If you're a small business looking for a CNC router you need one that balances performance and price perfectly.
You don't need industrial production capabilities but need one that lets you make products every day without the CNC quitting on you.
In this guide, I've selected the best small business CNC routers available in 2023.
You can use this to make products like sculptures, decors, ornaments, kitchen utensils, docks, organizers, and puzzles that you can sell on marketplaces like Etsy.
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Best CNC Router For Small Businesses
1. Comgrow ROBO
Comgrow ROBO is a 3018 CNC router, meaning it has a work area of 30 cm x 18 cm (11.8" x 7.1").
3018 CNCs generally have a wider X-axis and a short Y-axis, but ROBO has an opposite setup. Its Y-axis is long, and the X-axis is short.
It has a T-slotted aluminum workbed. This allows you to tightly and effortlessly clamp the workpiece.
When cutting wood workpieces, you need to cover the aluminum workbed using a wasteboard to leave enough headroom between the cutting bit and the workbed.
This helps prevent damage, but you'll have to compensate for the workpiece thickness. The maximum Z-travel of Comgrow ROBO is 1.8".
ROBO is powered by an air-cooled 775 spindle having a speed of 10,000 RPM. It's powerful enough to work on soft materials like wood, composites, acrylic, plastic, PCB, etc.
The cutting speed is relatively slow. With a four-flute 1/8" cutter and a spindle speed of 10,000 RPM, I could engrave pine wood at a depth of 0.05" with a feed rate of 6.25 ipm.
You can use Comgrow ROBO to make various creative projects like photo frames, signs, puzzles, pedants, keychains, etc.
To further increase your sales, you can customize your projects with local themes that sell in your locality.
As the sales increase, so will your profit. If you play it smartly, the machine can easily cover its cost.
You can even upgrade ROBO with a laser module and a rotary axis to enhance its functionality and make creative projects.
Comgrow ROBO CNC router works with GRBL Candle and Easel software. You can also run it offline using the offline controller.
The machine is provided with a 1-year manufacturer's warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
You can contact Comgrow for support queries through email or their online contact form.
I've thoroughly tested and reviewed Comgrow ROBO in the following video.
2. SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer
Genmitsu 3018 PROVer from SainSmart is a CNC router best suited for small engraving jobs.
Its configurations are similar to the ROBO CNC. Genmitsu uses a 10,000 RPM 775 spindle and provides an offline controller. It also has upgrade options like laser and rotary.
SainSmart offers Genmitsu 3018 PROVer in bundles also, you can get it with a Y-axis extension kit, enclosure, cutting bits, aluminum spindle holder, or a 20,000 RPM spindle.
With the default 10,000 RPM spindle, Genmitsu can work on plywood, composites, wood, acrylic, PCB, etc.
Genmitsu can also engrave on soft metals like aluminum, but the process is quite slow and will require a spindle upgrade to get fast engravings.
Unlike other CNCs routers, Genmitsu has a movable workbed. A lead screw drive moves it along the Y-axis.
All the axes on Genmitsu are powered by lead screw drives, which allow the machine to achieve a maximum transmission speed of 100 ipm.
The controller onboard Genmitsu 3018 PROVer is flashed with GRBL 1.1 firmware, which is easy to use and is popular among hobbyists and small businesses.
With the machine, SainSmart provides a 3-month subscription to Carveco, which is a paid software and will cost $15/month after the trial ends.
You can also operate the machine using any control software that supports GRBL boards. Some of the popular GRBL software include Universal Gcode Sender, CNCjs, Candle, OpenCNCPilot, etc.
Unfortunately, SainSmart doesn't offer any formal warranty. So you'll have to solve issues by making use of community resources.
They have an active community on Facebook. You can also directly reach out to SainSmart via email.
It has laser, rotary, spindle, and extension upgrades available.
Doesn't have a valid warranty.
3. Shapeoko 4
Shapeoko 4 is a desktop CNC router from Carbide 3D. They offer Shapeoko machines in three sizes - Standard, XL, and XXL.
|Shapeoko 4 Standard||33" x 24" x 19"||17.5" x 17.5" x 4"|
|Shapeoko 4 XL||50" x 24" x 19"||33" x 17.5" x 4"|
|Shapeoko 4 XXL||50" x 41" x 19"||33" x 33" x 4"|
Unfortunately, the size of the largest model (XXL) is less than the 4' x 8' CNC, which is the standard for working on full-size sheet workpieces.
The frame/chassis of Shapeoko 4 is made of extruded aluminum.
It provides the machine with a rigid structure powerful enough to resist force while cutting soft metals like aluminum, bronze, etc.
Hence, it is considered one of the best CNC for aluminum milling jobs.
Shapeoko 4 can also work on regular CNC router machined materials like wood (hard/soft), plastic, composites like foam, etc.
Carbide 3D has also launched a successor to Shapeoko 4, the Shapeoko Pro. It comes with a more stable transmission due to the addition of linear rails.
So if your small business requires you to mill aluminum workpieces, the Pro version will be a good option.
