CNC router, or what is called Computer Numerical Control, is a procedure through which you can automatically process 3-dimensional cutting and milling. Having the best cnc router gives you the benefit of producing factory-grade work in a small workspace or home. It takes help from the computer or software which directs the predetermined cutting process that further leads to delivery of precise and consistent work with the good amount of reproduction and the higher level of productivity rates, as and when desired.
If you have a cnc router you can easily work with wood, plastic, foam and other forms of materials for making carvings, decorations, signboards, panels, furniture, moldings, frames among the various kinds of DIY produces.
Best CNC Router 2020
We have tested 30+ CNC routers and rated them according to their capabilities, software compatibility, ATC, spindle and drive system.
Here are the best CNC routers ranked, in order:
The BobsCNC router is a home-built engraver kit that is ideal for beginner or students of CNC unit. One of the primary materials in this CNC router is solid wood. You can benefit from a 17.7 x 15.3 x 3.3 inch cutting area and further comes with a DEWALT 660 router.
The gantry and cutting head runs on a rail system which supports SG20U. The router is controlled by a microprocessor which is Arduino-based which runs Grbl motion-control software. You will require to connect it to a computer in order to run this CNC router and it is compatible with Windows, OSX, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.
Assembling and mounting this kit is a task in itself but it will also be a good experience for you, even with the added effort. The price is also considerably affordable considering the size of the machine and it also comes with a router.
The built up is made of solid wood which has its own benefits, however the one downside is that you won’t be able to remove flex from the gantry and bed. However, wood is also eco-friendly and it is also easier to work with it for most users who like to modify the machine. For beginners, it is a fun machine which can provide great level of learning.
- It is easy to assemble.
- It is a great for beginners.
- The brand provides good customer support.
- It is compatible with Windows, OSX, Linux, and Raspberry Pi.
MYSWEETY CNC router comes in a kit which comprises of all its parts. It is constructed with aluminium along with a few plastic components. This CNC router further comes with a 3 axis capability which can run on 110 or 240 Volts and gives you work area of 6.5 x 7.5 x 2 inch.
The cutting plate is also made of aluminium and the spindle can run up to the speed of 7000 RPM which is controlled by 3 two-phase 1.3 amp stepper motors. The process of assembling this router kit is pretty easy and you can also do with support available online.
The kit also comes with a Gblr controller software which can run on a number of programs for tool path creation.
What we liked the most about this router is that it is affordably priced and appears as a scaled down model of the high end industrial machine. You will enjoy assembling the machine and then witnessing it operate.
The process of setting it up is a learning experience in itself as you have to connect it to a computer and a tool path software to make it work. The kit comes with PCB cutting bits, so in case you want to cut wood or other such materials you have to buy bits separately.
Also expect to purchase LED readout and an ER 11 power supply separately to make the CNC router work properly.
The MYSWEETY CNC router is a great value for money if you are looking for a basic level CNC router for your small hobby work or it can also be used as an educational gift for school students.
- It is ideal for beginners or those interested in small hobby work.
- It can run a number of materials.
- It is constructed with aluminium and comes with a 3 axis capability.
- It is compatible with most of the operating systems including Windows, OSX and Linux.
As a CNC machine tool its quite a lightweight. However, you can’t use this router to cut the metals. The CNC 3018 Pro GRBL does a perfect job of cutting woods as well as plastics now, if you’re a beginner and looking for a simple wood engraving tool than you must go with this one.
You can learn the basics of the CNC machining quickly. You need to assemble the device properly, and you’ll get an explicit instruction, and it’s easy to understand. It took time, and after some of the crashes, you’ll finally get hands on!
Moreover, the components which don’t need to be significantly positioned reduces the difficulty of assembly and enhance the working accuracy of the machine. You can raise the base height to 4cm for better stability. Now with an integrated mainboard and custom software, the communication between the software as well as hardware is seamless by design.
Now, if we talk about the software, then the Genmitsu uses GRBL, high performance, open-source software for controlling movement and runs on Arduino. The dependability, as well as simplicity, makes GRBL a industry standard. Even when you get stuck you can simply contact the support system.
