The Top 5 CNC Routers Reviewed
A Computer Numerical Control, or CNC router for short, is the name for a computer-controlled cutting machine used for cutting a variety of materials including wood, glass, plastic, metals, and composites to produce carvings, signs, decorations, furniture, moldings and other DIY products. Whereas in the past these cutting movements would be guided by hand, with a CNC router they are instead guided by a computer guaranteeing precision and quality. Because the CNC router in operation directly correlates to the efficiency and quality of the product produced, it’s important that factories and producers find a good one. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 of the best CNC routers for you to choose from.
Best CNC Routers
The Axiom Precision AR Pro + is a professional machine, offering the full capabilities of 4 axes amongst all the other great features of the Axiom Pro Series. The Axiom Precision AutoRoute 8 Pro+ also offers prismatic guides and a quiet yet powerful 3HP electro-spindle with an integrated liquid cooling system. All of the great features of the Axiom Precision AR Pro + are housed within its strong and sturdy steel frame and like all of the Axiom Pro+ Series CNC routers, it is also wired to accept the Axiom Rotary Kit and has a full 6 inches of z travel capacity.
With three footprint options available ranging from 24 inches by 24 inches, to 24 inches by 48 inches, you can easily find one that fits your workspace and thanks to the accompanying USB controller there’s no need to attach this CNC router to your computer so you’re free to set it up independently wherever you need it. For those who like a complete kit, there’s even an accompanying stand and tool kit to complete the set. Although one of the more expensive CNC routers, the Axiom Precision AutoRoute 8 Pro+ offers professional quality and would make a great addition to any more experienced CNC user.
- 3HP Electro Spindle, Integrated Liquid Cooling System, Axiom Industrial 4-axis CNC Controller, Interlocking Aluminum Table, Precision Ball Screws
- Prismatic Guides in all Axes, Auto Tool Touch-off Plate
- Optional Stand and Tool Box available
- 6'' Z travel capacity
- 4th-axis capability, All Axiom Pro+ machines are prewired to accept optional Rotary Kit
The CNC Piranha FX is the base model CNC router produced by Next Wave Automation, but don’t be put off by its modest price tag. The CNC Piranha FX offers nearly all of the same features as some of the most expensive CNC routers on the market just in a smaller, slightly less rigid structure. If you’re working with softer materials or are looking for an entry-level product then the CNC Piranha FX ticks all the boxes whilst not breaking the bank. With a 12-inch by 18-inch table this CNC router is perfect for precision engravings and smaller-scale projects and can neatly fit on the end of even a small workbench whilst still offering a good range of X, Y and Z travel.
The CNC router is controlled by an impressive touch screen controller, best used with a stylus, and for those new to design and engraving, the CNC Piranha FX also comes with VCarve Desktop V8 Design Software which is compatible with Windows PC’s and a Vector Art-3-D Sampler Pack helping you get up and running straight away. Overall the CNC Piranha FX is a solid-looking piece of kit packing a small but mighty punch at a reasonable price and can be mastered relatively easily by complete CNC novices – definitely one to consider for those looking to take their projects to the next level.
For students and beginners, BobsCNC E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit is an affordable CNC solution. Coming in pieces the BobsCNC E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit is self-assembled at home, taking most users a day or so to complete, this not only helps to keep the cost of the machine down but also teaches the new owner the inner workings of the machine which greatly benefits their understanding. Despite being self-assembled, made of wood, and also being one of the most cost-effective CNC routers on the market, the E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit surpasses expectations when it comes to the rigidity of its casing and the quality of the work it can produce.
The E4 CNC router comes with the Dewalt 660 router and Arduino based microprocessor and requires a connection with a computer that can be obtained through a USB connection. With a 24-inch by 24-inch by 3-inch cutting area and a small 30-inch by 38-inch by 19-inch footprint the router is perfect for more petit beginner projects and will not take up too much space on a desk or workspace. If you’re looking for your first CNC router and like the ides of assembling your first machine yourself then the E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit is the machine for you and will teach you all you need to know about getting started with precision cutting.
- The Evolution 4 CNC Router has the following features:
- A rigid laser cut frame.
- SG20U supported rail system.
- GT2 belt drive on X and Y axis.
- ACME TR8 on the Z axis.
For beginners and more experienced CNC users alike, another compact but professional CNC router on the market is the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-MX3 offering top quality features at a reasonable market price. Quite a step up from the BobsCNC E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit, the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-MX3 is suitable for working on a variety of DIY projects including engraving, drilling, milling, and woodworking and is perfect for both a hobbyist and budding CNC business owner alike. Another of the smaller CNC machines on the market, the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-MX3 has an engraving area of 11.8-inches by 7.1-inches by 1.8 inches and a footprint of 15.7-inches by 13-inches by 9.4-inches but with its open back and front panels can still accommodate larger materials and projects with ease.
