BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Review [2021]- Yes or No?

BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Review [2021]- Yes or No?

BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Review [2021]- Yes or No?

In this review, I provide a detailed overview of the Evolution 3 CNC machine from BobsCNC.

The BobsCNC Evolution series has two versions, Evolution 3 and Evolution 4. Both the machines are suitable for hobbyists and small businesses.

Considering what it offers for its price it is among some of the best desktop CNC machines and is highly popular in the hobbyist community.

Evolution 3 and Evolution 4 are often confused with E3 and E4 models.

E3 and E4 are different machines manufactured by BobsCNC but have now been discontinued and replaced by the Evolution series.

BobsCNC Evolution 3 is available to Buy on Amazon.

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

BobsCNC Evolution 3 review 

I evaluated the Evolution 3 CNC on several parameters like size, material capability, chassis, linear motion, spindle, controller, software, community and customer support, and other similar factors. 

Size 

Bobs CNC Evolutio3 size
BobsCNC Evolutio3 size

Evolution 3 has a 26" x 31" footprint, which fits on most desks and allows you to machine workpieces of 16" x 18".

The Z-axis travel is 3.3 inches, and depending on the tool length, you can machine workpieces that are less than 3.3 inches thick.

Evolution 3 weighs 32 lbs which makes it easy to move around.

If you find the size of the Evolution 3 limiting, BobsCNC also offers a larger CNC router in the Evolution series.

Evolution 4 provides a 24" x 24" cutting area, which is larger than the 16" x 18" cutting area of Evolution 3.

If you need the larger size, consider BobsCNC Evolution 4 instead of Evolution 3 as the price difference is not much.

Material Capability 

Evolution 3 is a good machine if you want to do CNC work on wood. It can cut and engrave on wood with good precision.

You can carve acrylic at a depth of 0.05" at a feed rate of 5 inches per minute, which in my opinion, is slow. 

You can work on other soft materials like wood and plastics. However, the Evolution 3 is not designed for machining aluminum, but it is highly inefficient for aluminum. 

Woodworking on a CNC machine produces a lot of dust, and you must use a dust collection system with any woodworking machine.

Even though it has a 1.25 hp Makita RT0701C router that can cut through aluminum, the feed rate and depth of cut achievable are not ideal. 

The frame starts flexing when machining metal and it's a tad too ambitious to expect to mill metal on the Evolution 3.

Acrylic work done on BobsCNC Evolution 3
Acrylic work done on BobsCNC Evolution 3

Chassis 

The chassis of Evolution 3 is made of rigid laser-cut baltic birch plywood.

Baltic birch is strong and durable and is one of the best materials for CNC routing.

The wooden frame helps reduce the cost and weight of the machine, making it an affordable choice for hobbyists and small shops.

A wooden frame is less rigid than a metal chassis, but the construction of Evolution 3 gives you enough rigidity to achieve a repeatability of 0.002" to 0.004". 

Linear Motion

The X and Y axes use a belt drive and V wheels for linear motion, which is fast, but the responsiveness is affected due to the stretching effect of belts.

A common problem in machines with any wide gantry is racking. To prevent racking, Evolution 3 uses a dual drive on the x-axis.

The Z-axis is driven by an Acme rod and Acetal nut, which gives rigidity to the Z-axis while cutting. 

Spindle/Router 

Makita RT0701C
Makita RT0701C

Evolution 3 router kit comes with a 1.25 hp Makita RT0701C spindle. 

You can vary the spindle speed between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM by adjusting the dial on the router. 

The router can accommodate router bits with a ¼" shank and has a shaft lock, eliminating the need for two wrenches to change the tool.

The spindle weighs around 3.9 lbs due to its lightweight aluminum construction.

You do not have to worry about dust from woodworking damaging the spindle as it has double insulation to prevent dust entry.

Note that you can purchase Evolution 3 without the router and choose a CNC spindle of your choice.

Replacement Parts 

Finding and replacing the parts on the Evolution 3 is quite easy. All the replacement parts can be purchased from the official website ofBobsCNC.

The shipping speeds are also quick and reliable. Moreover, you can find plenty of help on troubleshooting and replacing the parts online.

Accessories 

BobsCNC provides a Z probe kit, which helps you zero the z-axis, which is a recommended accessory to reduce your setup time for each project.

