Comgrow ROBO CNC Router Review [2022]: Tested

Comgrow ROBO CNC Router Review [2022]: Tested

Comgrow ROBO CNC Router Review [2022]: Tested

Comgrow ROBO CNC is an affordable, feature-packed, beginner-friendly CNC router.

It is a compact 3018 CNC router machine that can fit on top of your desk that is ideal for engraving materials like wood, MDF, plastic, and acrylic.

ROBO can double up as a laser engraver if you get the laser attachment provided by Comgrow.

In this review, we take a deep dive into what this CNC router can do, including tests on multiple materials to help you understand its real-world performance.

Read this until the end to see how this CNC fared with different materials.

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

Comgrow ROBO CNC review

I reviewed ROBO CNC considering its size, material capability, frame, spindle, linear motion, software, electronics, upgrades, community, support, and many more.

Comgrow Robo Review Video


Comgrow ROBO review video including unboxing, assembly, and tests on wood as well as acrylic

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Size

Comgrow ROBO Size
Comgrow ROBO Size
CNC MachineFootprintWork area
Comgrow ROBO 3018 CNC18.1" x 13.8"11.8" x 7.1"

Size of Comgrow ROBO 3018 CNC router

ROBO CNC has a footprint of 18.1" x 13.8" and has an aluminum body. It weighs around 16.5 lbs.

The number "3018" in the product name of "Comgrow ROBO 3018 CNC" represents its working area of 30 cm x 18 cm (11.8" x 7.1"). It also has a Z-travel of 1.8".

Unlike other 3018 CNC like the Genmitsu 3018 PROVer, ROBO CNC has a longer Y-axis than the X-axis.

Its work area is supported by the Y-axis aluminum base that has T-slots to attach clamps and vises to hold the work material.

Material Capability

Comgrow ROBO after cutting pinewood
Comgrow ROBO after cutting pinewood

Comgrow ROBO CNC can work on most soft materials (non-metal) like plastic, acrylic, PCB, wood, and wood composites.

With a 1/8" end-mill attached to the spindle running at 10,000 RPM, you will be able to engrave 0.019" thick pinewood at a speed ranging from 0.7 to 2.36 ipm.

When engraved, you can feed in the same wood piece at a speed of 3.93 - 5.90 ipm.

A 0.039" - 0.078" thick acrylic can be engraved using a 1/8" V-bit at a speed ranging anywhere between 1.96 - 4.72 ipm.

However, I pushed it to cut way harder than this without affecting the machine.

More about it on the putting it to the test section.

Chassis/Frame

T-slot aluminum workbed
T-slot aluminum workbed

Comgrow has used a frame made of aluminum alloy for ROBO CNC that makes it quite rigid for a 3018 CNC.

The machine is small and has four rubber feet attached to the bottom. It helps reduce the noise and vibration while milling.

The Z-axis assembly and motor mount is made of ABS which makes it light but at the same time rigid.

Overall, it has good rigidity and is easy to install and maintain.

Linear Motion

Linear guides and lead screw on the underside of Comgrow ROBO CNC
Linear guides and lead screw on the underside of Comgrow ROBO CNC

ROBO CNC is lead-screw-driven on all three axes.

Along each X and Y axis, the machine uses two 0.47" (12mm) linear rods to support the machine movement.

You can also control the X and the Y-axis manually by rotating the adjusting knob. It will be helpful to make some small adjustments.

However, there is no manual adjustment for the Z-axis which would have been a nice addition as you need to depend on the controller or computer for moving the Z-axis all the time.

Spindle

Spindle with ER11 collet and wrenches
Spindle with ER11 collet and wrenches

ROBO CNC router comes with a standard 60W 775 spindle, which has a speed of 10,000 RPM. You can control the RPM using the GRBL Candle control software.

The spindle has a heat dissipation fan to help it run for long hours of operation. I was able to run it for around 2 hours without stopping and there was no heating issues.

The spindle is underpowered if you want to cut hardwood but it performs well for engraving on most materials I tried. It even performed a decent 0.05" deep cut on soft pine wood.

ROBO CNC has a very rigid build compared to other 3018 CNC machines. The machine can be made powerful enough to engrave on aluminum with the right spindle upgrade.

Noise Levels

I used a smartphone-based app for measuring the noise levels and it was around 75 dB, 2 to 3 feet away from the router while cutting pinewood at 5 ipm with a doc of 0.05" and the spindle running at 10,000 RPM.

