Best Cheap CNC Machines [2021] that are Reliable

Best Cheap CNC Machines [2021] that are Reliable

Best Cheap CNC Machines [2021] that are Reliable

If you are looking for CNC machines that let you do CNC cutting without cutting a hole in your pocket, this guide will show you the best options.

Cheap need not necessarily mean low-quality.

The machines in this list are the most affordable CNC machines that you can buy in 2021 without compromising on quality.

I came up with this list after carefully considering their size, price, value for money, build quality, ease of use, and quality of customer support.

Most of these machines are best suited for beginners and hobbyists.

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

These are the best cheap CNC machines available today [2021]:

CNC MachineWork AreaPrice
1MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro-M11.8” x 7.1”Check on Amazon
2Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer11.8” x 7.1”Check on Amazon
3Maslow CNC Router Kit4' x 8'Check on Amazon
4BobsCNC Evolution 316" x 18"Check on Amazon
5Ooznest Workbee11.81” x 10.63”Check Official Website

Best Cheap CNC Machines [2021]

Although these machines are the most affordable among hobby CNCs, I have chosen only those machines which have a good reputation for being reliable.

I also considered the Sainsmart Genmitsu PROVerXL 4030 CNC Router for this review.

However, the BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC router costs the same as the Genmitsu 4030 and is a better machine in many ways. Hence it didn't make the list.

Among the machines in this list, MYSWEETY 3018 and Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 are CNC engravers while BobsCNC Evolution 3 and Ooznest Workbee are desktop CNC machines.

Maslow CNC is in a category of its own.

1. MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro-M-Most Affordable CNC

MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro-M
MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro-M
Work area11.8” x 7.1” x 1.8”
Footprint15.7” x 13” x 9.4”
Linear MotionLead screws
Assembly2-3 hours

Quick summary of MySweety 3018 Pro-M

MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro-M is a CNC engraving machine that is good for beginners and small-scale engraving work.

MYSWEETY is popular for making affordable CNC machines and CNC components such as spindles.

They also sell the 3018 Pro CNC which costs around 3$ less than the Pro-M but that model lacks the transparent acrylic baffles provided on the sides.

If you need a CNC laser engraver you can check out their laser engravers which cost slightly more than the regular ones.

Size and build

It has a footprint of 15.7” x 13” x 9.4” and is quite similar to the Genmitsu in terms of the area it covers. 

This CNC engraver weighs around 15 lbs and can be easily accommodated on a shelf for storage.

You can process workpieces with a dimension less than 11.8” x 7.1” x 1.8” on this CNC engraver. to

The frame is made of aluminum and the work bed is made of aluminum profiles with slots for work-holding.

Linear Motion

All three axes on the 3018 Pro-M are driven by leadscrews using stepper motors.

The stepper motors used are rated at 12 V and draws a current of 1.33 A giving you a torque of 2.2 lb-in.

Spindle

The spindle used on this engraver is the 775 type that is similar to the one used on Genmitsu.

However, it has a higher speed of 10,000 RPM than the spindle on Genmitsu.

The spindle comes with an ER11 collet that has a clamping range that lets you use tools with a shank diameter of 0.02” to 0.276”

Controller and electronics

The kit comes with a GRBL based control board and DRV8825 stepper drivers.

It also has an offline controller that lets you use the engraver without connecting it to a computer.

You can upload G-codes for your design on a memory stick and plug the memory stick into the offline controller to run your engraver without a computer.

Additionally, if you want to control the engraver with your computer you can connect the controller to the computer using a USB cable.

Software

MYSWEETY CNC 3018 Pro-M does not come with any software and you can use any paid or free software with this engraver.

For controlling the engraver you will need software that supports GRBL based controllers. 

A couple of free control software for GRBL based controllers are GRBL Candle and UGS, which you can use with this machine.

Assembly

The kit needs to be assembled and can take around 2-3 hours to complete.