The SainSmart Genmitsu 3019-MX3 is controlled by the professional software Mach3 (which is not provided and must be purchased separately) and is supported on a number of operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 as well as Mac. In the box you’ll find, the CNC router itself, which requires some self-assembly, a toolbox, and an additional screw and nut accessory box, providing you with everything you need to get the router up and running.
- Mach3 Control: SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router 3018-MX3 is the first 3018 CNC machine that controlled by Mach3. Supported by this professional software, you can control the CNC router like an expert. Mach3 works with other programs and will import DXF files, generate G-Code, fully customizable.
- Safety-Driven Design: MX3 features two 5mm acrylic baffles on each side of the machine so that you can safely monitor the engraving process. To protect against engraving faults, each axis is equipped with a limit/home switch that stops the tool spindle from leaving the engraving area.
- Ideal Working Area: Experience the next level of creativity with an active build area of 300mm x 180mm with an open back and front passthrough allowing you to load material larger than the machines active area for signs and more, all in a package perfect for your desk that’s as small as an inkjet printer.
- Automatic Tool Setting Function: With Auto Tool Setting you quickly home your tool position with a single click ensuring your next projects start point and making it easier to align your material.
- Complete Kit: The SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-MX3 is a fully integrated desktop CNC milling platform perfect for your home or workshop. Take your creativity to the next level and convert those ideas into real objects made from a range of real materials. Work with materials like Wood, Plastic, and Soft Metals all from your desktop and a simple USB connection.
The Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO is another great beginners CNC router, perfect for all types of plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs, the only materials that this machine can’t handle are hard metals such as steel. Despite being best suited to softer materials such as wood and plastic, the machine itself is well-reviewed as ‘sturdy and strong’ and is described as having a ‘good build quality’. For those who are worried about the small amount of self-assembly required, there are plenty of tutorials and instructional videos available online and most users find that the machine can be assembled in as little as two hours. Once complete, this compact machine has the same footprint and cutting area as the Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018-MX3 and for those who do not wish to connect the Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO to their computer, there is also an offline controller available that can be purchased separately.
As a relatively small CNC router, weighing just 15lb, the Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO can be positioned and moved around with ease, whether you work in a garage, workshop or factory. Although the Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO is best suited to the more novice user starting their CNC learning it still provides many of the features found in the next level Genmitsu MX3 model and for those looking to take their creativity to the next level it is also compatible with an additional laser engraving module that can be purchased from the SainSmart website.
- Premium Power Adapter: The 3018-PRO has brought safety improvements to the adapter, with CE/FCC/UL-approved. Strong built for heavy-duty and long usage performance, making input/output stably even when work for a long time or work with a laser module.
- Integrated: With an integrated mainboard and custom software, communication between the software and hardware is seamless by design.
- Software: The Genmitsu uses Grbl, high performance, open-source software for controlling movement, and runs on Arduino. Its dependability and simplicity make Grbl an industry standard, there's no lack of support and resources available when you get stuck.
- Offline Controller: The 3018-PRO comes with an offline controller, you can manually adjust X, Y, Z-axis without connecting to the computer and download files.
- Versatile: Capable of cutting all types of plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs, the Genmitsu can be used on a wide range of projects and materials. Assembly instructions are provided, but if you get stuck, check out the SainSmart wiki page or contact us with any questions that arise.
For those on a budget or those who are just beginning their CNC journey then look no further than the BobsCNC E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit. The self-assembly aspect of this kit is a great way to learn more about how CNC routers work and at the end of it, you will have created a good quality machine from which to learn on. The smaller cutting area and compact footprint of the BobsCNC E4 CNC Router Engraver Kit make it perfect for keeping in the house or in a garage space whilst its cutting area is still adequately sized for most starter projects. With rave reviews on Amazon and a great customer service team this CNC router is built to please and that’s why it receives our recommendation as the best CNC router for those on a budget.
For those looking for superior cutting quality or seeking to set up a CNC based business, then the Axiom Precision AutoRoute 8 Pro+ is well worth the investment and tops our list as the best premier CNC router. With three footprint sizes available, the Axiom Precision AutoRoute 8 Pro+ can handle a wide variety of projects in a number of materials and has the capability to produce professional quality work. Although it comes with a much higher price tag than the other CNC routers on our list, the Axiom Precision AutoRoute 8 Pro+ is built to last with a solid steel frame, liquid cooling system, and interlocking aluminum table and will be able to accommodate far more advanced projects.
Still not convinced you need a CNC router? Check out this video that shows a few of the many projects they can help you with:
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