You can get the Shapeoko 4 CNC with or without the router, and the options for a router include the Carbide Compact Router and the Makita Router.
If you choose to attach it with your own router, you'll need to use their 65 mm spindle mount.
Carbide 3D offers upgrades like dust shoe, ball screw drove Z-axis, laser module, BitRunner, BitSetter, etc. to enhance its functionality.
Shapeoko works with Carbide Create software. It is free CNC software that anyone can download and use.
The machine comes in modules and can be assembled in under 4 hours. For reference, you can check out their assembly guide video.
Carbide offers a 1-year warranty for the Shapeoko 4 CNC router. For support, you can contact them by phone or email.
4. BobsCNC Quantum
Quantum from BobsCNC is a wood carving CNC machine. It is built using rigid, laser-cut baltic birch plywood with good holding strength.
It uses a Makita router to rotate the spindle, with a rated power of 1.25 hp. It can be operated at 6 speeds between 10,000 RPM and 30,000 RPM.
The double insulation on the router protects it from dust and allows it to work on woodworking jobs effectively.
By default, the machine has a work area of 24" x 24" and can safely house up to 3.8" thick workpieces.
BobsCNC also offers an X-axis extension kit that can increase the work area along the X-axis by 26.5". This provides a total work area of 24" x 50.5".
If you want to carve cylindrical wood stocks, you can get their "REVOLUTION ROTARY AXIS CNC ROUTER KIT." It comes as a separate machine with its own software.
The Quantum has an Arduino Uno-based controller flashed with GRBL 1.1 firmware. It can be controlled using any GRBL software of your choice.
You'll have to spend a lot of time assembling since the machine is sent in parts. Assembly guides are available on YouTube and in the user manual.
Since Quantum has a unique build based on wood, it is only provided with a 90-day warranty, but the Makita router on the machine comes with a 1-year warranty.
If anything goes wrong, you can get replacement parts directly from BobsCNC. You can contact them through email or their online contact form.
It is powered by a high-speed Makita router.
It only has a 90-day warranty.
5. X-Carve Pro
X-Carve Pro is the latest CNC router from Inventables and is a popular machine among small businesses and hobbyists.
Inventables offers the machine in two sizes, 4' x 2' and 4' x 4'. They have a similar configuration except for the size.
|4' x 2' version||4' x 4' version|
|Work area||48’’ x 24’’ x 4’’||48’’ x 48’’ x 4’’|
|Footprint||65.75’’ x 31.6’’||65.75’’ x 55.75’|
The X-Carve Pro costs around $9,000, which can be quite costly for some hobbyists planning to build a CNC business.
You can consider the X-Carve CNC router if you want a cost-effective alternative. It costs a quarter of the Pro model.
X-Carve is the initial CNC router Inventables released, but it comes with a low-powered spindle.
|Cutting Area||30" x 30"||48" x 48"|
|Spindle||Dewalt 611 Router||2hp air-cooled spindle|
|Linear Motion||Belt Drive + V Wheels||Ball Screw + Linear Rails|
The 2 hp spindle on the X-Carve pro has a speed range of 8000-24,000 RPM.
Inventables built the spindle specifically for the X-Carve Pro CNC router. It is air-cooled, which helps it run longer.
X-Carve Pro has ball screw-driven transmission systems on all three axes (X, Y, Z). It is supported by 25 mm aluminum rods, providing a rigid setup.
This allows X-Carve Pro to work on wood, plastic, acrylic, non-ferrous metals, etc.
When cutting metal workpieces, you need to use CNC cutting fluids. It extends the tool's lifetime and prevents the workpiece from having rough-cut surfaces.
In the case of electronics, X-Carve Pro uses a GRBL CNC controller. The controller, stepper drivers, fan, power supply, etc., are housed inside an electronics cabinet.
The machine uses a total of four stepper motors. Two motors drive the X-axis, and the other two are used individually on the Y and Z axes.
Inventables provides the Easel Pro software with the machine. It is an all-in-one software that provides the ability to perform CAD, CAM, and control operations.
They have an active online community with a large user base on the Inventables forum.
X-Carve Pro is provided with a standard 1-year warranty. For support, you can contact Inventables by phone or email.
Apart from these, you can also use a handheld CNC router to carve wooden workpieces with good accuracy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make money with a CNC router?
Yes, you can make money with a CNC router by making and selling different creative projects for profit. Some of the projects that sell faster are signs, games, coasters, trays, ornaments, artworks, etc. You can sell them offline through your local market or online through platforms like Etsy.
How much does a CNC router cost?
Depending on its setup, a CNC router can cost anywhere between $300 - $10,000. In general, 3018 CNC routers are the most affordable option out there. 6040 CNCs cost a little more because of their larger work area and rigid build. Sign-making and small shop CNC routers generally come within a price range of $800 - $5,000. Industrial-grade CNC routers come with a much higher price tag.
How do you price a CNC router project?
Pricing of CNC router projects can be estimated by adding up the cost of the machine, tooling, overheads, materials used, energy consumption, labor, and other miscellaneous costs.
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