Additionally, you will need to make fine adjustments to achieve good accuracy with this engraver.

A drawback of this engraver is that it lacks proper documentation to help you through the assembly process.

Community and Support

There is no US-based customer support team for this CNC engraver and you will need to mail them for any queries.

They do not provide phone support but overall the support is better than most of the generic 3018 CNC machines in the market.

Although its a chinese CNC machine, for those just getting into hobby CNC, MYSWEETY is the most affordable and realistic option today.

2. SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer- Best Cheap CNC Machine

SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver with the offline control unit
SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer
Work area10.2” x 6.1” x 1.4"
Footprint15.7” x 13.0”
Linear MotionLead screw
Assembly2 hours

Quick summary of SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer

SainSmart is the first CNC brand that packaged the no-name generic 3018 CNC into a branded CNC machine.

With the 3018-PROVer, Sainsmart offers a CNC engraver that's affordable by keeping the price range close to what you expect in a desktop CNC engraver.

At the same time you get decent customer support, support for spare parts, accessories and upgrades which is rare for 3018 CNCs.

It is a great machine for beginners who want to learn about CNC machines before moving on to professional CNC routers.

Size and build

The Genmitsu 3018-PROVer is a desktop machine and has a 16.5" x 13.4" footprint which is ideal for placing on most desks.

It needs a clearance of 9.4” on the top of your desk to place it.

The size of the machine allows you to store it on your shelf when not in use.

You get an effective cutting area of 10.2” x 6.1” on which you can engrave workpieces with a maximum thickness of 1.4 inches.

The name 3018 stands for the 30 cm x 18 cm cutting area the 3018-PRO provides.

The frame is made of aluminum which gives it good rigidity for engraving.

The sides of PROVer has transparent baffles that protects you from chips and allows you to view the cutting process safely.

Linear Motion

All the three axes move using a lead screw mechanism that is driven by 12 V stepper motors and has a maximum torque of 2.2 lb-in.

Spindle

The Genmistsu 775 spindle used on the 3018-PROVer is a basic CNC spindle.

The 775 spindle is good for engraving on soft materials like wood and plastics.

It can spool up to a maximum speed of 9,000 RPM at 36 V and uses an ER11 collet that can clamp tools with a shank diameter between 0.02” and 0.276”.

However, if you want to engrave on aluminum you must consider the drop in spindle upgrade from Genmitsu that can go up to speeds of 20,000 RPM.

Controller and electronics

Genmitsu uses its proprietary control board with GRBL 1.1 firmware for the 3018-PROVer.

It supports laser modules, 3 stepper motors, and a spindle.

It can supply a maximum power of 150W for the spindle and the stepper drivers can handle up to 2A of current at 12V.

The controller is GRBL based and connects with your computer via USB cable.

You can use any G-code sending software to operate this CNC machine.

The stepper motor driver used is the Toshiba TB6S109 which is silent compared to stepper drivers used in other 3018 CNCs.

You can use 3018-PROVer without a computer as it comes with an offline controller.

All the three axes on the PROVer come with limit switches that prevent the gantry from crashing into the frame.

The offline controller has a 1.8” screen which gives you complete control over the machine. You can run G-code directly from a memory stick using the offline controller.

SainSmart has also provided an emergency stop button on the side of the PROVer which lets you stop the machine in case of any emergencies.

Software

Genmitsu 3018-PROVer comes with a three-month free subscription to CARVECO CAM and design software.

CARVECO is easy to use and learn and is a good starting point for beginners.

However, if you do not want to pay for CARVECO after three months, you can use any free CNC software to make designs and generate toolpaths.

Good G-code sending software programs to pair with Genmitsu 3018-PROVer are the Universal Gcode Sender and the GRBL Candle.

If you are a beginner it's better to use free software for CNC to learn the basics and then move on to the paid software with better features.

This CNC machine is compatible with most operating systems like Windows XP, Windows 7 32/64 bits, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OS.

