SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer is one of the most popular CNC machines for engraving on non-metals.
The PROVer is often the first machine for many people just getting into the world of hobby CNC.
There are two versions of the PROVer, the 3018-PROVer, and the 3018-PROVer MX3.
The 3018-PROVer works on GRBL firmware, while the 3018-PROVer MX3 runs on Mach3 control software.
3018-PROVer MX3 has a similar price and has a Serial port for connectivity but lacks the offline controller that PROVer offers.
Moreover, it requires you to purchase Mach3 control software to control the machine.
In this Genmitsu 3018-PROVer review, I'll be focusing on the GRBL version of the router.
I evaluated the SainSmart Genmitsu 3018 PROVer CNC machine on parameters like size, material capability, chassis, linear motion, spindle, controller, software, community, customer support, and other similar factors for this review.
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Before going into detail, here's a quick summary of the Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 CNC-PROVer.
|SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer
|11.8” x 7.1” x 1.4”
|16.5” x 13.5” x 9.4"
|Max. Spindle speed
|Offline controller, Limit switches, Z-probe, Emergency stop switch
|15 - 30 minutes
Quick summary SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer
Size of the PROVer
SainSmart 3018 PROVer is a desktop CNC machine and requires a minimal area of 16.5” x 13.4” on your desk.
It has a height of 11”, which means you can stow it away on your shelf when not in use.
The maximum dimension of workpieces that can be accommodated on this CNC engraver is 11.8” x 7.1” x 1.4”.
Material Capability of the PROVer
The PROVer can engrave on a wide range of soft materials, including wood, acrylic, bakelite, plywood, MDF, polycarbonate, and PCB-making boards.
However, engraving on aluminum is very slow with the stock version of the PROVer.
If you want to engrave on aluminum, you can purchase the drop-in spindle upgrade.
To help with this, the PROVer has an aluminum bed with T-track that you can use to bolt down your workpieces using the clamps that come with the kit.
Chassis/Frame of the PROVer
The entire frame of this 3018 CNC is metal, and the only non-metal component is the acrylic baffles on the sides.
The Aluminum-made chassis of the PROVer has good rigidity and can handle aluminum engraving without additional reinforcements.
There are transparent baffles on two sides that prevent the chips from flying off and causing a mess.
I think this is a great feature as it lets you use this CNC inside a room and not just in a shop setting.
Additionally, it lets you watch the cutting process safely.
It has rubber bushes at the bottom that absorb vibrations and keeps the machine stable while operating.
Dampening the vibration is critical to getting a good finish with your CNC.
Linear Motion in the PROVer
The PROVer uses lead screws for linear motion.
Unlike most desktop CNC machines, 3018 PROVer moves the work bed to move the Y-axis rather than moving the gantry.
All three axes use lead screws for moving the axes, which is quite good for engraving.
Lead screw drives are prone to backlash error, but for engraving, the backlash is not much of a problem.
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Spindle used in the 3018 PROVer
You get the Genmitsu 775 spindle with the 3018-PROVer, which is a basic CNC spindle.
You can ramp up the speed to a maximum of 9,000 RPM at 36 V, which is good enough for engraving on soft materials like wood and plastics.
A 42mm mount is provided with the PROVer on the Z-axis for mounting the spindle. If you are swapping the spindle, make sure you purchase a 42mm spindle, or else you will have to swap the mounts too.
The spindle comes with an extension rod pre-attached and has an ER11 collet that lets you use tools with a shank diameter between 0.02” and 0.276”.
However, the 775-spindle is underpowered for engraving on aluminum.
Aluminum Engraving using Genmitsu 3018 CNC-PROVer
If you are looking to engrave aluminum, I highly recommend you buy the spindle upgrade, which swaps the original 775 spindle with a 775M spindle.
Another recommended buy is the aluminum spindle holder, which replaces the plastic spindle holder.
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 as 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.
Make sure you connect the wires properly, as reversing the wire will make the spindle run in the opposite direction.
When purchasing the upgrade, choose the one with the extension pre-attached, as removing the extension from your old spindle is not an easy task.
Converting the spindle holder to an aluminum one reduces noise and vibration considerably while engraving on aluminum with the PROVer.
Controller and Electronics on the 3018 PROVer
All 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.
These motors can draw a maximum current of 1.3 A and allow you to move the axes at around 100 inches per minute.
The controller board of 3018-PROVer is a reliable piece of hardware.
Many DIY CNC hobbyists consider it the ideal choice for their homemade CNC machines.
The controller uses TB6S109 stepper motor drivers that are known to be more silent than other similar stepper motor drivers.
You can draw a maximum of 4A of current through the driver, meaning you can upgrade your stepper motors without having to upgrade the drivers.
Furthermore, all the signals to and from the board are isolated via optocouplers to protect the board from high currents from connected peripherals.
For example, during hard stops, the stepper drivers may experience a heavy reverse current flow which can be passed onto the controller.
The optocouplers prevent that from happening.
The controller uses GRBL 1.1 firmware, which is the most popular firmware for 3018 CNCs.
You can use the controller to operate either a laser module or a spindle at a time.
The controller connects to your computer via a USB cable and can be run using any G-code sending/Control software that supports GRBL-based boards.
The 1.8" offline controller that is provided with the kit allows you to operate the engraver without a computer.
It is highly useful for jogging and homing the CNC.
You can use the offline controller to jog the machine and run the G-code from a memory stick.
