The Genmitsu 3018 PRO from Sainsmart is one of the most popular and affordable 3018 CNC routers out there.
It is a CNC machine capable of engraving on materials such as wood, plastics, and PCB.
For beginners, it is an excellent kit to learn the basics of CNC machines at a highly affordable price.
It is also an excellent tool for small-scale PCB makers and jewelry makers.
I evaluated the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PRO CNC machine on parameters like size, material capability, chassis, linear motion, spindle, controller, software, community, and customer support, among others for this review.
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Quick Summary of Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018-PRO
|Work area||11.8” x 7.1” x 1.4"|
|Footprint||15.7” x 13” x 9.4"|
|Chassis/Frame||Aluminum, PF, Nylon|
|Spindle speed||10,000 RPM|
|Controller firmware||GRBL 1.1|
|Control Software||GRBL Candle|
|Assembly time||2-3 hours|
Quick summary SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PRO
Size of the 3018-PRO
The footprint of the 3018-PRO is 15.7” x 13” which means it can be placed on top of most work desks.
Make sure you have at least 9.4” of clearance over the desk to keep the 3018-PRO.
The small frame size makes it convenient to store it on shelves when not in use.
You can engrave on workpieces with a maximum size of 11.8” x 7.1” on this CNC router.
The maximum thickness of the workpiece you can use is 1.4”, however as the tool length increases the maximum workpiece thickness decreases.
Material Capability of the 3018-PRO
This CNC router is capable of engraving on soft materials like wood, acrylic, bakelite, plywoods, MDF, PVC, polycarbonate, and PCB-making boards.
If you want to engrave on aluminum workpieces you will have to upgrade the spindle with the drop in 20,000 RPM spindle upgrade that SainSmart offers.
However, even with the upgrade, the router cannot be used for engraving on ferrous metals like steel, which is expected.
For work holding, SainSmart provides four plate clamps that bolt down on the T-tracks in the aluminum work bed.
Chassis/Frame of the 3018-PRO
The chassis of 3018-PRO is made of part aluminum and part-PF (plastic) giving it good rigidity to withstand vibrations and flexing when engraving.
The Z-axis components are constructed out of Nylon which gives it good durability and reduces the weight of the Z-axis, which ultimately reduces the load on the gantry.
Linear Motion in the 3018-PRO
A Lead screw drive mechanism is used on each axis of this CNC router and it is driven by a stepper motor.
For movement along the Y-axis, the lead screws move the work bed rather than moving the gantry.
The work bed slides on top of two cylindrical linear guides under the work bed.
If you are concerned whether the lead screws result in backlash, know that the backlash is an insignificant issue for engraving purposes.
Spindle used in the 3018-PRO
The spindle used on the 3018-PRO is the basic CNC spindle from Genmitsu, which can be found on almost all of the SainSmart CNCs.
The maximum spindle speed is 10,000 RPM at 36V which is controlled by the controller.
The speed is sufficient enough to engrave on soft materials like wood and plastics.
You can use bits with a shank diameter between 0.02” and 0.276” with the ER11 collet that comes with the kit.
The ER11 collet can be mounted onto the extension rod that is preattached to the spindle shaft.
Aluminum Engraving using Genmitsu 3018-PRO
For engraving on aluminum, you will need to upgrade the stock spindle to the GS-775M.
The Genmitsu GS-755M is a drop-in spindle upgrade/replacement for the 3018-PRO and 3018-PROVer.
It has a maximum speed of 24,000 RPM and works with a 24V supply.
The outer body diameter is 42mm which is the same as that of the default spindle and you do not need to modify the mount to make this upgrade.
Make sure you purchase the one with an extension rod pre-attached as removing it from your old one to put on the upgraded spindle can be a difficult task.
Controller and Electronics on the 3018-PRO
A 12V stepper motor is used on each axis to drive the lead screws.
They draw a maximum current of 1.3 A and have a maximum torque of 2.2 lb-in.
When positioning the CNC router, the stepper motors lets you achieve rapid speeds of nearly 100 inches per minute.
3018-PRO uses the V2 CNC control board made by SainSmart and was a popular choice for DIY CNC builds until SainSmart released the upgraded control board used on the 3018-PROVer.
The controller uses 4988ET stepper drivers that are known to be reliable.
The driver can handle up to 4A of current which allows you to upgrade your stepper motors without having to upgrade the drivers.