- It can engrave Plastic, Wood, Acrylic, PVC, PCB, and Wood like materials.
- The working area of the machine is 30cm x 18cm x 4.5cm.
- Made with robust Phenolic resin and Aluminium body.
- You don’t need to connect the computer simply download the needed craving files into the off-line controller.
The CNC Piranha XL comes with an extended work surface and most of its features are similar to the CNC Shark HD but the best part about it is that it comes at a much lower cost.
The touchscreen controller with it has an auto-edge and auto-sensing capabilities, which are an added bonus on the Virtual Zero software that helps to map the work surface. Two extra features that makes it a steal deal package are VCarve Desktop V9.0 and the Vector Art 3D software.
This CNC router comes with an XYZ travel dimension of 12 x 24 x 4 inches and it can run all types of palm-style routers such as Porter Cable, Dewalt, Bosch among others. It is compatible with most kinds of materials but majorly wood, plastics and soft metals.
Alike the previous two in our list, this CNC router also does not need to be connected to a computer – all you need to do is create a design, save it on a flash drive and plug it with a USB port and you can run the program.
The best part about this CNC router from Piranha is that it comes pre-assembled and weighs only 75 pounds, making it fairly stable and portable. The overall design and built up is pretty simple and neat and does not come with excess cabling.
There won’t be much of a trouble operating it as it is basically plug and play with a slight adjustment. The machine is overall convenient and easy to use and it is highly recommended for those who are looking for a compact CNC router with all the basics features at an affordable price.
- It provides a plethora of features at an affordable rate.
- It comes with a touchscreen controller.
- It does not need to be connected to a computer.
- It is lightweight and comes pre-assembled.
- Made in USA.
The FX model of Piranha is a base model CNC router which has been put out by Next Wave Automation. It not big in its size with its configuration being a 12 x 18 inch table and a 12 x 13 x 3 inches of XYZ travel. Alike its higher end models, this one can also run Bosch, Dewalt and other similar palm routers.
It is also supportive of the 3D Digital Duplicator touch probe that can allow tracing and duplication of objects to about 0.001 inch of details. This CNC router comes with a touchscreen control and some more operating features that you will find in the high end models of Shark and Piranha XL.
If you are into specialising of soft materials you could save money by opting for this model from Piranha as the only major difference between this machine and other high end Next wave machines is the rigidity and size. You will enjoy the advantages of most of the expensive CNC routers in this machine.
However the only point of concern is its level of accuracy that is compromised because of the movement in the gantry. If you want to focus on working on softer and lighter materials at a considerably slow speed, the bit size can be minimized as well.
However the one level of backlash with it would be that it might wobble at acceptable levels. It is overall a good CNC router which is affordable and at the same time is compatible with your application.
- It is a good balance of capability and affordable price.
- It comes with a touchscreen controller.
- It has all the necessary features that you will find in most high end models.
- Supports 3D Digital Duplicator touch probe.
- Made in USA.
CNC Router Kits 2418 GRBL Control is for those who are professionals. This one requires self-assembly and commissioning. S, if you’re a beginner and looking for an engraving machine that is easy to use then this one is not the best choice for you.
However, if you’re a professional who is looking for a heavy duty wood engraving machine, then you must go with this one. The machine has the working area of 24cm x 18cm x 4.5cm and works with the Software 2418 GRBL Control. The software supports Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8 as well as Linux.
The router comes with high speed 775 spindle motor powered with 7000rpm. Do remember to use developed engraving integrated mainboard with customized software, and the features are quite better than similar models. The only thing which we don’t find in it is the laser module.
- The router comes with aluminum as well as the plastic body.
- The router is compact in size, lightweight, USB Interface, and comes with GRBL control systems.
- You can engrave plastic, wood, acrylic, PVC, PCB, as well as Wood like materials.
- It is one of the most straightforward routers which can be assembled single-handed. Just follow the instruction.