At about three yards it's quieter than a dot matrix printer. You can use it in your home without any worries if you keep the door to the room closed.

Controller and Electronics

Stepper Motors

NEMA 17 stepper motor on Comgrow ROBO CNC
NEMA 17 stepper motor on Comgrow ROBO CNC

The lead screws along the axes are driven by stepper motors, each having a holding torque of 67.97 oz-in.

The stepper motors used are 40mm single shaft NEMA 17 stepper motors. ROBO CNC has three motors, one for each axis.

Controller and Electronics

Arduino control board onboard ROBO CNC (Source: Comgrow)

ROBO CNC uses a three-axis Arduino-based control board. The control board is placed in a black enclosure behind the X-axis gantry.

For homing operations, ROBO CNC uses a total of six limit switches, two for each axis.

It uses an offline controller which lets you engrave and cut without a PC. You can also connect ROBO CNC to a PC using a USB cable.

When not using the offline controller, it can be hung in the back of the electronic enclosure. It will stay there and not move around when the machine is milling.

You can load the G-code file to the offline controller using an SD card. Then the loaded file can be selected using the control switches.

Offline controller for Comgrow ROBO CNC
Offline controller for Comgrow ROBO CNC

However, it is much more easier to control the machine using a computer rather than the offline controller.

Comgrow ROBO CNC has an E-stop switch at the front which you can use to stop the spindle and the movement of the axes if anything goes wrong.

Software

Candle GRBL software interface (Source: Comgrow)

You can use any software of your choice like Fusion 360, Easel, Etc for CAD operations. They can also generate toolpaths.

For laser engraving applications, Comgrow recommends LaserGRBL and LightBurn. Both can import image files in PNG, JPG, JPEG, DWG, BMP, and PDF file formats.

LaserGRBL is available only for Windows OS, but LightBurn is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux OS.

For controlling the CNC, they provide a card reader and a memory stick that has test files, Laser grbl, and GRBL Candle loaded on to it.

GRBL Candle is easy to learn and use, if you are a beginner GRBL Candle is a good way to start.

It is a better idea to copy these files onto your computer than use it directly from the memory stick.

It can also work with Easel software, which is an all-in-one software package for CNC and can do CAD, CAM, and control operations from a single interface.

Accessories

With the Comgrow ROBO CNC machine, you will get wrenches, clamps, power adapter, milling tool kit, tool holders, cables, screws, and a Z-probe.

The accessory kit contains 8 end mills, half of which are four flute 1/8" cutters and the other half are engraving bits with a 20° taper and 0.1 mm tip.

Since the Z-axis is not having a manual control knob, the Z-probe will help you easily zero the Z-axis.

Whats in the box with Comgrow ROBO CNC
What's in the box with Comgrow ROBO CNC

Upgrades

Comgrow laser head (Source: Comgrow)

Comgrow provides some laser and rotary roller upgrade options for the ROBO CNC router.

The laser upgrade is directly attached to the Z-axis spindle mount using a metal sheet buckle. 5W and 10W laser head upgrade options are available.

You can get your ROBO CNC customized with necessary laser upgrades while purchasing it from Comgrow's official website or their Amazon store.

Even if you choose not to get any upgrades when you buy the machine, you can still purchase them later.

Comgrow rotor upgrade (Source: Comgrow)

Assembly

ROBO CNC comes in six modular parts. In addition, the X-axis and the Z-axis come pre-assembled.

There are three acrylic protective baffles that you need to attach to the edges of the workbed using two M5 bolts.

The next step is to place the X-axis gantry to the linear guide mounts with three screws.

You then need to fix the spindle onto the ABS spindle mount, after which you can connect all the cables.

All the cables are neatly marked and it is really easy to figure out which one goes where.

The connectors are designed in such a way that there is only one way to connect them so you don't have to worry about connecting them wrong.

The assembly manual is not very well detailed but it has enough details to help you complete the assembly without trouble.

In case you get stuck during the assembly you can refer to several assembly videos on YouTube for help.

The connector for the Z-axis probe can be elusive sometimes and it took me a couple of minutes to find it the first time.

It is a short cable poking its head out of the controller and was hiding behind the X-axis gantry

When everything is connected, you can turn on the machine and try jogging it using the "Move" option in the offline controller or GRBL Candle.

All in all the assembly will take you less than 20 minutes and you can start cutting within 30 mins of opening the box.

