Avid CNC 4x8 PRO4896 Review [2021]- Best 4x8?

Avid CNC 4x8 PRO4896 Review [2021]- Best 4x8?

Avid CNC 4x8 PRO4896 Review [2021]- Best 4x8?

Avid CNC is highly popular among businesses that are looking for affordable yet powerful CNC Machines.

The most popular among the machines offered by Avid CNC is the 4x8 PRO4896 CNC.

PRO4896 is highly preferred by most people when they seek a CNC router that costs under $10k and offers a cutting area of 4'x8'.

This CNC router is bought as bundles, with the frame and linear motion components as one bundle and the controller and electronics kit as a separate bundle.

What this means is that there is tremendous customizability regarding how you build this CNC router.

This is ideal for choosing a system that's sufficient for your needs without overpaying.

MellowPine is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

Avid CNC PRO4896 Review

In this review, I evaluate the Avid PRO4896 CNC router for its size, build quality, frame, linear motion components, electronics, accuracy, software, assembly, and customer support.

1. Size of PRO4896

Avid CNC PRO4896 with base kit and electronics from Avid
Avid CNC PRO4896 with the base kit and electronics from Avid

PRO4896 has a 115 ½ “× 67” footprint that provides a cutting area of 49 ½ “ × 98 ¾ “ which is useful when you are working on large 4’ × 8’ sheets.

This CNC lets you cut workpieces with a maximum thickness of 12 inches.

PRO4896 CNC does not ship with a machine bed, and you need to buy a spoilboard separately. Avid offers the necessary resources to create a spoil board for your workflow.

Alternatively, you can use vacuum hold-down to hold large sheets of materials. You can find plenty of resources to build vacuum hold-down beds for PRO4896 CNC.

Depending on your cutting requirements, Avid CNC offers two different Z-axis travel options that you can choose from, the 8” travel and the 12” travel.

You can choose the 12” travel version if you need to work with really thick workpieces. 12 inches is equivalent to nearly sixteen 18mm boards piled one on top of the other.

2. Material Capability of PRO4896

The PRO4896 CNC can cut foam, balsa, baltic birch plywood hardwood, high-density plastic, MDF, and aluminum.

As an entry-level industrial-grade CNC router, Avid CNC can mill anything you throw at it.

However, if your intention is to primarily mill ferrous metal (like steel) stock, then a benchtop CNC mill might be more ideal.

If you upgrade the Avid PRO4896 CNC router with a plasma torch, you can cut mild steel and stainless steel as well.

Very few CNC brands offer the option to add plasma cutting capability to their machine.

Adding a plasma torch to the Avid PRO4896 is easy with the PRO CNC Plasma Kit from Avid.

In addition to the plasma kit, you'll need to buy a plasma water table and plasma CAM software to complete the plasma add-on.

There are people who have done this add-on very successfully and video guides are available if you wish to do this.

3. Chassis/Frame of PRO4896

Avid CNC PRO4896 base configuration
Avid CNC PRO4896 base configuration

The base frame of PRO4896 CNC consists of a series of heavy-duty extruded aluminum and steel plates. 

A series of cross members are fixed between the extrusions of the base frame, which run horizontally and provide support to the base frame.

The whole arrangement provides rigidity to the frame to support heavy loads while machining. 

The chassis of Avid CNC has a solid build quality and allows you to add powerful and heavy components for upgrades in the long run.

The gantry of Avid PRO4896 CNC comes with a standard width of 67 inches.  

Avid also offers the gantry extrusion with an extended width of 77 inches at an additional cost, it can be attached to its existing risers.

With the extended gantry, you can have a dual Z-axis configuration that lets you use two spindles with different tools over the entire cutting area.

4x8 CNC routers that cost more than Avid PRO 4896 have their frame made from welded steel.

This is a major point of differentiation between Avid and those more expensive CNCs.

Although welded steel is better than the bolted aluminum and steel configuration in Avid, you lose out on flexibility.

This means you can choose to expand your Avid to a 5x10 CNC later if you wish by buying few extra components due to the modular design.

4. Linear Motion

X and Y axes

Gear rack for PRO series CNC from Avid
Gear rack for PRO series CNC from Avid

PRO rack and pinion systems with linear rails are used for linear motion in X and Y axes in the PRO4896 CNC router.