Upgrades

SainSmart offers several upgrades for the Genmitsu 3018-PROVer that improve the capabilities of the machine.

  1. Genmitsu GS-775M Spindle

This is a spindle upgrade for the 3018-PROVer that allows you to engrave on aluminum.

It is a 24V, 20,000 RPM spindle that has been designed to be a drop-in replacement for the spindle on 3018-PROVer.

All you have to do is replace the spindle in the mount and solder the wires.

2. SainSmart Blue Laser Module Kit for Genmitsu CNC Machine 3018

This is a 2.5 W blue laser module that can be used for laser engraving using the 3018-PROVer.

It uses a 445nm blue laser and works with a 12 V supply that draws 2A of current.

You can use it for engraving on MDF, wood, plastic, leather, plywood, and anodized aluminum.

The setup is easy, as you can directly mount it onto the Z-axis gantry and it is also supported by the controller board on 3018-PROVer.

Assembly

3018-PROVer comes almost pre-assembled and that is a major upgrade from its previous versions.

Most users take around 30-45 minutes to put together this machine.

Considering it comes almost assembled, it would be inaccurate to call it a DIY CNC router kit.

You can find several helpful videos on YouTube to help you further.

SainSmart provides a well-detailed online instructions manual for Genmitsu 3018-PROVer.

Community and Support

Sainsmart provides email support for its customers and the quality of support is acceptable compared to most other 3018 CNC brands.

The official website has troubleshooting tips for almost all problems you may face while using the 3018-PRO.

Sainsmart also sells the Genmitsu 3018-PRO which is the cheaper, older version of the 3018-PROVer.

I chose the 3018-PROVer for this review, as its a much upgraded machine compared to the 3018-PRO.

Overall, the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer is an affordable CNC machine best suited for engraving and is probably the best in its category.

3. Maslow CNC-DIY Router Kit

Maslow CNC kit assembled
Maslow CNC kit assembled
Work area4' x 8' x 1.625"
Footprintdepending on setup
Linear MotionChain drive
AssemblyDepends on frame size

Quick summary of Makermade Maslow CNC kit

The Maslow CNC router kit is a truly unique machine.

It is fundamentally different from other CNC routers in the fact that it is a vertically mounted machine.

The Maslow is used predominantly by those who make wall panels and stage decorations.

Several brands make Maslow CNC router kits but the most popular and reliable one is the one made by Maker Made.

What you get with Maslow are the cables and the electronic components.

The easel-style frame that you see on the Maslow CNCs is built separately by each Maslow owner.

The plan and instructions to build the DIY parts of this CNC is available for free on the Maker Made website.

Size and build

There is no fixed dimension for the Maslow CNC kit.

The waste board you see in the pictures is not shipped with the kit.

You have to make your own frame and waste board using the instructions provided.

Hence the size and dimension for each of you will vary according to your requirements.

However, the maximum work area that you can achieve is 4’ x 8’.

Even with such a large work area, the footprint of the machine is low, as it has a vertical work bed.

You will need some 2’ x 4’ ply for the wasteboard and a couple of bricks for a counterweight to build the frame.

The materials for making the frames will cost you around $100, so factor that into the total cost of the machine. 

Linear Motion

For linear motion, it uses a chain drive system.

You can adjust the chain to scale up or scale down the work area as per your requirements.

At 1.625”, the Z-axis movement capabilities are limited and it also depends upon the router you use with the kit.

Maslow is quite slow at 31 ipm, but you need to consider the cost efficiency and the work area it provides.

Spindle/Router

The kit does not come with a spindle or router. This means you can use any router or spindle with this kit.

Controller

This CNC kit is controlled by an Arduino Mega 2560 + v1.2b Shield with the Holey v51.28 firmware installed on it.

You can connect the controller to your computer using a USB cable.

Software

Makermade provides the Makerverse G-code sending software to control the CNC router kit.

It is really easy to use and they provide 10 free sample programs to let you learn the workings of the kit.