As woodworking produces dust, you must purchase a dust boot and dust collection system.

It is a necessary addition if you are using it in your garages or basements. The dust can damage the other equipment in the room.

Controller and Electronics 

Evolution 3 controller and power supply mounting
Evolution 3 controller and power supply mounting arrangement

Stepper Motor 

Evolution 3 uses four NEMA 17 stepper motors with 76 oz-in of holding torque for moving the axes. 

Controller

An Arduino Uno with GRBL 1.1 firmware flashed on to it is used as the controller for Evolution 3.

You need to connect the controller to a computer via USB and use any G-code sending software to control the machine.

The controller and power supply are mounted to the machine using zip ties. This eliminates the need for additional desk space, a feature that is now common for most desktop CNCs.

The Evolution 3 comes with limit switches on each axis to help in homing and preventing the gantry from crashing into the chassis.

Software 

In terms of software, BobsCNC does not offer any software bundled with Evolution 3.

However, you are free to choose any software for designing and controlling your machine.

The following are the software programs recommended by BobsCNC for use with their machine. However, Evolution 3 will work with any CAD/CAM software on the market.

SoftwarePriceCapabilities
EstlCAM~$59CAM
VCarve Desktop~$3492.5 D CAD/CAM
VCarve Pro~$6992.5 D CAD/CAM
Aspire~$1,9953D CAD/CAM
Alibre Workshop~$3993D CAD/CAM

Optional software programs offered by Boss CNC with Evolution 3 CNC router kit

If you want to keep the costs down, you can also choose any free software program for use with BobsCNC. 

Assembly 

You receive the machine as parts in a flat box, shipped to you at no extra cost. You will have to assemble the parts before you can start cutting.

The instruction manuals provided are well-detailed, with good illustrations for each step involved in the assembly process. 

In the rare case of you getting stuck, there are plenty of videos to guide you through the setup process.

Assembling Evolution 3 requires basic tools that every hobbyist usually has.

To save time, Evolution 3 uses self-squaring gantries that help you square the gantry quickly.

The entire assembly process can take up to five hours of your time.

Make sure the assembly is done correctly, as the accuracy of the machine is dependent on this.

Community 

BobsCNC has a large active online user community which is a testament to the popularity of the machine.

However, BobsCNC does not have a dedicated online forum for their machines.

They do have an active Facebook group, however.

Customer Support 

The official support is quite good. The customer support is great at providing reliable solutions. 

BobsCNC provides a 30-day return policy wherein you can return the product within 30 days for a full refund.

The warranty on the Evolution series of products is 90 days. The Makita router that comes with the Evolution 3 has a one-year warranty.

Final Thoughts 

Evolution 3 is a machine best suited for hobbyists who want to do CNC routing on wood and similar soft materials at an affordable price.

The wooden construction does limit you a bit in terms of material capability (like aluminum milling).

However, the price point of the Evolution 3 makes those limitations trivial and I think it is one of the best machines out there.

At this price point, its only competitors are Chinese CNC machines which do not offer much in terms of customer support.

On the other hand, BobsCNC is a fully American-owned family business that has a big pool of happy customers to its credit.

BobsCNC Evolution 3 CNC Router
  • A rigid laser cut 5-Ply Baltic Birch frame with SG20U supported rail system.
  • GT2 belt drive on X and Y-axis and Tr8 Acme Rod mounted with an ACME Nut on the Z-axis.

In case you found BobsCNC unimpressive, and want an affordable CNC machine near the same price check this guide- Best Cheap CNC Machines [2021].

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Can you make signs longer than 18" in multiple steps in Evolution 3? 

You can make signs longer than 18" on Evolution 3. You have to put a reference mark on the workpiece using V-bits at regular intervals and use it as a reference while shifting. 

The maximum length Evolution 3 can cut is 16 inches. But, since the ends are open, you can use long workpieces with additional support and cut them in steps by shifting the workpiece after each cut.

How are workpieces clamped on the Evolution 3 Router?

The spoil board of the Evolution 3 has ¼" -20 inserts. In addition, BobsCNC provides ¼" -20 screws, wing nuts, and eight clamps which can be used for holding down the workpiece.

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

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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

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