Generally, belt-driven systems are quick but have accuracy issues with large X and Y travels.

Screw-driven systems are accurate but are slow.

A rack and pinion system combines the best of both worlds by being both fast and accurate.

Two stepper motors drive the y-axis gantry, one on each side, to prevent any racking of the gantry.

Without such a dual-drive system, racking can be a concern in 4x8 CNC routers.

The precision of the linear motion components lets you have X and Y axes resolution of 0.0005 inches.

Z-axis

Z-axis ball screw drive on Avid PRO4896
Z-axis ball screw drive on Avid PRO4896

The Z-axis of PRO4896 CNC is driven by precision ball screws, which gives it a resolution of 0.0002 inches.

Ball screw systems are more efficient and have no backlash as compared to lead screws.

However, using ball screws for the Z-axis can cause the Z-axis gantry to drop under load if stepper motors without enough holding torque or brake are chosen.

Avid PRO4896 CNC has an accuracy of 0.005” and repeatability of 0.002” making it a perfect choice for high-precision jobs.

5. Spindle on PRO4896

4 hp plug and play VFD spindle system from Avid
4 hp plug and play VFD spindle system from Avid

Avid allows you to build your own CNC using custom components and this means you can choose the spindle as well.

Avid offers two plug-and-play spindles manufactured by Hiteco. You can choose from them or use a spindle of your own.

One option is a 4hp (3 KW) VFD spindle, which offers a variable speed range of 6,000-24,000 RPM, and ships with ½” ER20 collet.

As an example, on maple hardwood with a 0.16’’ depth-of-cut and feed rate of 390 ipm, this router achieves a maximum material removal rate (MRR) of 95 cubic inches.

The 4 hp spindle requires a single-phase power supply for its operation. Although it draws a current of approximately 11 A, Avid CNC recommends a separate 30 A socket.

If you need increased production with improved MRR, you can consider the 8.7 hp (6.5 KW) spindle, which offers a variable speed range between 1,000-24,000 RPM.

This spindle provides constant torque at lower RPM between 1,000-18,000, letting you cut non-ferrous metals.

It ships with ½”  ER32 collet, which can fit cutting tools of shank diameter up to ¾ inches.

On maple hardwood with a 0.37” depth-of-cut and feed rate of 390 ipm, this router achieves a maximum material removal rate (MRR) of 219 cubic inches.

Avid CNC recommends a 30 A three-phase circuit for this spindle.

However, if you use it with a single-phase connection, the maximum power you get is around 6.4 hp, and the material removal rate is reduced by 27%.

If you are paying for the 8.7 hp spindle, I strongly recommend you supply 3 phase power to it to leverage its full power.

If you don't already have 3 phase power supply in your shop, consider the cost of setting this up in your machine budget.

The maximum output from a spindle depends on the material, type of cutting tool, and cutting parameters you choose for your production.

Choosing a spindle for your CNC is a function of spindle cost, materials you intend to cut, and the power/RPM you need.

Both the spindles from Avid are air-cooled and offer reliable cutting while operating for long durations, especially at lower RPM.

The spindle is connected with its VFD using an M23 connection, which is IP67-rated that makes it dust and water-resistant.

Both NEMA 23 and NEMA 34 CNC controllers from Avid CNC are spindle-ready; hence you will not require any additional interface to connect the controller and VFD system.

6. ATC Spindle for Avid CNC PRO4896

If you are running a production facility and you constantly use multiple tools, you should consider the S30 ATC spindle upgrade from CNC Depot.

The ATC spindle automates tool changing, which can considerably improve the efficiency of your workflow.

Without an ATC, you need to manually change the tool and Zero the spindle each time.

Although it's expensive, it doesn't cost nearly as much as the ATC upgrades of other CNC brands.

This is a turnkey package that you can install into your Avid CNC machine.

CNC Depot gets the Spindle Control Box from Avid CNC and modifies it to convert the whole package into an ATC.

If you buy the S30, you don't need to buy the spindle from Avid CNC, however, you'll need to buy the spindle mount.

Also, note that the ATC system is pneumatically powered, so you need to supply an air compressor capable of 100 psi output at 5-6 cfm.

