Those in the know fully understand that CNC routers are fantastic machines.
They allow the user to bring life to their designs very quickly indeed. A good CNC router offers precision cutting with speed, and these days at a very affordable price.
So what is the best CNC machine for home or small workshop use? That’s exactly what we will look into today.
In this article we have taken an in depth look at 5 excellent tools.
For our findings at a glance, just turn to the table below. For a review of each CNC router, plus a dedicated buyer’s guide, keep on reading.
- The Best CNC Machine Router Kit in 2020 (Top 5 Reviewed)
- Our Top 5 Picks for CNC Routes
- E3 CNC Router Engraver Kit with DeWalt DW660 Router (450mm x 390mm )
- The CNC Piranha FX
- Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO
- VEVOR CNC Router 3020T 3 Axis CNC Router Machine
- Upgraded Version CNC 3018 Pro
- Best CNC Machine Buyer’s Guide
Now we come to the in depth reviews of each of our top 5 pick CNC routers. As stated above, we have focused on the best home CNC machines for this round up. The following routers are ideal for small workshop use.
This is fairly the top option on this list of best CNC router machines. This is the most trusted and praised CNC router by customers on the market and it outperforms the rivals by a great margin.
From packaging to customer support, the company puts commendable effort in all areas to make the customer experience truly amazing. This machine can be easily assembled and used even by people who are just beginners in the field of carving.
In case people face any problem, they can contact the company and immediately get solutions regarding anything concerning the machine. People can download manuals and get a lot of useful information about setting and operating the machine at the company’s website.
This machine has commendable design and comes with a warranty of 30 days for any manufacturing defects.
The machine sports a rigid frame cut with laser and dual brass nut on the Z axis which make it strong and sturdy for long operation.
This CNC router is made in USA and is shipped within a few days to the customers. The machine is 25x19x25 inches in dimension which allows to be placed easily along with the computer and other accessories on the work table.
The machine’s weight is only 28 pounds which makes it extremely lightweight as compared to other options.
The machine features a wide work volume with 450, 390 and 85 millimeters on X, Y and Z axes respectively. This allows users to work with large work pieces comfortably.
The machine can run at up to 30000 RPM with 5 Amperes of power which is considerably larger than the conventional CNC routers which only have an RPM till 8000. The powerful motor allows it to cut through harder materials like butter when right cutting tool is employed.
Although this machine is slightly more expensive than other China made products on the market, its performance and durability more than compensate for its price, making it in our opinion the best option in CNC router machines.
Pros of the E3 CNC Router Engraver Kit with DeWalt DW660 Router
This is the best choice for people looking to buy a CNC router machine. With great customer support and performance, this machine also offers the best features to customers.
This machine can be used to smoothly cut through a large number of materials quickly. Accompanied with a wide work space, this is the perfect option for all types of carving enthusiasts even if they have no prior experience in this field.
This CNC router is extremely capable and defies its size in its usability. This CNC router comes with a 12”x18” work table along with a color touch screen which makes it one of the best choices for conveniently performing small scale operations such as carvings, plaques and other projects.
This machine can work precisely with wood, plastics and soft metals while it costs only a fraction as compared to full scale CNC machines.
The 3D carving capability of the CNC Piranha FX allows comes along with a 3D library and allows the users to cut out intricate shapes and engravings without hassle. The accuracy of this machine is so great that it can be used to engrave customized circuit boards as well.
The compact CNC router can be easily mounted on one end of the bench while giving the user enormous potential for creativity.
The CNC Piranha FX comes along with the VCarve Desktop V8 Design software which can be run on the computer to create the required designs on the work piece.
The program can simply be stored on a USB drive which can then be connected to the machine for getting the desired model. This helps the users greatly in case they wish to keep their computer away from the dusty workshop.
The work volume of the machine or tool travel on the X, Y and Z axes (directions) is 12”, 13” and 3” respectively. The machine comes equipped with slotted table track made from aluminum, which can be interlocked to allow customized clamping.
The machine also comes along with Vector Art 3D Sampler pack which further increases the functionality and accessibility of the machine.
The CNC Pirahna FX has a strong built and is made out of durable metals. Even though it is not designed to cut hard metals, it can be used with a wide variety of materials using the right type of cutter.
This last point being important; despite the overall cost of this machine it does not come with a router, you will need to buy this separately so ensure you factor this into your purchase decision.
Pros of the CNC Piranha FX
Overall, this is a small and efficient machine, which can be used comfortably by a wide audience due to its great functionality. The ability to remotely program the CNC Piranha through a computer and be instructed through a flash drive makes it extremely convenient.
