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CNC Routers are complex modern carving tools for creating precision cuts. CNC Machines are digitally controlled and work based on a file specifically designed for these machines. The old milling machines operated by hand were much more inefficient and the production costs were considerably higher. Thanks to the advance of technology all processes are now handled by a computer and the end results are of much better quality.
If you’re interested in a laser engraver or cutter be sure to check my article.
Another great advantage of CNC machines is that they can be used for an incredible variety of cuts and engravings like wood carving, cutting aluminum, plastic and all types of hard materials.
All in all, I would say that CNC Routers are the best investment you can make in your business be it small or large, mainly because it saves a lot of time, effort, and money. If you are working with manual carving and cutting tools then an upgrade to a CNC router would feel incredible.
Ok now that we got that out of the way, you might still be confused by the large variety of products available on the market. And so was I some time ago, but after I researched the market I came up with this list containing my favorite CNC routers which I also consider to be the best money can buy. I am aware that not everyone has the money to invest in very expensive machines so I included machines from all price categories.
Best CNC Routers
Another great DIY kit, this time made of wood, the BobsCNC offers great value for customers who want something affordable to start carving on a low budget. It’s true that you will have to invest some time in assembling it but after that is done I can assure you that this router will work flawlessly.
To be frank I wouldn’t expect from an all-wood frame to be made so well-made in terms of ruggedness and quality. All parts fit very well in their spot and everything is so well to put together that you will be amazed; sort of like Ikea furniture 🙂 A great advantage of this kit is that it includes all the parts needed to get the router up and running. So you won’t have to buy anything in advance.
You can use it with any open source software and any proprietary ones as well. If you already know how to use any CNC router software then you will be able to make your own carvings right after assembly. With the proper bits, you can cut any sort of materials as long as we are not talking about steel.
Overall I would say this is my all time favorite CNC router kit on the market. It is pretty much flawless and can be assembled much faster than other kits if you read the instructions manual on the manufacturer’s site.
- Can be used with a USB port
- 450X380 mm working table area
- DeWalt DW660 router
- All required parts included
- Well designed parts
- GT2 belt drive on axis X and Y
- Dual brass nut on Z axis
- Nema17 bipolar stepper motors
- Can cut all types of wood and a large variety of similar materials
The 3018-PROVer from SainSmart comes with many improvements and convenient abilities to help beginners get started in the world of CNC routers. It comes pre-assembled so there’s not a lot of time wasted with the set-up process. Most users can get the machine running in a matter of minutes instead of hours. The device is built from high-quality aluminum with a premium blue oxide appearance. It’s engineered with acrylic baffles for protection against cutaway materials during engraving.
Though you should connect the CNC router machine to the computer to get the most out of it, you can also simply rely on the offline controller. A small display allows the user to perform various operations without a PC connection. The CNC router is capable of milling various materials. It operates with the help of open-source software backed by silent Toshiba drivers and mainboard optocouplers. You can definitely count on this CNC machine to handle your projects in a consistent and safe manner.
Best CNC DIY Kit Machines
Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit Learning CNC machining is surprisingly fun and easy if you have the right router kit for the job. Check out the Genmitsu 3018-PRO CNC machine that boasts impressive cutting versatility and reliable open-source software. It excels in terms of safety thanks to a heavy-duty power adapter that earned FCC,CE, and UL certifications. The kit offers a built-in mainboard so there’s a convenient connection between the hardware and software aspects of the machine.
Controlling the CNC machine offline is possible if you prefer it that way. The device allows you to make manual adjustments and create projects without requiring a PC connection. This kit is a good solution if you intend to work with materials such as soft aluminum, acrylics, PCBs, and pretty much any plastic type. The software of this CNC router kit is built on Arduino and Grbl so it’s quite easy to find extra support information as needed.
This small CNC router from Vevor has all you need to start carving and engraving your projects fast and easy. It’s true, due to the size and price the functionalities are reduced but it does well what it was designed for.