If you need something more powerful than Avid PRO4896, then check this- Best 4x8 CNC Routers [2021]

7. Controller and Electronics

You can choose to go with the plug-and-play control system offered by Avid or build a control system of your own.

Motors

NEMA 34 and NEMA 23 stepper motors from Avid CNC
NEMA 34 and NEMA 23 stepper motors from Avid CNC

Avid offers two low inductance stepper motors, NEMA 23 and NEMA 34, which offer different rapid traverse speeds.

The NEMA 23 type stepper motor is suitable for light production and is available in two shaft options.

The stepper motor with the ¼” shaft provides a holding torque of 380 oz-in, and with a ⅜” shaft, you get a torque of 420 oz-in.

It can offer a maximum rapid speed of 500 ipm with a cutting speed of up to 250 ipm.

If your production demands medium to high production rates, I suggest the NEMA 34 type stepper motor for your CNC machine. 

It comes with a ½ ‘’ shaft, which provides a holding torque of 960 oz-in and offers a maximum rapid speed of 1000 ipm with a cutting speed of up to 500 ipm.

These are impressive speeds and you really need them because of the large travels required in a 4x8 CNC machine.

Controller

Plug and play control system from Avid CNC
Plug and play control system from Avid CNC

Avid offers a plug-and-play control system with a plug-in emergency stop unit.

A CRP5056 stepper motor driver drives the NEMA 23 type stepper motors and can handle up to 5A.

It is a 32-bit driver with features like selectable resolutions, short-circuits, and over-voltage protection.

A CRP8070 stepper motor driver powers the NEMA 34 type stepper motors and can handle up to 7A.

Both stepper drives come with integrated heat sinks for excellent heat management.

The breakout board of the Avid CNC control system is the Ethernet SmoothStepper board.

Ethernet SmoothStepper has a DSP processor to handle the precise step timing and direction signals to operate stepper motors.

Avid offers a 5th drive upgrade for both controllers. 

This upgrade includes an additional driver to control an additional independent axis of CNC like an additional Z-axis or rotary positioner.

If you plan on adding a rotary axis, it's essential to get this.

Although the controller boards ship with standard length stepper motors cables, you can also purchase additional cables for your Avid CNC router with size expansion.

The controller box houses a spindle relay, ports for proximity sensors, control board, breakout board, stepper motor driver, and power supply module in a steel NEMA enclosure.

This NEMA enclosure also protects electronic components from the dust generated while operating the CNC machine.

Avid CNC also offers a DIY electronics kit with all necessary components for NEMA 23 and NEMA 34 configurations, excluding the NEMA enclosure.

8. Software for Avid PRO4896

Mach 4 software window
Mach 4 software window

Control Software

Avid recommends Mach4 CNC motion control software for the PRO4896.

The Avid plug-and-play control system ships with an Ethernet SmoothStepper.

With the Ethernet SmoothStpper, Mach3 or Mach4 is your only option.

I highly recommend you stick with Mach3 or Mach4 if you get the PRO4896, and not try to build it on GRBL.

Mach4 is robust and is one of the best PC-based software systems for CNC control.

With its flexible architecture and simple user interface, Mach4 is easy to set up and use with Avid PRO4896. 

Although Mach4 is a parallel-port-based software, the Ethernet SmoothStepper (ESS) breakout board acts as a converter.

You can connect to ESS using an ethernet cable, which avoids the need to have a parallel port in your PC.

If you are using your CNC for personal use, you should choose Mach4 Hobby, and its perpetual license will cost you around $200.

For users, who are working in manufacturing environments, I suggest the Mach4 Industrial software package.

Its perpetual license will cost you around $1,400.

The industrial version includes additional features like Macro B G-code functions, screw mapping, and tool life management.

CAD/CAM Software

With Mach4, CAM capability can be added to it with an add-on called LazyCAM.

With its improved backlash control and accurate screw mapping, you get precise cuts. It also lets you manually jog the router without any leg.

To use this software with an external controller, you will need a PC running on Windows XP or higher versions with a video card of 512 MB and 1 GB of RAM.

Alternatively, you can use any other CAD/CAM software to use with this CNC router.

Avid recommends SheetCAM software for controlling the plasma torch.

It is a feature-packed plasma cutting software, and its perpetual license costs you around $150.

