In just a few years, things have been too convenient to us. Technology has paved the way for the birth of various innovations, such as the 3D printer. You just place your design, and you can get it printed with realistic structure. Such functionality is pretty similar to a CNC router. Specifically, this tool will shape and carve any material of your choice.
However, such task is pretty impossible if you don't have the best CNC router. The latter is computer-operated and can work on materials like plastic, wood, and even metal. You can compare its functionality to a manual milling machine. The only difference they have is that the CNC works hand-in-hand with a computer.
Fortunately, this tool is not as expensive as what you think. Moreover, it is also easy to operate, albeit the standard conception. In this article, we will show you some of the top options for a CNC router. In just a short while, we will also feature an accurate buying guide for this tool. In this way, you will never invest in a wrong product.
Let's not beat the bush anymore. Let's start!
Last update on 2019-07-20 at 12:34 PST - Details
How to Choose a CNC Router
If you are frequently working with metals, plastic, and wood in your home or private workshop, a CNC router is indeed a handy tool. That is the case if you want to break down these materials into specific sizes and shapes. Specifically, this device is designed to slice and engrave thick and sturdy materials like they are nothing.
But of course, you won't enjoy such benefits if the CNC router that you are going to choose has a flimsy construction. It won't be able to cut smoothly, and its lifespan would dwindle down quickly. On the other hand, a good CNC router can get the job done, regardless of the application. It can cut materials quickly and can last on the field for a long time.
With the availability of multiple brands of CNC routers, choosing might become a complicated process. If you don't know the basics of a CNC router, you might end up in such predicament. But don't fret. We got you covered. Just read on to know the important aspects that you should observe when selecting this tool.
Here are they:
It is inevitable that some CNC routers are made to cater specific types of materials. You cannot just simply assume that a CNC router will have a "one size fits all" performance. Therefore, it is pretty crucial that you must check if a particular model can accommodate the material that you want to cut.
For example, a CNC router made for wood materials can quickly tackle wooden planks and blocks. However, you can expect that the drill points would slip out if you use the machine with plastics and metals.
Availability of Spare Parts
Before you start investing on a particular CNC router, you need to make sure that you can find spare parts for it easily. You might not be able to discern the time, but sooner or later, maintenance and repairs will rise.
During that period, you might replace some parts. For instance, the drill bits, profile cutters, and router bits are among the most sensitive parts to damage. Prolonged used will eventually wear down their quality.
Therefore, it would be great if the manufacturer is also selling spare parts for their CNC routers. In this way, you will have an easy time dealing with replacements.
Of course, you should pay attention at the cost of the CNC router. Well, we are not judging your financial capacities. But it would be economical and practical to choose a router that is within your budget limit. Of course, you can expect that expensive routing machines feature multiple capabilities. But on the other hand, you don't have to go with such if you only have simple applications.
However, if you are professional, you might need to invest in high-end models. They are the cost-efficient choice, considering their performance and quality.
Parts of a CNC Router
You have to know the essential parts of a CNC router. After all, being familiar with its components will allow you to maximise the full potential of this machine.
- Drive System - CNC routers can either have these three drive systems: rack and pinion, ball screw, and lead screw. In the market today, ball screw models are the most expensive. However, they have the capacity to deal with significant materials with maximum accuracy.
- Motor System - The motor system dictates the cutting speed and torque of the CNC router. You can assume that those models that have highly-rated motor systems have better and faster performance than their counterparts.
- Spindle - The spindle is the motor that does the actual slicing, engraving, and cutting with the help of a cutting component. Take a look at the features of the spindle such as its torque, RPM, and power requirements. They will help you determine the performance of the rod.
- Automatic Tool Changing (ATC) - If your intended application entails you to use more than a single device, the CNC router must come with an ATC system. Just as its name suggests, this component allows you to interchange tools quickly and efficiently. They also reduce errors and working downtime.
- Table Size - Your CNC router should have the appropriate table size that can cater the materials that you want to use. Of course, the bigger the material, the larger the routing machine you should choose. It might also require you to expand your working area.
- Software - We mentioned that CNC routers are computer operated. Therefore, it is pretty crucial that its software is advanced and accurate. Moreover, it would also be great if the software receives updates from its manufacturers. If you want to work with complex applications, you might need a router with a high-grade software.
- Vacuum - The vacuum of CNC router is the one that holds the materials for cutting. The stronger the vacuum is, the heavier the materials that it can accommodate. Meanwhile, you can measure the strength of a vacuum through pressure.
Full Round-Up of the Best CNC Routers
You can see the full features of each of these CNC routers in the following section. Moreover, you can also check their current prices on the market by clicking their corresponding links.
The E3 CNC Router is an excellent option for every serious artisan out there. This one provides the cutting power that you need to deal with any materials, including hardwood and composite wood. The E3 is using an Arduino-based microprocessor that you can connect through USB. Fortunately, it is using a Java-based software that is compatible with OS X, Linux, and Windows.
