The Type of CNC Routers
If you have heard of other CNC (computer numerical control) machines then you’ve put probably have heard of CNC routers. These CNC routers is essentially a cutting machine that is used in many different disciplines such as milling, panel sawing, and spindle molding. While it is true that you can use other machines to do the job, CNC routers consistently give high-quality output. With the variation of jobs, you could do with it, there is also a variety of CNC routers.
Industrial CNC Routers
If you have seen a CNC routers then it is most likely an industrial one as they are the ones most used anywhere. Many of the woodworking companies would use these CNC routers to produce almost any of kind of furniture. They are arguably the most durable kinds as they are used for very long hours.
Mid-Range CNC Routers
Industrial CNC machines are obviously larger in size, but that does not mean that they cannot be used for smaller jobs. Mid-range CNC routers are made of the same materials as the industrial ones and are basically just smaller versions of them. Guitars are usually made by mid-range CNC routers.
Hobbyist CNC Routers
If the mid-range one was not small enough for your homes, then the hobbyist one would surely do the trick. These are routers that can be designed and built by anyone as the assembly guide can easily be found on the internet.
How To Choose a CNC Router?
All CNC routers essentially do the same job and are generally made up of the same basic parts. However, this does not mean that getting any one of these will automatically be great for you. There are still some considerations that must be made when choosing the best CNC router you can get. After all, nobody wants to get a lousy machine. That said, here is a simple guide you can follow.
Step 1: What kind of material are you going to cut with the router?
Not every router will cut wood. Every CNC router was built to cut a specific kind of material so when canvassing for models check what it can cut. A CNC router would not work well if you are going to use it for something hard like steel, nor would it work any better when used on plastic.
Step 2: Are spare parts made easily available on the market? Or is there any warranty at least?
This is especially important if you are going to use your CNC router regularly. Soon, it will wear and tear and you may save yourself from buying a new one if you buy the parts needed instead. Specifically, check whether the model has replacements for their profile cutters and router and drill bits.
Step 3: Does it fit your budget?
If you have already been searching for CNC routers on the net then you would know by now that they are pretty expensive. You may be convinced to shell out more money than you originally allocated but make sure that the every part of the machine can work out well for you. Here are some of the parts that you will want to consider.
Drive System – Pinion, lead screw, or ball screw. Note that the last one is the most expensive but works the best.
Motor System – Get Servo Motors if you can, but if on a budget, a Stepper Motor will do.
Spindles – Check its RPM, torque, and power requirements.
Weight – The heavier the better, at least usually
Table Size – Get bigger table sizes if you have bigger materials to cut.
Software – Try getting the most advanced one.
Dust Collection – Needless to say, you would want a clean workspace.
Router Bits – Getting a high-quality router bit will guarantee you a long lifetime.
JFT-Jessica JFT 3040 CNC Router
The JFT 3040 is probably one of the most expensive ones you will find anywhere. Since it is, it is only natural for anyone to expect a lot from it. This 42-kilogram machine is also the heaviest due to the aluminum alloy covering its quite bigger size compared to the rest of this list. The XYZ working area is at 300mm 400mm, and 90mm respectively and its work table at 570 by 360 by 15mm.
It can cut through materials as thick as 130mm. It features a Stepper Motor with a torque at 0.59NM which is quite better than most other motors. With no material, the spindle can go up to 4000mm a minute while its carving or engraving speed is at 50 to 3500 mm per minute.
Possibly a part of the price you paid for is getting their exceptional customer service. They would usually reply within the day or if you are lucky, you can check back within the next few minutes. You will love the durability of this machine. Of course, that is, if you have assembled it properly which may take a while. Although getting a Servo motor may be better, this 3A stepper motor almost provides the same quality.
While you will have to assemble it, the tools that come with the product does not provide much help. The bolts could not be screwed in properly so you may need your own wrench to do the trick. You might have a hard time using the software successfully. The problems seem to be different for different users but you may email the manufacturer for solutions. There are other products that can almost do the same thing or even more that come with a cheaper price.
New Wave Automation CNC Piranha FX
As one of the more expensive CNC routers in the market, you still would want to consider getting this one. If you have heard about the CNC Shark, then you would already know how the Piranha would work since this is essentially just a smaller and more compact version of it. Its table dimension is 12 inches by 12 inches which are just enough for small projects. You can cut wood, soft metals, and even plastics and you can also make small detailed cuts with its 3D carving. The accuracy is highly regarded as it can even be used on circuit boards.