You can use it on computers running Windows or Linux operating systems.

Its features like automatic cut ordering and gradual torch ramping provide you with precise cuts on workpieces.

9. Upgrades

Avid CNCs are built for customizability and therefore you get to choose from several upgrades.

Thanks to the Avid PRO CNC's frame expansion capabilities, you can upgrade it to get a larger cutting area if you require it down the road.

Avid offers expansion kits for this.

You can expand the frame of Avid PRO4896 CNC to get a cutting area of up to 5’ × 10’, which lets you feed large uncut sheets of plywood or 5'x10' sheets.

You will need longer extrusions for the leg kit and base frame, gear rack and rails for linear motion, cable tracks for cable management, and more leg gussets for frame expansion.

The support team from Avid CNC will help you with the expansion and guide you to the right components that you need for your upgrade.

10. Laser Module for PRO4896

PLH3D laser kit from Opt Lasers for Avid PRO CNC
PLH3D laser kit from Opt Lasers for Avid PRO CNC

Avid does not provide a laser upgrade kit for the PRO4896 CNC router. You can purchase a third-party laser kit.

Opt Lasers offers the PLH3D laser engraving kit that is popular with Avid CNC router users.

The laser kits use NUBM44 450 nm laser diodes in 6W and 15W laser head power options. 

The maximum thickness of the cutting material can be determined by the type of material and optical power of your laser.

The 6W laser lets you cut soft materials like plastic, wood, rubber, leather, and cardstock papers with a thickness of up to 4 mm.

With the 15W laser, you can cut aluminum, brass, and copper. Additionally, this laser lets you cut soft materials with a maximum thickness of 6 mm. 

The laser head can be mounted underneath the spindle and the PLH3D-CNC laser adapter box can be mounted at the end of the gantry.

The laser adapter box gets the control signals from the Ethernet Smooth Stepper of Avid controller box and is compatible with Mach4 CNC software.

11. Accessories

Avid CNC offers various accessories that enhance the functionality of PRO4896.

Leg Kit

Leg Kit from Avid CNC
Leg Kit from Avid CNC

The leg kit provides rigid support to the CNC machine.

It has sturdy legs made from rugged aluminum, and steel gussets provide stiffness to it. The kit is available for base frames having area of 4'x2', 4'x4', 4'x8', and 5'x10'.

Along with all necessary fasteners, the kit also comes with a horizontal bar to mount VFD and controller box of PRO4896.

Auto Z and Corner finding touch plate

Auto Z and corner finding touch plate
Auto Z and corner finding touch plate

The Auto Z and Corner finding touch plate helps you set the cutting tool height and workpiece corners.

It comes with an M12 connector pin and is compatible with NEMA 23 and NEMA 34 controller boxes from Avid CNC.

Proximity Sensor kit

Pepper + Fuchs Proximity Sensor Kit
Pepper + Fuchs Proximity Sensor Kit

The proximity kit includes NPN inductive switches manufactured by Pepperl + Fuchs Inc.

These homing switches are helpful to square the gantry and also prevent it from crashing into the frame.

With its operating temperature range of -25 to 70 degrees, you can also use them during challenging jobs.

For cutting areas larger than 5'x5' you need to purchase additional cables.

Composite Nailer

Composite nailer from Raptor
Composite nailer from Raptor

If you are looking for an accessory, which can protect your clamping tool from accidental damage by router bit, Composite Nailer is a perfect choice for you.

Raptor manufactures these nailers for Avid and offers a safe and quick clamping method to hold sheets on a spoilboard using polymer composite nails.

The router can cut right through these composite nails without any damage to it.

You can use these nails with materials like MDF, softwood, plywood, and thin and thick hardwood board. To use a thick board, make sure to pilot the hole first.

Once the CNC job is complete, you can easily remove the remnants from the spoilboard.

This unit costs you roughly $314. 

The nails need to be purchased separately, and a box of it costs you around $39.

Dust Shoe

Standard split shoe for Avid CNC from Kent CNC
Standard split shoe for Avid CNC from Kent CNC

Avid does not offer dust shoes for its CNCs.

However, you can use the open-source Universal CNC Dust Shoe project from Avid CNC to create a custom dust shoe for PRO4896.