The availability of a color touch screen further makes it easy to be used even by people with less experience of operating similar machines.
Recreational and professional sculptors alike can get excited because the CNC 3018 is back in a new and improved release intended to eliminate major complaints about the original model. A series of upgrades to software and hardware have made the CNC 3018 Pro into a routing tool that’s easy and accurate enough for everyone.
Like the original, the Pro uses flexible open-source programs to allow for both an easy learning curve and make it easy for users to express themselves in all stages of the design. The new model adds the Arduino OS to the original GRBL platform, allowing easier interface and tapping into a wealth of online support in case of malfunction.
The versatility that made the original CNC so impressive is back again. This machine can handle soft metals, PVC, PBC, plastic, wood, and more, making it your go-to for craft projects of all kinds. Along with the standard cutting head, the Pro can also support a laser module for advanced projects requiring extremely fine detailing.
The new frame uses thicker aluminum than the original model, giving two distinct benefits: the Pro handles the dings and dents of an active workshop easily, and is less susceptible to jostling around that might ruin a design in progress. Four individual clamps are included for the same purpose, and hold the base material securely in position to keep your project accurate to the millimeter.
This wood router will be the only kind of router you need to carry out a great project. The CNC Pro has full offline functionality, with USB and SD ports for removable memory and redesigned mainboard to make reading them a breeze. If you want to make a last-minute change, plug in the manual controller at any time to take full control of your project.
Pros of the Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO
The GNC Pro is a great choice for any skill level of sculptor. It is simple to work with and easy to assemble, but can handle #D routing of exceptionally detailed works with ease. The software is easy to use and is supported by a broad online community.
This CNC machine is a good option due to the fact it can be easily setup without much expertise through the detailed instructions provided in the manual.
The machine also comes with easy to use software and can be employed for a wide number of purposes, (bare in mind the following compatibility specs however, the machine works with Windows 2000 / xp, win7-32 bit and win7-64 bit).
This machine has been designed to engrave a wide range of materials using spiral flute bits; including metal, steel, MDF board, solid wood, composite board plywood and stone.
The machine has good work table dimensions and a work space travel of 200, 300 and 65 millimeters for X, Y and Z directions respectively.
The machine frame is made using reliable alloys of aluminum which makes it quire durable. Motor speed the top end come in at a very respectable 8000 PRM, (lowest is 300rpm).
The machine also supports standard G-code files, such as *nc,* tap and other tool path files instructions making it easier to operate according to the requirements of the user.
Pros of the VEVOR CNC Router 3020T 3 Axis CNC Router Machine
This machine can be effectively used for a number of purposes and is a great choice for people looking to make intricate and different designs.
This machine comes with detailed manual and is easily operable without much practice needed. This CNC router supports G Code and has good built quality making it extremely versatile and sturdy for being used in a number of sectors effectively.
Use this wood router to make precise reliefs, carvings, and ornaments for a desk, mantel, or to gift to friends. If you have an idea, this machine will be able to handle the rest.
The above is not completely accurate – wood is only one of the mediums available to CNC Pro users. Your designs can show up in PVC, acrylic, plastic, and more.
This frame is compact and light in storage, but expands to hold sizable blocks of base material and can carve your design true to the millimeter with three manually adjustable axes.
No internet connection? No problem – this version of the CNC includes offline functionality as well, using USB memory or a manual controller for great results without connecting to the net. Designs are powered by the latest version of GRBL and is compatible with most recent versions of Windows.
At just a tenth of a millimeter, the drill bit will be able to carve the finest of details, powered by a 36V spindle. The engraving area is slightly larger than 30x40mm, to a height of 45mm.
Aside from the spindle assembly and electronics, the rest of this machine is surprisingly sturdy. A tough aluminum frame keeps your hardware safe from bumps and dings around the shop, even if it is moved frequently. Four sturdy clamps hold the medium securely in place to prevent marring the design with vibration or movement.
Buyers can choose this machine with confidence thanks to a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Novice crafters will be glad to hear that the manuals are available for free download in several languages.
Pros of the Upgraded Version CNC 3018 Pro
This product is physically resilient and packs a robust digital package, rendering clear and detailed designs for fast production in all the more common base materials. A healthy amount of customer support is included, with multiple media options, a year’s warranty, and free manuals in a number of languages available.
Best CNC Machine Buyer’s Guide
The CNC machines you find on the market today combine a system of computer controllers and software in order to guide the router.
