Useful for automating carving, engraving, drilling, and milling on all kinds of different materials from wood to stone and from acrylic to aluminum, a CNC router is quickly becoming an important tool in many different workshops. While they’ve been a staple of professional woodworkers for some time now, they have been so useful they’ve even begun to find themselves in home workshops. For beginners, however, it can be confusing to determine which model is the best CNC router. There are a number of different models and some of these seem very similar to the untrained eye. And that’s why I’ve decided to hunt down the ten best CNC router models and list them below.
9. Beauty Star 1310 GRBL Control DIY Kit
More useful as a learning tool than a functional model, this machine is designed to be used for individual study and isn’t designed to be used for production. It’s also a model that requires self-assembly and a considerable amount of mechanical knowledge. With that being said, however, it’s still a tool that’s a good introduction to these machines and a useful research tool. It’s 9.8-inches by 9.8-inches by 10.6-inches in size, has a working area of 5.1-inches by 3.9-inches by 1.6-inches, and has a 1.7-inch spindle with a 775 motor. This model can be used with software that can be run on Window and Window 8 machines.
8. Taishi 3-Axis 3D Engraver 3040
This desktop engraving machine is designed to be used by individuals who may have a limited amount of space or have a limited budget. It’s a useful machine for cutting and engraving any number of different materials including wood, plastic, PVC, and acrylic. Which makes it useful for making signs, nameplates and bronzing plates. It uses Mach 3 software which is simple to use and can control the engraving process down to a fine detail. This model is simple to operate and can be controlled using a desktop computer. It also uses a stepping motor which makes the engraving process more precise.
7. Beauty Star 3018 DIY Router Kit GRBL-Control
This unit isn’t all that easy to assemble and is not intended for industrial grade production. However, if the user can get past these two things, this unit does have some attractive features. It contains ten cutters, an extension rod with ER11 collet and can be used with just about any Windows computer from XP to Windows 10, as well as Linux machines. While it doesn’t come with PCB processing software or Toolpath creation software, it does come with GRBL control software. It’s powered by a 775 spindle motor and a frame size of 33cm by 18cm by 4.5cm.
6. Qiilu 1500 MW Laser Engraver
This model has a laser head that’s not only replaceable but is also cooled by a cooling fan so it can be used for longer periods of time. It can be connected to a computer and can be connected using Bluetooth. This engraver can engrave plastic, wood, bamboo, rubber and a variety of other materials, although it should be noted that it can’t carve metal or glass. This machine will work with Windows-based machines from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and can also be used with iPhone or Android devices as well. It’s a good unit for amateur use.
5. MySweety CNC Engraver Milling Machine
This easy-to-use machine has to be assembled by the user, but once that’s completed it is a system that can be used to engrave a wide variety of different materials including soft metals such as aluminum and copper, as well as materials such as wood, acrylic, and plastic. It’s GRBL control and can be used with Windows XP through Windows 10 and can even be used with Linux desktop systems. This model uses a 775 spindle motor, has an engraving area of 160x100x45mm and a professional T8 screw. All of this makes this a useful tool for hobby related projects.
4. MySweety DIY 3-Axis Engraving Kit
Designed more for amateur and hobby use, this machine is ideal for using to engrave or mill all kinds of different materials such as wood, PVC, PCB, plastic and acrylic surfaces. While it can’t be used for hard metals or gemstones and isn’t considered to be an industrial model, it is a good unit for learning how these type of routers work or for research purposes. This unit has a 775 spindle motor, a brack spindle chuck, and can be used with compatible Windows or Linux desktop systems. It also comes with a 10-piece set of bits.
3. MySweety DIY 1610 GRNL Milling Machine
The 1610 engraving unit is designed to engrave softer materials such as plastic, wood, acrylic, and PVC. It also has a 775 spindle motor, a T8 threaded stainless steel lead screw and double copper nuts that help to eliminate backlash. This system supports Windows and Linux desktop computers and has a frame size of 260x240x220mm. This unit comes not only with the machine but also comes with ten pieces PCB cutter and four set plates. While it doesn’t come with tool path creation or PBB processing software, GRBL software is included.