Alternatively, Kent CNC provides a dust boot for Avid CNC that costs you around $150.

Kent CNC provides STANDARD split-shoe, which is compatible with various routers and spindles.

Its transparent top lets you view the cutting process.

With its 4” adaptor, you can attach a hose from any standard shop vac/dedicated dust collector.

It's essential that you build a functioning dust collection system for your Avid CNC machine since you'll work a lot with plywood sheets.

Plasma kit

PRO CNC plasma kit from Avid CNC
PRO CNC plasma kit from Avid CNC

Avid offers a plasma kit, which you can easily configure with PRO4896 for plasma cutting.

The plasma kit does not ship with a plasma torch, and you have to purchase it separately.

Avid recommends Powermax45, Powermax45 XP, Powermax65, and Powermax85 plasma torches, manufactured by Hypertherm. 

With powerful plasma torches, you can get a maximum cutting speed of 200 ipm on a workpiece of ¼ “ thick mild steel.

The kit comes with a Torch Height Control (THC) system to adjust the Z-travel height to offer quality cuts on materials with uneven surfaces.

To use a plasma torch with Avid CNC, you will need a plasma water table to reduce heat and noise generated while cutting.

Rotary Axis

Rotary kit from Avid CNC
Rotary kit from Avid CNC

Avid CNC offers a rotary axis kit for indexing and cutting on cylindrical workpieces.

The frame of the rotary axis is made of aluminum and has counterbored tapped holes for easy installation on the machine bed.

With an all-metal frame design, it maintains the precision alignment between chuck and tailstock. The kit also integrates a homing sensor to assist in workpiece alignment.

Its profile linear guide rails allow quick and easy workpiece setup.

For the rotary system, you can choose either NEMA 23 type or NEMA 34 type configurations. 

Both motors can provide holding torque for indexing and sufficient speed for rotary cutting operations in the production environment.

You can select the rotary axis based on machine size, holding torque, mounting orientation, and workpiece dimension. 

12. Assembly

Avid PRO4896 CNC is a modular machine and it is shipped as parts that need to be assembled.

The assembly is time-consuming but it helps you learn about the workings of the machine which helps in the long run.

Avid provides excellent assembly instructions for the entire assembly process and also provides manuals for accessories like leg kit, gantry, and cable track. 

Once you have completed the physical installation, you need to install and configure the Mach4 software to control the CNC.

The entire assembly process can take up to 40 hours to complete, but it is worth the time and effort as it gives you an unbeatable cutting performance.

13. Community

Avid is highly popular among people who use their CNCs to make money.

This means there is also a large community of users for this machine.

You can also find an abundant number of videos on Avid CNC on YouTube as well, as it's highly popular among woodworking YouTubers.

There is no dedicated forum for Avid CNC, which is a bit disappointing.

Avid features CNC-related videos, customized build logs, and project designs from their customers on their website itself.

14. Customer Support

Avid offers excellent customer support from purchasing to production.

The support team provides call, email, and screen sharing services to solve your problems related to Avid CNCs.

Additionally, Avid offers a one-year warranty on all mechanical parts and electronics against manufacturing defects.

The tremendous customer support quality offered by Avid has been key to building a great reputation for the brand.

15. Final Thoughts

After starting out under the name "CNC Router Parts" in 2008 (Rebranded in 2019), Avid CNC has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

Several brands competed with Avid a decade ago, and very few still remain in the CNC space.

Avid has managed to survive and thrive in the market with high-quality products.

Curiously, they spend very little on marketing and choose to let their products speak for themselves.

The PRO4896 is the complete package you need for taking your CNC business to the next level.

It's the best 4x8 CNC machine under $10k and offers extreme customizability to tailor the machine to your requirements.

If you have the budget for it, there's no need to hesitate to buy this CNC router.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Instead of using a leg kit, can I design a custom stand for my PRO4896?

Yes, you will need steel extrusions for legs and a 4' x 8' MDF sheet to make the spoilboard. You can also design some additional storage space underneath the stand top.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNCs and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNCs and writing about CNCs for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNCs. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

DIY Profile
John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNCs and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNCs and writing about CNCs for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNCs. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

Thanks for signing up.
Some error occured. Please try again.

Comments

Add Your Comment