This gives the user utmost precision and allows for the careful planning of a cut before it is executed.
In short a properly configured CNC router will allow you to execute near perfect cuts or engravings.
However, like anything else, there are a number of models and manufacturers to choose from. Knowing which to opt for can be difficult.
To help you, here are a few things you should consider before you make your purchase.
Capabilities of the CNC Machine
There are several questions you should ask yourself first. For example, what are your expectations for the router? What is it you are trying to achieve? This will help guide you to the type of machine you should buy, along with the required capabilities.
In short you need to be sure the machine is capable of achieving your expectations.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the options available to you…
The majority of modern CNC machines come with one of the following drive systems:
Rack and pinion is the more common system on entry level routers. The ballscrew drive system is still available on smaller machines, however they are generally more expensive.
On the plus side you can expect the ballscrew router to withstand larger material sizes as well as be more accurate.
Look out for servo motors if possible. These are better for higher speeds, they also provide greater torque on applications involving continuous load changes.
You may also find that your tool of choice uses a stepper motor. These are less expensive than servo motors and are better for low to medium speed work.
Automatic Tool Changing System (ATC)
A great feature to look out for (especially if what you are working on requires tool changes throughout), is a built in ATC System.
This will make your work more efficient. You will work faster, reducing job times as well as the chance of operation error.
Table size is important and should be considered in line with the types of work you plan on carrying out.
It is clear if you will be using large materials with the CNC machine, you will need a table that can accommodate the size.
It is also worth considering the ease with which you can adapt the table (or machine) as your demands change. A CNC router that allows for expansion, or has built in ability to handle varying material sizes is definitely a benefit.
The Spindle vs Router Question
The majority of the machines in this article are CNC routers. This is because router cutters are more affordable than spindle based ones, and are therefore better suited to the smaller workshop or home based use.
However, it would be remiss of us if we didn’t at least take a small look at the differences between the two beyond that of cost.
In essence a high frequency spindle is better for heavy production situations. They are known as the industrial grade solution CNC tool Power normally comes from a 3 phase set up (which means it needs to be routed through an inverter). The spindle packs a greater punch as a result, with far greater torque at much lower RPMs than what you can expect from a router.
This coupled with the fact spindles are built with precision bearings, means that the CNC machine will offer smoother, more accurate cutting. Durability is also a factor; the components are designed to last longer under continuous use.
So, that’s a lot of benefits for a spindle based CNC machine. However, you will have difficulties finding one under $1500.
On the other end of the spectrum, not only is the CNC router more affordable, some kits will allow you to upgrade to a spindle if and when you choose to do so.
The bottom line is, if you do not aim to be doing heavy-duty, commercial grade cutting and noise is not an issue, (routers are a lot louder than spindles) then the router CNC is the far more logical choice.
CNC Machine Control - The Software
A very big consideration when buying a CNC machine is software compatibility. If you have already decided upon the design software you wish to use, you will need to ensure that your machine of choice can run with it. This means understanding what operating software the machine uses.
These details should be fully explained in the marketing copy as well as online manuals and instructions.
So, before you buy, make sure you have had a good look at these specifications first.
The amount of extra features you can expect to find on the machine will depend on the brand and the overall cost.
Here are some good additional features to look out for.
While none are deal breakers, it is nice to have them.
Fixed Material Position
An important feature on any CNC machine is the way in which it holds the work material in place. For reliable cutting the material has to be held firm. Any slight deviation during the cut will lead to lacklustre results.
Some CNC machines will feature additional components that can be used to screw or clamp materials firaily into position.
There are also those that utilizes a jig or bleeder board powered by a vacuum to hold everything in place.
Here’s what you should consider if your CNC machine of choice offers this function…
Vacuum pressure & hold down strength
Vacuum systems have different hold down strength. The stronger this is, the heavier the material you will be able to cut.
Look at the specifications to see how much vacuum pressure the machine has; how does this compare with competitors? Just how securely does work material hold in place?
Vacuum systems will also be able to keep the work area clean. This is important for precision, fault free results.
Check your chosen CNC router to see just how dust collection is carried out. What kind of power an dust storage capacity does the machine have? Are extra components required?
Ease of service
Finally, before pulling the trigger on your purchase you should research what kind of maintenance issues and upkeep will be expected in order for the machine to continue working as it should.
Will you be able to look after and service the machine yourself, or will outside help be required? What sort of warranty and after sales service does the company offer?
This will vary between manufacturers, so it is important to be fully clear on this before you make your decision.