An advantage of this machine is that it can receive files through an USB port, so you won’t have the compatibility issues that the previous machines had with the parallel port. The stepper motors are two-phase 1.8A which is fine for projects which are not complicated. However, don’t expect industrial results with motors so small.
One of the things I like about it is that you can engrave or carve much more materials using spiral bits than with regular bits. Some of the materials which come to mind are various types of wood from plywood to hardwood, stone, and even metal. This Router is surprisingly precise considering the price and components. If you use good quality bits you might get some interesting results in terms of quality of the carving/engraving.
As I said in the previous review, I recommend using the open source software called LinuxCNC if you don’t want to spend a fortune on software like Mach 3 or AutoCAD. It’s true that the graphic interface is not so polished and some advanced features do not exist in LinuxCNC but for small projects or educational purposes open source software is more than enough.
I shouldn’t complain about anything considering the parts but you should definitely know my main frustrations with this machine. The motors are weak so you might want to make some pauses in between projects because they tend to overheat, the control software is a copy of an original software and the lack of limiting switches can cause some inconveniences. These are the main concerns I had but I think they are minor enough not to affect the overall great value of this CNC router.
- 4 axis CNC Router
- USB port
- 320 X 530 mm work area
- Carving speed range: 0-4000mm/minute
- Supports DXF Files
- Aluminum frame and body
- More precise than expected
- Works with all Windows versions from Windows 7 and older
Best CNC Stepper Motor Drivers
Crafted using the latest technologies, the STEPPERONLINE CNC stepper motor driver is worth a shot if you have 2-phase and 4-phase motors. This unit has heavy-duty construction and provides automatic configuration options to handle different motors as effectively as possible. The stepper motor driver is optimized for reduced noise and efficient cooling. Thanks to an anti-resonance ability, it offers solid torque and superior working stability.
This CNC stepper motor driver comes with selectable microstep resolutions. It also allows the user to select from multiple peak current values. Another great feature is the multi-stepping that ensures smoother motor movement. In terms of safety, this device has been equipped with multiple protections against over-voltage and over-current. A properly designed stepper motor driver, this model is highly recommended if you need reliable performance in your CNC setup.
If you want an affordable stepper motor driver then this piece is probably one of the best choices you can make. If you are not sure how to choose the proper driver for your stepper motors you can check out this article explaining the matching of stepper motors to their drivers.
For the money, you get decent technical capabilities. The 4A maximum output power is enough for all regular sized CNC motors, the thermal and current protection assure that you don’t have to change the driver every week and the energy saving function is a nice addition that I think should be in every driver.
So in the end, if all you need is something cheap to get your stepper motors up and running this might be the best option in terms of value for the money. Just be sure that it works with the motors you have or plan to buy.
- Very affordable
- Good quality
- Bipolar constant phase
- 4A output power
- 9V-40V DC power supply
- Thermal and current protection
- Energy saving function
- For stepper motors of the types 42, 57 and 86 in 2 and 4 phase
- Photoelectric isolation
Best CNC/3D Printer Stepper Motors
One of the best stepper motors that you can use for all sorts of projects like CNC routers and 3D printers, this standardized NEMA 17 bipolar stepper motor is offering great value for the money.
It is ideal for all sorts of 3D printers and CNC applications like RepRap Prusa, Rostock, RoBo 3D and so on. For example, if you buy a CNC kit and you don’t get the main parts with it then this motor is a great choice.
As stated before do not try and connect this motor directly to a power source. This has to be done through a driver that controls the flow of power. Also be very careful how you supply this motor because you might damage it. I would recommend using a current limited supply in order not to overload it with an amperage higher than 2A.
- DC Bipolar stepper
- 1.8 degrees step angle
- 2A Phase, 1.1 ohms resistance per phase
- 2.6mH+/- 20% (1KHz) Inductance
- 63.7 oz holding torque
- No mounting brackets included
- 310g weight