The CNC Shark HD 4 is a next wave automation CNC router that is also an upgrade of the popular Shark Pro Plus. It comes with a plethora of amazing features that an ardent DIY CNC user will greatly enjoy using.
Two of the best features in this upgrade is the heavy duty reinforced gantry and the interlocking aluminium table – this helps to reduce the backlash that were caused in the previous models of the Shark CNC routers. It also comes with a colored touchscreen pendant controller which is easy to use just as a smartphone and you can run programs on it via a flash drive.
It has been designed majorly for commercial purposes and it has the capacity to handle large routers as well such as the Porter Cable 890. Bosch 1617 or even the Next Wave Automation water cooled spindle.
Two cool features with this CNC router are auto-edge and auto-sensing which help to measure and locate the workpiece and then identifying the start point wherever it is located in the 25 x 25 inch bed.
It further comes with Virtual Zero software that can identify and map the work surface with the highest level of accuracy. You will also avail the added bonus of VCare Desktop V9.0 Design Software and Vector Art 3D Sampler Pack along with your purchase.
The stability of this machine which weighs 187 pounds will surprise you and it comes with a simple design without too many attachments and parts. You do not even need to connect it to a computer, no matter how many repetitive runs you make. Hence this CNC router is one of the top ones in our list!
- It is made for commercial purpose majorly with a reinforced build.
- It comes with a touchscreen controller.
- It is compatible with any large router.
- Made in USA.
- Virtual Zero Software to map the work surface.
The JFT 3040 is a Chinese brand which provides you with an industrial grade CNC router that includes features such as all-metal built-up, a 22 x 14 inch work bed, a 11.8 x 15.74 x 3.5 inches of XYZ travel.
It further comes with a 110-volt water cooled machine that can keep the machine cool and make it consistently stable even with longer and continuous hours of work. The spindle can turn at a speed of up to 24000 RPM, and it can also engrave at a speed of 2-137 inches per minute.
There is a separate housing which consists of the control unit and it can easily operate on various types of software that also includes ArtCAM, CopperCAM among others.
This CNC router from JFT is beautiful in its design and appearance and at the same time sturdy in its construction as it is made with hard-alloy aluminium gantry along with a 16mm ball screw look ideal for most kind of industrial usage, further making the machine rigid as well.
You have to go through the user manual to set up and operate the machine but once it is running it can easily overthrow most CNC routers in terms of their power and speed. To add to that, this machine does not make much noise when it is running.
Lastly, this machine is easy to use and comes at an affordable price ideal for both hobbyist as well as pro level users.
- It comes with a heavy duty construction.
- It is rigid and stable in its power and speed.
- It comes with a water cooled operation.
- It is compatible with most operating systems.
- Spindle can turn the speed up to 24000 RPM.
Things To Look at Before Purchasing CNC Router…
CNC router (Or Computer Numerical Control router) is a coded machine guidance system that is used to produce complex shapes. They are used in endless applications. If you regularly slice through thick sheets of wood, metal, plastic, and many other tough materials, then investing in high-quality CNC routers is an absolute must.
Buying CNC Routers, where to start? Amidst all the brands available, choosing the right one for your needs is not easy. This buyers guide will walk you through all the steps of buying a machine to fit your needs. Take a look:
1. Capabilities of the Machine
One of the best capabilities of these machines is Consistency. Whether you are producing one workpiece or hundred, the quality of work will be the same. Once the settings are in place, the job is half done. Just a little supervision is required. A variety of CNC routers are available to suit your needs. Be it Mid-range, Industrial or Multi-Axis CNC Routers; every machine has its use and purpose.
2. Availability of Spare Parts
It’s evident that due to regular wear and tear, the parts of the device needs replacement. The router bits, drill bits, and profile cutters do require replacement as they get exposed to slow damage over regular use. Therefore, before you make a purchase, find out whether its spare parts will be readily available or not. Note down a few locations or places where you can find spare parts for the machine you purchase.
3. Software Compatibility
These routers run off a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) program, which is a design software program. The software creates program codes to run a machine tool. If you are doing the simple 2D cutting, a basic g-code writing software will serve the purpose. In case you are manufacturing complex parts, investing in advanced software is worth the investment. Advanced software increases productivity and provides efficiency and accuracy.