2. Beauty Star 2419 Router Kit
Equipped with ten mill engraving bits, but shipped without a laser module or limit switches, this router kit is designed to be used for amateur and DIY applications. Designed to engrave plastic, acrylic, wood and soft metals such as copper or aluminum, this product can be used for a number of different applications. This machine has a 775 spindle motor and supports Windows and Linux computers. Since this unit has to be assembled by the user, it’s an ideal machine for study or for research purposes and is not intended to handle heavy-duty or industrial jobs.
1. Bobs E3 CNC Engraver Kit
Equipped with a DeWalt DW660 router and an Arduino-based processor that uses GRBL and is connected through a USB connection, this system can be used for a variety of tasks and is designed to be compatible with desktop computer systems. This unit also has an SG20U supported rail system, a GT2 bet drive on X & Y axis and a rigid laser cut frame. This unit has a cutting area of 17.7-inches by 15.3-inches by 3.3-inches. While it has to be assembled by the user, it does offer enough power to do a variety of jobs and is a useful tool to own.
CNC Buying Guide
CNC routers, also known as computer numerical control routers, are useful tools for cutting a variety of materials. They can be used to accomplish a variety of jobs including cutting, milling, grooving, and carving, and can also be used on a variety of materials including wood, aluminum, steel, glass, foam, and plastics. That makes them extremely versatile tools that can replace other carpentry-shop tools such as boring machines, panel saws, and spindle molders. Because of their precision, these machines can help to reduce errors and reduce waste when used properly.
The problem that most people have when they’re buying a new CNC router is determining which model and which features are necessary for their needs. Due to the limited scope of this guide, we can’t possibly tell all of our readers which CNC routers are the best, but we can give them some information that will help them give more thought to the features that are the most important. Having said that, below are some things to consider before purchasing a new CNC router.
The Motor System & Drive System
The first two things that need to be properly considered are the motor and drive systems of the CNC router. As far as motors are concerned, most of these routers are equipped with either servo motors or stepper motors. The type of motor that a person is going to want to choose depends on what they intend on using the router for. For high-torque and/or high-speed projects, servo motors are the best ones to use, while stepper motors are better for low to medium speed applications. The consumer should also keep in mind that servo motors are going to be a little more expensive than stepper motors.
The drive system is just as important as the motor on a CNC router. As a general rule, most of these routers use one of three basic drive systems and these systems are Ball Screw, Lead Screw, and Rack & Pinion drive systems. Although there’s little difference between lead-screw and rack & pinion drive systems, ball screw drive systems are typically considered the best because they’re more accurate and can handle a larger material size. Unfortunately, that also makes them more expensive.
Consider An Automatic Tool Changer System
If the consumer is thinking of running an application that requires the use of more than one different tool, then an automatic tool changer system or ATC is probably a good idea. Because it automatically handles tool changes, it helps to reduce the project’s run time and helps to reduce errors that may be caused by the operator.
Consider Table Size
Another thing to keep in mind is the table size of the router. Although we can’t tell our readers what size they need for their workshops, we can say that it’s important to choose a table size that’s large enough to handle the material that needs to be processed, as well as one that’s large enough to allow for future expansion. However, the consumer should avoid buying one that’s larger than they need, especially if they need to move it in the future.
Think Carefully About The Spindle
It’s also important to choose the right spindle for your project. Although we can’t tell our readers exactly what type of spindle they should look for when they’re buying the best CNC router for their purposes, we can talk about them generally. There’s a lot to consider when looking at spindles, and that includes not only its RPMs, but also its load-ratings, power requirements, collet size and type, and motor types. When using cutters up to 5mm for machining plastic, wood, aluminum or laminate, then a 24,000 RPM spindle is sufficient, while a 15,000 to 18,000 RPM spindle is appropriate for cutting steel.
Other Features To Consider
Once all of the basic features of a CNC router are considered, it’s now important to turn our attention to other features that a person may (or may not) want to consider. The following features will generally make the router easier to use, but some of the features may not be needed by all members and some of them may even increase the router’s costs. Therefore, the consumer should always balance their needs against their expectations and budget to find the best CNC router for their purposes.
Dust Collection Systems
A great feature to find on any CNC router is a dust collection system. Since these machines produce a bit of dust and waste, a good dust collection system can help to keep the worktop clean and keep down particles in the air.
All-Steel Welded Frames
Although not every CNC router operator is going to need a machine that’s made with an all-steel welded frame, the ones that are built with it are designed for heavy-duty projects. Many of the routers made with steel welded frames are also backed by limited lifetime warranties, which is a further testament to how strong and durable these machines can be.