Its included software, the VCarve Desktop V8 Design can easily be installed on any PC with a USB Port. All you have to do save your program on a flash drive and click the run button when you plug it in the Pendant. The New Wave Automation customer service can easily be contacted if you have any problems regarding the product especially if it is software related. It can cut a multitude of materials with ease.
For beginners, this may not be the best option for you. Its VCarve software can be hard to understand for first-timers especially when dealing with its 3D capabilities. Some users have complained about the controller heating up even at a normal room temperature. And because of this, the machine can start randomly punching holes on your projects thus ruining them. The software is not made available for Mac users.
VEVOR CNC Router 3040T
Looking for a small, a bit more compact, and simple CNC router? You will want this VEVOR 3040T. Plus, it works well stronger and thus better than most others. With its spiral flute bits, you can engrave in metal steel, MDF boards, composite boards, and of course wood. It has a 275 by 385 by 60mm XYZ working area. The software and the controls can also be managed through a laptop and not just a desktop.
For its size, it can engrave more materials compared to other routers. The convenience is one big plus since it matches modern technology as it can be controlled through a laptop. It is a pretty good machine overall for its price.
The machines do not have any limit switches so you will have to be careful as you might overtravel. Although it can carve steel, the spindle motor is quite weak so it may take time to work with. Some of the instruction manuals are in Chinese so you may need a translator software to read it.
BobsCNC E3 CNC Router Engraver Kit
Making a lot of research on best CNC routers? Many lists would rate this as their number 1 option. With a 450 by 390 by 85mm working area, it also features a rigid laser cut frame. Its software can also be supported by your own laptop. All the instructions you need to know can be found with the package while additional documents can be found online. As for the router itself, many people would recommend this product whether you are a professional or even a beginner.
Deemed to be the best in the market by many reviews and listicles. It has very helpful and detailed assembly guide full with pictures and easy to read articles. Customer support is second to none so if ever you do have any problems, which can be unlikely, you can always contact them.
It may take a long while to assemble the BobsCNC E3 even if the guide made it simple. There might appear a few problems when installing the software on your laptop although these problems seem to be isolated due to its variation. Beginners may still need some guidance from more experienced people.
CNCShop CNC Router Engraving Machine CNC Engraver Cutting Machine 3020T
This 35 pounds duty machine can surely guarantee you that it is made with some of the best materials. It spindle speed can go up to 300 to 8000 RPM per minute and a carving speed at a maximum 2000 mm with a 200 watts dc motor. Your XYZ working area is a 200mm, 300mm, and 50mm respectively while its work table dimensions are 200 by 300 by 15 mm. The controller of the spindle can easily adjust its speed but cannot actually regulate it. This feature would have been great if it had a feedback loop, especially when using the spindle at lower rates.
As one of the cheaper CNC machines in the market, you get quite a bit more quality to price ratio with the 3020T. We can call this one the best desktop CNC router. Many small time users are satisfied with its usage. Instructions and packaging were clear and understood by many of those who actually bought. If you are looking to cut wood while being on a tight budget, you get what your money’s worth with this one. Many reviews have applauded it for its work on wood.
The control box, unfortunately, does not support netbooks. For you to actually get it to work, you would need a parallel port on a PC. The software is a bit of a lackluster. You may need to get a better one to actually maximize the potential of this machine. As mentioned already, the spindle controller lacks a bit of option if you want to regulate the speed.
Beauty Star CNC Router Machine
Finally, on to the cheapest CNC router on the list, you may need a lot of patience when wanting to try this out. The assembly can be confusing and will definitely take time. It features a the Nema 17 Stepper Motor. The XYZ working area is at 130 by 100 by 40mm while its carving stroke is at 130 by 100mm – great as a desktop CNC. As the company has advertised, this is more of a testing machine so do not expect to actually make things out of it. This CNC Router by Beauty Star was made purely for research and study while being able to make prototypes.
If you are able to assemble it, then this is the perfect machine for making a lot of test runs with your materials. After all, as it was mentioned, it is for study and research. Since it is made for research, the software is pretty straightforward. It can be easily understood by anyone. The fact that you can get a test CNC router machine is a good plus before you start investing on other routers.
Since this is a DIY CNC router machine, this would require a good deal of mechanical knowledge. The screws and other small parts can be confusing. The instructions do not actually come with the package so it is suggested that while waiting for it to arrive, email the company as they will give you the documents needed. When you receive the documents, you will have to bear with the inconsistent parts shown on their video instructions. Note that it is also mostly in Chinese so better to just watch what they do.
As one of the more expensive CNC routers in the market, you still would want to consider getting this one. If you have heard about the CNC Shark, then you would already know how the Piranha would work since this is essentially just a smaller and more compact version of it.