others. The manager has the authority to restrict client use of any tool or machine if they habitually ignore safety precautions in the lab.
b. Staff members and trained faculty are the only people authorized to interact directly with the equipment in the lab.
c. Clients will not be permitted to enter the CNC Lab except during job pickup.
d. Staff Safety
i. Eye Protection:
1. Safety glasses or a face shield must be worn at all times when working in the CNC lab.
2. Safety glasses are provided by the shop for your use. Face shields can be checked out from the woodshop.
ii. Ear Protection:
1. Ear muffs or foam ear plugs should be worn by all individuals in the lab when the routers, dust collector or vacuum are in use.
2. Ear muffs and foam ear plugs are provided by the shop for your use.
3. Ear buds and headphones are NOT acceptable as hearing protection.
iii. Lung Protection:
1. Face masks (N95-grade) must be worn during and after routing and when handling sawdust.
iv. Footwear:
1. Closed-toe shoes must be worn at all times in all shop areas.
2. Flip-flops and sandals are not appropriate footwear for the shop.
3. Clients with inappropriate footwear will be asked to leave the facility and return with proper footwear.
v. Clothing/Personal Attire:
1. Loose fitting clothing, including garments with long, flowing sleeves, neck ties, and scarves are not permitted in the shop. Dangling strings on
“hoodies” must be tucked in shirt.
2. Long hair must be tied back. Loose jewelry such as long necklaces and bracelets must not be worn in the shop.
e. Tool and Equipment Safety
i. Routers
1. Always remain clear of the machine by staying outside the caution tape applied to the floor. Do not stand between the machine and the machine
controller—this is a potential pinch point. The machine is not aware of your presence and could crush you.
2. Never reach into the machine envelope while the machine is running. Never assume that you know where it will move next.
ii. Ventilation:
1. Keep the lab well ventilated.
2. If the dust collector cannot be used for a given project the loading dock door must be opened to allow for air exchange.
iii. Compressed Air:
1. Never point a compressed air gun at another person.
2. Never use compressed air to clean skin, clothing or hair.
iv. Shop-Vac:
1. Use broom/brush and dust pan first to clean up bulk sawdust/debris.
2. Do not use the Shop-Vac for any sawdust/debris that may be hot to avoid the risk of fire (which has happened in the past).
g. Report ANY injuries to the lab manager or assistant immediately.



Click here to create a new CNC Routing Request  

Note that beginning Spring 2022 all CNC Routing Requests will be handled through the CAP Digital Fabrication Service Request form within the BSU Helpdesk system. Click the button above to open the form.