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The computer numerical control (CNC) flatbed router is a powerful tool and a must-have piece of equipment for any technology education program in which students will produce a product--whether it involves Manufacturing, Materials Processing, or any of the vast array of Project Lead the Way courses. This article describes an activity--producing a CNC "widget"--which works well for introducing students from middle school through college level to the machine. In essence, students will independently design and assemble a multiple-part, tab-and-slot-interlocking product from a flat material (24" x 24") utilizing CAD software, CAM software and the CNC flatbed router. The activity generally runs a week or two. It gives students a good glimpse of the flatbed router's unlimited possibilities and applications. The CNC widget project is easy on the instructor. It does not take huge amounts of preparation to get students working, and the resulting learning experience pays big dividends.
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