The power supply for the PROVer can be connected to any wall socket and works with a 110 V AC supply.
All three axes have contact-based limit switches that prevent the gantry from crashing into the frame of the machine, preventing unnecessary wear and tear.
It is an accessory that comes with the 3018-PROVer that lets you zero the Z-axis, easily reducing setup time for each project.
The emergency stop button is a safety feature on the PROVer that allows you to stop the machine in case of any unwanted events.
It's a prominent red button placed in a way that makes it easily accessible.
CAD/CAM software for the PROVer
You get a three-month free subscription to Carveco CAM and design software with the 3018-PROVer.
It is an easy-to-use software and is a good tool for beginners who want to gain experience in making designs for CNC machining.
However, a free CNC software program is a better option for beginners, considering Carveco software costs $15/month after the three-month period.
Many beginners use Easel software by Inventables for CAD/CAM, while more experienced users choose Fusion 360 (personal) software for CAD/CAM.
Control Software of the PROVer
The Genmitsu 3018-PROVer uses GRBL 1.1 as the firmware, which is the latest version of GRBL.
This CNC has Arduino at its core which uses GRBL as the firmware.
To send G-Code to the controller from your computer, you'll need a G-Code-sending software program.
Sainsmart recommends the GRBL Candle software which they have made available on their website.
You'll need to install the software on your computer (Windows/Mac/Linux) before you can start communicating with the PROVer CNC.
Other GRBL software options include Universal Gcode Sender (UGS) and cncjs.
Laser Module for the Genmitsu 3018 PROVer
The laser module kit is a neat piece of attachment that lets you do laser engraving with the 3018 PROVer.
This is a 5.5 W blue laser module.
It uses a 445nm blue laser and works with a 12 V supply that draws 2A of current.
You do not require additional control electronics for the laser module, as the default controller can be configured to support the laser module.
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.
Other Upgrades for the 3018-PROVer
SainSmart offers several other upgrades for the Genmitsu 3018-PROVer that improve the capabilities of the machine.
This accessory replaces the default bed on the PROVer and adds a rotary bed with a stepper motor and two cylindrical rollers.
You can use it for laser engraving on cylindrical surfaces.
The stepper motor can be connected to the Y-axis stepper motor port on the controller.
However, you will also need to purchase the laser engraver accessory to use the rotary engraving module.
The workpiece rotates freely on top of the two rollers on the module and is not clamped down; hence it is not possible to use the spindle engraver.
This upgrade essentially converts your 3018 CNC router to a 3040 CNC router.
This is a quick and affordable upgrade if you have outgrown the work area available on the 3018-PROVer.
It will allow you to have 14.6” on the Y-axis while all the other axes remain the same.
This upgrade will also increase the footprint of your PROVer to 16.5” x 18.3” from 16.5” x 13.5”.
However, I'd recommend you look at the Sainsmart 4030 CNC before buying the extension kit as extension kits are never the same as a new CNC designed for that larger size applications.
Assembly of the 3018 PROVer
SainSmart advertises a 15-minute assembly time for the PROVer, but you should expect it to take anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes to put together.
The Genmitsu 3018 PROVer is one of the quickest CNC machines to assemble, and that in itself is a great reason to buy this machine.
It is shipped semi-assembled. The horizontal and vertical components arrive preassembled.
All you need to do is join the two pieces together, install the stepper motors add the baffles make some minor adjustments, and you are ready to go.
SainSmart provides an excellent online assembly guide, and due to the popularity of the machine, you can find lots of assembly videos on YouTube from various users.
High-quality documentation is a major point that differentiates Genmitsu 3018 CNC from other generic CNC machines on the market, which have scant documentation, if any.
If you want to skip the assembly, Sainsmart also provides a fully assembled version of its machine, which costs $150 more.
However, I recommend you don't buy the fully assembled version as the assembly time is not much, and you learn a lot while assembling this CNC.
Community Support for Sainsmart CNC Machines
Sainsmart has an active official Facebook group where you can find information and post queries related to the CNC machine.
Customer Support by Sainsmart
Sainsmart provides email support for its customers, and the quality of support is much better 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.
Final Thoughts on the Genmitsu 3018 PROVer
The SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer is definitely the best CNC engraving machine on the market for under $500.
Although there are cheaper 3018 CNCs available, the PROVer is much better in terms of the quality of components used, documentation, customer support, and community support.
The assembly is very easy, and all replacement parts are easily available on Amazon and the Sainsmart webstore.
Clearly, Sainsmart has identified the problems with the 3018 CNC market, which are lack of support and poor documentation, and they've solved it with the Genmitsu 3018 PROVer.
What's most impressive is that they've done it at a very affordable price.
- Best Entry-Level: The Genmitsu 3018-PROVER V2 is the first choice for beginners looking to enter the world of CNC machining. It offers incredible value and opens up a world of possibilities, from creating unique artwork and personalised gifts to starting your own small business.
- Effortless Enhancement: Accessories can be easily added to increase the functionality of the CNC machine. A wide range of accessories can be added, including a laser module, extension kits, powerful spindle and offline control, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can you convert 3018-PROVer into 3018-PROVer MX3?
Yes, you can convert the 3018-PROVer (GRBL) into 3018-PROVer MX3 (Mach3) and vice versa by swapping the controller board. You can purchase the MX3 controller board from Amazon to convert PROVer to PROVer MX3.
If you are unimpressed by the Genmitsu, there are other good 3018 CNC options as well-Best 3018 CNC Routers