Size consideration is utmost vital before you make a purchase. Before buying one, you need to have the idea about what kind of business you want to create with the CNC machine and the size of your budget. The size of your workplace and the type of things (small or large) you are going to cut, mainly affects the size of the CNC router. If we talk about the older models of CNC routers, they are extremely heavy, occupy a lot of space and performs better. However, the newer desktop CNC routers are a smaller and sleek version. If your business requires frequent transportation of the machine, go for the one that weighs the least.
5. Table Size
A router table gives you hands-free versatility and ensures maximum workpiece control during the cut. It gets hugely determined by the cutting options, the kind of material you’ll be cutting on the router, and Pendulum Processing. Usually, people buy the standard 8′ X 4″ or 10′ x 5′ sizes. But, there’s no point in purchasing a 4′ x 8′ model when you’re cutting 5′ x 10′ MDF sheets. Similarly, extended gantry and Pendulum processing is only possible on larger router table sizes.
6. Drive System
The drive system technology has come a long way over the years. There are 3 types of drive systems; Rack and Pinion, Lead Screw, and ballscrew. Usually, lower cost CNC routing systems feature Rack and Pinion system while high priced systems are Ball Screw driven. Both are good, and the choice depends upon your application. Rack-and-pinion drives are ideally suited for a long axis while Ball screws are right for short axis.
7. Motor System
The two primary motor classes used with CNC machines are stepper motors and servo motors. Each one has its niche. Servo motors are very energy- efficient and have high torque to inertia ratio that allows rapid load acceleration. Stepper motors have high torque with the low/ mid speed range. Steppers motors are inexpensive and easy to use as compared to servo motors.
Spindles are the motor that cuts the metal using the tool. Check the horse speed you need for your projects. Buy the router that has the right spindle options for the types of projects you want to do. Also, check the cooling system of the router’s spindle. Choose either water cooling or air cooling, depending upon the projects you tackle.
9. Spindle vs. Router
Spindles are more powerful, can run all day long and provide more accurate cutting. A spindle is much quieter in operation than the router. So if you don’t require a heavy cut, then go for a router. However, for production purposes, a spindle is highly recommended.
10. Automatic Tool Changing System (ATC)
ATC changes the tool very quickly, thereby reducing the cycle time of tool operations. If your application requires using more than one tool, then go for the router with an efficient ATC system. It also ensures the user’s safety during tool change operations, as the complete tool changing process gets mechanised.
The less expensive option uses T-slot clamps while the more expensive option is a vacuum system; a zoned vacuum system is ideal. Check for how much vacuum pressure the machine has and how well the table holds down material.
12. Dust Collection
CNC routers make a lot of sawdust. If not controlled properly, it adversely affects other machine components. Therefore, the clearing of dust regularly is essential. Vacuum Systems are convenient as they effectively clean up the entire area of operation. You can also use dust collectors for the same. However, both differ in functioning. The vacuum systems provide precision and work on high pressure, low volume basis, and dust collectors generally the opposite. Choose the one depending on how much and the kind of dust that gets created.
13. Ease of Service
Be familiar with the brand you purchase and make sure to buy the one that has excellent customer service. Service and support on the machine, later for replacements is also essential.
14. Price-to-Quality Ratio
To buy a good quality CNC router, you have to shed out a lot of money. The quality of features, brand, size, and various other factors also determine the price. Keep in mind all these factors before buying one, and don’t exceed the maximum amount you can afford. Consult different dealers and check out various other brands, before making the decision.
By now you might have realised that the price range of CNC routers is a broad one but the tools are simple and easy to use. The money you invest in the best CNC router will make your operational work easier and more efficient but mind you, the cost could go up a few notch depending on the built up and operational characteristics that brings about the required precision and accuracy. If you are the kind who enjoys CNC work, you will sooner or later outgrow the lower end models so it is advisable to see how much learning will you need and how well can you invest the money in it that comes with the features ideal for your purpose.