The controller runs on GRBL 1.1 firmware, a robust and easy to configure firmware for CNC machines, and is widely used.
You can use the controller to operate a 3-pin or 2-pin laser module or a spindle and 3 stepper motors.
You can connect the controller to your computer using the USB cable that comes with the kit.
There is also an offline controller provided with the kit. You can use it to control the CNC router without a computer.
You can copy the G-code onto a memory stick and insert it into the offline controller to run G-code straight from the controller.
The offline controller comes with a 1.8” touch screen and buttons that let you jog and run the CNC router.
Software on the 3018-PRO
CAD/CAM software for the 3018-PRO
You get a three-month free subscription to CARVECO CAM and design software worth $45 with the 3018-PRO.
CARVECO software is not that great in my opinion, especially when you need to pay for it after the three-month period.
A free CNC software can save you money when you just want to learn the basics as a beginner.
Control Software of the 3018-PRO
As it is a GRBL firmware-based machine you can use any control software that supports GRBL based devices for controlling the 3018-PRO.
Sainsmart recommends GRBL Candle for use with this CNC and they provide it with the kit.
You can UGS as well for controlling this CNC machine.
Any Windows, Linux, or macOS computer can be used to control this CNC machine.
Laser Module for the Genmitsu 3018-PRO
The laser module kit will allow you to perform laser engraving on a wide range of materials like wood, plastics, and soft metals.
It has a power of 2.5W and uses a 445nm blue laser which works with a 12 V 2A supply.
The laser module seamlessly integrates with your existing package as it can be controlled using the default controller.
You can use it to engrave on wood, plastics, and anodized aluminum.
You can directly mount it on the Z-axis gantry which makes setting it up an easy task.
Other Upgrades for the 3018-PRO
SainSmart offers several upgrades for the Genmitsu 3018-PRO using which you can improve the performance or capabilities of the machine.
1. Z-axis Probe
This is an accessory that you need to purchase additionally if you do not want to manually zero the Z-axis every time you change the tool.
It connects to your spindle shaft and the controller and enables the controller to automatically detect the zero height on the Z-axis.
The extension kit increases the Y-axis length to 14.6” and converts your 3018 CNC machine to a 3040 CNC machine.
It is a useful upgrade if you have outgrown your work area. The upgrade is quick and easy.
Making this upgrade will also change the footprint of your 3018-PRO to 16.5” x 18.3” from 16.5” x 13.5”.
Assembly of the 3018-PRO
This CNC router arrives as a DIY kit and it will take you around 2-3 hours to put everything together.
The assembly is made easy with the help of an excellent online assembly guide and the ample amount of videos available on YouTube.
I have to say no other 3018 CNC makers provide such detailed and assembly instructions as SainSmart does.
Once you are done with the assembly, you need to install the control software (GRBL Candle) in your computer.
From there you can test the machine and start engraving.
Community Support for Sainsmart CNC Machines
SainSmart CNC machines have a large community of users.
There is an active Facebook group where you can discuss your issues and share ideas.
Customer Support by Sainsmart
Generally, the support for most 3018 CNCs is poor, to put it mildly.
However, SainSmart differs from other manufacturers in terms of support for 3018 CNCs.
They provide excellent email support for their customers which is reliable and quick.
You can find troubleshooting tips for almost all of your issues on the official website which allows you to solve problems without contacting support.
Final Thoughts on the Genmitsu 3018-PRO
The SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PRO is a great choice for doing engraving work on small workpieces.
It stands out when compared to machines in a similar price range in terms of features, reliability, and official support it provides.
Among all the 3018 CNC machines available in the market today, the SainSmart 3018-PRO is second only to the SainSmart 3018-PROVer.
However, the PROVer is more expensive compare to the 3018-PRO.
Overall it doesn't get more affordable than the 3018-PRO if you want to get started with a hobby CNC engraver machine.
Genmitsu 3018-PRO vs Genmitsu 3018-PROVer
Apart from all the features in the Genmitsu PRO, the PROVer has an all-metal frame, limit switches, Z-probe, an upgraded controller, Mach 3 serial port support, and an emergency stop switch.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use Genmitsu 3018-PRO to drill holes on aluminum workpieces?
No this is not the ideal machine for drilling through metal or hard material stocks. You must keep in mind that this is a hobby CNC kit for beginners best suited for engraving.