Assembly

The main part of the assembly is making the frame and the DIY components.

It's not too difficult if you know basic woodworking and can be accomplished in a weekend.

Community and Support

Makermade has a huge fan following and hence has a large community that can help you with your queries.

They are based out of Springdale in Arkansas and they do provide email support to customers.

Maslow CNC kit comes with a one-year warranty

Overall, Maslow is a fun way to do CNC work if you like tinkering with your CNC kit.

It's a bit slow and its not for those want a hassle-free way to get going with their CNC.

But with a bit of patience, its possible to do some surprisingly good work with this CNC as the community garden of the Maslow CNC shows.

4. BobsCNC Evolution 3-Best Home CNC Machine

BobsCNC Evolution 3 with spoilboard
BobsCNC Evolution 3
Work area16" x 18" x 3.3"
Footprint26" x 31"
Linear MotionLead Scew and Belt Drive
Assembly5 hours

Quick summary of BobsCNC Evolution 3

The Evolution 3 is the cheapest option in the Evolution series of CNC routers from BobsCNC.

It has a fairly large cutting area and the frame is made of plywood which helps keep the cost of the machine affordable.

BobsCNC is an affordable choice if you need to work on wooden workpieces at your home shop.

Size and build

The footprint of Evolution 3 is 26" x 31"  with a weight of 32 lbs, and allows you to cut workpieces with a dimension of 16" x 18" x 3.3".

The frame of Evolution 3 is made of laser-cut baltic birch plywood with good rigidity.

A wooden frame has less rigidity than a metal chassis, but it helps keep the cost down.

People have used Evolution 3 for cutting aluminum at low depths of cut and speeds, but it is not the recommended CNC machine for cutting aluminum.

Overall, it is a capable and customizable CNC machine that can provide you good precision and performance at an affordable price.

The Evolution 3 is rigid enough for cutting soft materials like wood and plastics with a repeatability of 0.002” to 0.004”.

Linear Motion

The Z-axis uses an Acme rod with an Acetal nut that gives good rigidity to the axis.

For the X and Y axes, a belt drive with V wheels is used. Belt drives are fast but have slow response speeds due to stretching.

Evolution 3 uses a dual drive for the X-axis which helps in preventing racking, a common problem in machines with any wide gantry is racking.

Spindle

A 1.25 hp Makita RT0701C spindle is provided with Evolution 3 and it has a variable speed between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM.

The spindle has a ¼” collet and comes with a quick tool change feature.

However, if you want to choose a CNC spindle of your choice you can purchase Evolution 3 without the router.

Controller and electronics

Stepper Motor: Four NEMA 17 stepper motors with 76 oz-in of holding torque are used for moving the axes on the Evolution 3. 

Controller: The controller for Evolution 3 is an Arduino Uno board with GRBL 1.1 firmware flashed onto it.

You can control the router through a G-code sending software by connecting the controller to a computer via USB.

Limit switches: To prevent the gantry from crashing into the frame and for easy homing Evolution 3 has limit switches on each axis.

Software

Evolution 3 does not come with any software and you are free to choose any paid or free software for your cutting processes.

You can use any control software that supports GRBL firmware to run this CNC router.

However, BobsCNC does offer a few paid software that you can purchase at extra cost from their official website.

Assembly

Evolution 3 arrives as a DIY kit and you have to assemble it.

You will need basic tools for assembly and you can expect to set it up in about five hours.

The BobsCNC assembly manual is one of the best I've ever seen and is really helpful.

You can also find plenty of videos to help you with the assembly process.

Community and Support

BobsCNC is a popular brand among the hobbyist crowd and therefore has a large community of users.

They do not have a dedicated forum but they do have an active Facebook group.

The official support from BobsCNC is also excellent.

BobsCNC has a 30-day return policy which lets you claim a full refund if you return the product within 30 days of purchase.

Evolution 3 has a 90 day warranty period. Additionally, the Makita router comes with a one-year warranty.