Community

Comgrow has an active community on Facebook. They also run some fun giveaway challenges regularly for their customers on their Facebook page.

Their products are fairly affordable and are used by several people. You can also find many users discussing their concerns through the seller page on Amazon.

Comgrow has also compiled a ROBO CNC FAQ section on their website with frequently asked questions from their customers.

Customer Support

Comgrow offers a one-year warranty for ROBO CNC routers. They also provide free shipping with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you change your mind after ordering this machine, you will still be able to get a full refund for 30-days from the date of purchase.

Comgrow has a CNC guide section on its website. It details the assembly, software installation, machine operation, upgrade instructions, troubleshooting, and more.

You can contact Comgrow through email and the contact form on their website. Usually, they reply within 24 hours.

Testing Comgrow ROBO CNC Router

We tested this CNC router on Acrylic and Pine.

Comgrow ROBO CNC on Cast Acrylic

ParameterValue
Workpiece size3" x 6"
Bit20° 0.1 mm tip engraving bit
Depth of cut0.02"
Feed rate5 ipm
Spindle speed10,000 rpm
Time for completion25 minutes

Cut setting for engraving on cast acrylic with Comgrow ROBO CNC

I started off with a 3" x 6" piece of acrylic. Made the design using Adobe Illustrator and exported it as SVG.

Then I used Easel and imported the SVG file I made on Illustrator. You can also design directly on Easel, depending on which one you are comfortable with.

I used the engraving bit that came with the CNC and it did a decent job.

Comgrow ROBO CNC engraving on cast acrylic
Comgrow ROBO CNC engraving on cast acrylic

The speed was set to 10,000 RPM, the depth of cut was 0.02", and the feed rate was 5 ipm. It took nearly 25 minutes to complete the job.

It was comfortable cutting at this speed and feed, there was no unwanted vibrations or whining of any sort.

Acrylic sign made using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Acrylic sign made using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Acrylic sign made using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Acrylic sign made using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Acrylic engraved using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Acrylic engraved using Comgrow ROBO CNC

Comgrow ROBO CNC on Pine Wood

ParameterValue
Workpiece size4" x 8"
Bitfour flute 1/8 cutter
Depth of cut per pass0.05"
Total depth of cut0.1"
Stepover40%
Feed rate6.25 ipm
Spindle speed10,000 rpm
Time for completion1 hour 45 minutes

Cut setting for routing pinewood with Comgrow ROBO CNC

I used a pine board (SYP) at a cut depth of 0.05" and used the four flute 1/8 cutter that came with the kit.

The spindle speed was 10,000 RPM and I used 40% stepover.

Wood engraved using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Wood engraved using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Wood Sign made using Comgrow ROBO CNC
Wood Sign made using Comgrow ROBO CNC

It was able to ramp it up to 6.25 ipm at 0.05 doc on pine wood, there was no struggle and it was evident that it could be pushed for a deeper depth of cut.

The entire process of cutting out the design took about 1 hour and 45 mins but I think the time could've been cut down a bit more to complete it 15 minutes faster.

Final Thoughts

Comgrow ROBO CNC is a robust, affordable CNC machine.

It is a great starting machine for beginners and a useful tool for hobbyists.

The overall performance was great when we tested it on different materials.

Since ROBO CNC is a router cum laser engraver, it offers much more flexibility in terms of the projects for which it can be used.

Considering how rigid the machine is, you can even try a spindle upgrade to cut harder materials.

Comgrow currently does not officially offer any spindle upgrade, but some decent 500W 20,000 RPM spindle kits are available on Amazon.

Overall, the ROBO CNC machine is a great option if you are looking for a 3018 CNC machine.

It comes with features like Z-probe, limit switches, offline control, protective baffle, etc that otherwise have to be bought separately in most other popular 3018 CNC machines.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does 3018 mean in CNC machines?

The number "3018" mentioned with the name of CNC machines represents that it has a working area of 30 cm x 18 cm (300mm x 180mm or 11.8" x 7.1").

From where should I buy ROBO CNC machine?

You can buy ROBO CNC machines from Amazon or Comgrow's official website. Both are genuine, in Amazon also Comgrow has an official store.

Can ROBO CNC machine cut wood?

ROBO CNC cannot cut wood as it is made to engrave, but you can deep engrave and cut thin wood pieces. With ROBO CNC you can deep engrave a 0.005" thick pinewood panel to make an undercut at a speed ranging anywhere between 0.78 ipm and 2.36 ipm.

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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