Meanwhile, the product features a DeWalt spindle that has 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch collection ports. Therefore, it can accommodate rounded and straight bits, as long they have 1/8-inch OR 1/4-inch shaft sizes. Based on its dimension (with no changes tool), this particular router can cut as much as 3.3-inch stock.
Also, this CNC router also has a controller, power supply, and motors on its package. Do not worry if you are new to this tool as it comes with a comprehensive assembly instruction.
- User-friendly usage
- Comes with a laser-cut frame
- It has a tool-changing mechanism
- Can cut through thick materials
- Large cutting area
- Some errors in its software are reported, especially on specific operating systems
The MYSWEETY Router Kit is the ideal choice for those who have simple applications on their mind. It is a great design that works well for ordinary DIYers. It is compact and lightweight, making it versatile option. This CNC router comes with a USB interface and GRBL-based control systems. There are various software programs that you can use to operate this device such as the Toolpath Creation and PCB Processing. But take note that you have to purchase them separately.
The working area of this CNC router is 160mm x 100mm x 45mm. Meanwhile, the plate comes with aluminum, which makes it durable and stable. It has a spindle motor that boasts 7000 rpm cutting speed. The feature complements its 42-Stepper motor. You can guarantee that this engraving machine works well with acrylic, PVC, wood, and plastic.
Fortunately, the MYSWEETY Router Kit is compatible with various operating systems. It allows you to use it conveniently, even in your laptop!
- Beginner-friendly CNC router
- Some of the parts are pre-assembled
- Durable construction
- Works well with different materials
- Compatible with various operating systems
- It has some plastic components
- Not for larger applications
The CNC Piranha FX gives delight to any amateur users out there. Unlike most of the conventional CNC routers out there, this comes with assembled parts already. You don't have to deal with the disturbing part of attaching the right pieces. But on the downside, you might get blown by its price. Specifically, it is among the most expensive routing machines we ever tested.
Well, the price of the CNC Piranha FX will entitle you to lots of benefits. It offers an extra-large working space. It is a perfect fit for those who want to work with heavy materials. This tool also features excellent 3D-carving performance. You can even use this one for special projects like plaques! But definitely, you can assure that this device works well with soft metals, wood, and plastics.
You will love the fact that this CNC router has a repository of default of 3D models. Therefore, you can already start creating from the get-go. But of course, you can modify these versions to suit your project.
- Touchscreen feature (no need to bring your computer to the job site)
- Works in different operating system
- It has sets of default 3D models
- Powerful cutting performance
- Fully assembled
- It is expensive
- It is quite difficult to familiarise
If you want another small option for a CNC router, you should try this tool from Beauty Star. Of course, it is a great device for those who want to study the art of engraving into materials. But at the same time, it is not the right machine for production and commercial purposes.
This one offers a working area of 130mm x 100mm x 40mm. It is not that huge, but it can work well on small DIY projects and designs. Despite its small size, the Beauty Star features remarkable cutting performance, thanks to its 775 Motor. It can provide a guaranteed 130mm x 100mm cutting strokes to any material, regardless if it is wood, PVC, or plastic.
With its durable construction and affordable price, getting this tool is a good start for any interested worker. It is a great investment that you might want to get.
- Ideal for study purposes
- Excellent cutting precision and power
- Compact and lightweight
- Durable construction
- Easy to use
- Assembly process is complicated
- Replacement parts are not easy to find
It is pretty evident that the Bohua 3 Axis CNC Router Engraver Milling Machine is quite a unique unit. It has a design that just differs from the conventional routing machines. However, its performance remains the same. The Bohua CNC Router is a specialised tool for engraving. It is compatible with various tools such as wood, plastic, and composite boards. It is even notable that this one can work with bamboos, too!
You can also make crafted jewellery out from this machine. It can engrave various metal surfaces such as copper, silver, and aluminum. If set correctly, you can get this device engrave even gold! Just make sure that the material has a thickness that doesn't exceed 70mm.
Of course, this tool is easy to use, as it allows you to place your work piece accurately. Therefore, you can guarantee that it can cut with accuracy. Specifically, it has a 0.05mm precision, which is great!
- Study and durable construction
- Can accommodate hard metals
- Ample working space
- Provides accuracy in work
- Software is compatible on multiple operating systems
- Still not suited for commercial applications
- Requires rigorous assembly
A CNC router is indeed a handy machine for those who want to explore the world of crafting and engraving. It is not the typical tool that you can see on constructions sites. But definitely, it is the tool-of-the-trade for serious artisans in the workshop.
Among the models we featured, it is easy to say that the Bobs CNC E3 CNC Router Engraver Kit is the best CNC router. It is ideal for commercial applications because of its versatility, accuracy, and cutting performance. Moreover, it has a great design that caters different work pieces. Therefore, investing in this unit will never become a regrettable choice.
But of course, you still have the final say. Just put into considerations your intended application, and you can easily get the machine that would suit your needs!
Thomas Roberge is a Pro himself, who has been in the business of home renovation and construction, working with various tools. He used to be the owner of 2 local construction companies with over 18 years experience. His works also include writing inspiring Do IT Yourself Tips and Tricks.