What makes the Evolution 3 unique is that its priced at a point much below that of most desktop CNC routers which can mill wood.

Overall, the BobsCNC Evolution 3 is the most affordable CNC router for working on wood and plastics for a hobbyist (not considering CNC engravers).

I review the BobsCNC Evolution 3 in much more detail here- BobsCNC Evolution 3 in-depth review.

5. Ooznest Workbee

Ooznest workbee cnc machine
Ooznest Workbee
Work area11.81” x 10.63” x 3.7"
Footprint19.68” x 19.68”
Linear MotionAcme lead screws
Assembly5-6 hours

Quick summary of Ooznest Workbee

Ooznest is a popular British brand that makes good quality CNC machines.

The Workbee ships from the UK, and the shipping charge of nearly $200 is the only additional charge you need to pay apart from the price of the kit.

The basic bundle of the Workbee with router and ethernet connectivity costs around £1,344 ($1,864).

It is a good and reliable CNC router for small-scale businesses and it can cut soft materials like wood, plastics as well as soft metals like aluminum.

Size and build

The smallest and most affordable Workbee from Ooznest has a footprint of 19.68” x 19.68” and allows you to cut sheets with a maximum dimension of 11.81” x 10.63”.

The maximum clearance available between the Z-axis and the work bed is 3.7”, meaning the thickness and the tool length should not exceed 3.7”.

It has a rigid chassis that is made out of C-beam aluminum extrusions with good strength.

The overall build quality is quite satisfactory and it is the most rigid machine on this list.

Linear Motion

For linear motion, 8mm Acme lead screws are used which are rigid and have good accuracy.

The gantry is supported by polycarbonate wheels moving on V-slot extrusions. V-wheels do not require frequent lubrication, unlike other systems.

Four NEMA 23 stepper motors with holding torque of 175 oz-in are used for moving the axes.

The Y-axis uses a steppe motor on each side to prevent racking of the gantry. 

Spindle

Ooznest offers multiple spindle options with the Workbee that you can select while configuring your machine.

The most affordable choice that Ooznest offers is the Katsu Compact Router.

It is a 710 W router that has a variable speed between 13,000 and 30,000 RPM which is good enough for all the project requirements that this CNC router can handle.

Make sure to purchase a US adapter and mount for whatever router you choose.

However, if you wish you can choose a spindle of your choice for Workbee.

Controller and electronics

It uses the Duet 2 32-bit controller for controlling the machine.

You can connect your computer to the controller via USB or WiFi. You will have to choose the connectivity you require while configuring the machine.

The controller works on the RepRap firmware which is open source and can support up to 7 axes, which is a nice feature if you ever plan on adding additional axes.

It has homing switches on all axes that help you home the device easily.

Software

Ooznest provides Duet Web Control, web-based software to control the Workbee.

The software is intuitive and lets you control the machine even from a smartphone if you choose the WiFi connectivity configuration.

You can also purchase CAD and CAM software from Ooznest at additional cost.

However, if you want to keep the costs down you may use any free software for CNCs.

Upgrades

There are several upgrades that you can add to improve the performance of Workbee.

If you intend to use it for woodworking then it is highly recommended that you purchase the dust shoe from Ooznest which will help keep the dust in control and also aids in dust collection.

Another upgrade to consider is the enclosure for Workbee which will prevent the dust and debris from escaping and helps in keeping your workplace clean.

Assembly

It arrives as a kit with components that need to be assembled. You will need around 5-6 hours to set it up.

However, the crisp and clear instruction manual provided with the CNC router makes assembly an easy task.

If you get stuck, you can contact Ooznest or refer to YouTube videos to help you through.

Community and Support

Workbee is popular among hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts and has a large and active community.

The customer support is quick and reliable and is known for providing quick resolutions to your queries.

Ooznest also provides a one-year warranty for the Workbee CNC machine.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. 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 CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. 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