Zenbot 4896 is a popular 4x8 CNC router, that's made in the USA and is a brand that has been around for almost a decade.
With the Mach3 control system and the Gecko G540 driver at its core, the Zenbot CNC is a reliable solution for milling sheet goods.
Zenbot 4896 CNC Review
I reviewed the machine on several parameters like build quality, work area it provides, ease of assembly, customer support, and the community around it.
The footprint of this machine is 108’’x60’’ (2750mm x1550mm) and it weighs around 400 pounds.
Zenbot 4896 is one of those CNC routers that can cut full-size 4x8 sheets with good precision.
The machine has a maximum Z-axis clearance of 4’’(100mm).
Zenbot uses 3’’ square steel tubing for the long axis and 1.75’’ steel tubing for the short axis which makes this machine quite rigid.
The ball bearings come preloaded from the company for ensuring ultra-smooth motion of the machine.
The frames are held together by steel bolts which makes upgrades of the parts in the future easy.
Additionally, all the parts that make the Zenbot CNC router are CNC cut using high-end equipment which makes sure that they have a snug fit.
The X and Y axes have strip brushes on the rails that remove the debris from the rails for smooth linear motion. The Z-axis however uses rubber seals for the same purpose.
A 20mm hardened linear rail is used on the Z-axis with recirculating ball linear bearing for extra rigidity and reduced vibrations during operation.
For wire management, Zenbot provides cable tracks and cable trays on the side of the machine. This makes your machine look clean.
Zenbot 4896 does not come with a spoil board.
You have to arrange an MDF board from your local store and make one out of it.
There are several tutorials on making a spoil board, on YouTube.
Pay special attention to work holding options you plan to use, while making your spoil board.
Zenbot 4896 can tackle materials like wood, plastic, foam, and many more with good precision and finish.
You can also mill aluminum (machine grade) with this CNC, although the belt drive does make things difficult for metal milling.
The machine is also suitable for inlays, 3D carvings, engravings, and PCBs.
Overall, it’s a multifunctional machine that can complete most of the tasks if you have all the necessary tools.
The axis on Zenbot 4896 is belt-driven. Belts used are made up of steel-reinforced urethane with 3mm pitch and 15mm width.
The advantage of belt-driven systems is they are cheap, easy to install and fast.
For a 4x8 CNC, fast movement is necessary to cover the large lengths on each axis.
The disadvantage is that sometimes it is not as accurate as CNCs which are driven by Rack and Pinion, like the Avid 4x8 CNC.
Controller and Electronics
Belts and the linear screw of the Z-axis are driven by the NEMA 23 stepper motors with holding torque of 425 oz-in.
Zenbot 4896 uses 4 stepper motors in total.
They use separate motors for the X and Z axis and two motors for the Y-axis.
Dual motors are used in the case of the Y-axis primarily to prevent racking of the long gantry.
The controller is not included in the stock kit.
You have the choice of either buying it along with the kit from Zenbot or sourcing it on your own.
You have to pay an extra cost of $499 to get a gecko g540 control box to go along with your machine.
This also includes all the wiring harnesses and connectors that you will need to drive this machine.
You also need a computer with a DB25 parallel port as this controller uses a DB25 connector to connect to the computer.
It's best to go this route, as a dedicated controller is better performance-wise compared to using your PC as the controller.
The enclosure of the gecko g540 controller is not sealed. Zenbot has a neat little space under the Y-axis gantry to protect it from dust.
For homing of the device, Zenbot 4896 uses limit switches on all three axes. This also prevents the gantry from crashing into the frame.
If you purchase the control box from Zenbot, it ships with all the connections done. You only have to hook up the respective cables to the connectors.
I suggest you label each cable while assembling as it’ll help during troubleshooting.
There are many types of “Estop switches” available that you can use with your machine.
An estop switch is a red button almost every CNC machine has that when pressed stops the machine instantly.
For connecting a VDF to the Zenbot, open the control box and make the connections as mentioned in the manual of your VFD.
Overall, the electronics part of this machine is very easy and by following the documentation of Zenbot you can connect all the parts by yourself.
Unlike most other CNC brands, Zenbot doesn't sell spindles/routers with their machine.
However, they offer several spindle mount options for you to choose from, depending on the spindle/router you plan to use.
Very few brands offer a choice with regard to the spindle mount, and Zenbot is one of them.
They provide mounts for routers of brands like Hitachi, Bosch, Dewalt, and also larger water-cooled and air-cooled spindles.
You can also get a custom mount for your spindle by providing the dimensions to Zenbot while buying your CNC at no additional cost.
While choosing a spindle keep in mind that this machine can not take very heavy spindles (like 2.2 kw and above)
Zenbot sells Mach 3 control software along with the CNC router.
This will let you control your machine using your computer.
Mach3 is a very popular control software with a matured community of users.
For CAD/CAM, Zenbot recommends Vectric Aspire and VCarve software programs.
Alternatively, you can choose free CAD/CAM programs as well.
A steel stand can be handy if you don't have a table already for your CNC.
Being able to place your CNC router on a sturdy, stable platform is essential in getting an accurate cut.
The stand comes in a kit form with a guide to help you assemble it.
The stand is already fully assembled and quality checked by Zenbot before shipping.
For work holding, Zenbot provides a table that comes with a grid of ¼-20 threaded inserts. For use, you only have to cut the matching holes on the spoil board to access the threaded inserts.
Zenbot also provides the components for setting up a vacuum table for holding down your materials.
This comes as a kit that contains valves, plumbing, and a vacuum pump.
You need to cut holes in your spoil board to match the vacuum setup.
The machine arrives in a kit format and you have to assemble it.
Zenbot promises that they assemble each CNC router themselves and disassemble it for shipping.
You’ll need some basic tools and Allen keys to put the whole machine together.
Although Zenbot is a popular CNC brand, they lack a dedicated online community or forum.
If you are a Zenbot user, you can find other owners of the machine at forums such as reddit and CNCzone.
Zenbot offers excellent US based customer support through email and phone.
Zenbot provides a one-year manufacturing warranty for its machines. Replacement parts for the machine are also available.
You also get a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. This allows you to return the machine for a full refund (minus shipping cost) within 30 days of purchase.
Zenbot also provides lifetime free support for their machines.
Zenbot 4896 CNC is a good affordable choice if you're looking for a 4x8 CNC router under $5,000.
Truth be told, there aren't any real choices if you want a 4x8 CNC router at that budget, other than the Zenbot 4896.
The use of belt drives makes it a bit less robust when compared to other 4x8 options like the Avid PRO4896.
However, it only costs half as much.
Zenbot 4896 CNC Router Alternatives
The main alternative to the Zenbot 4896 is the Avid 4x8 CNC router (formerly, CNC router parts).
They are relatively slow but can be a decent choice if you are patient, especially the Makermade Maslow M2 which is a much-upgraded version of the original Maslow CNC.
Other than Avid and Maslow, the other choices are a bit more expensive ( ~$20k), such as Camaster Stinger 2, and Shopbot PRS Alpha.
I go into detail on those choices here- Best 4x8 CNC Routers in 2022 for Milling a Full-Size Sheet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do I need to purchase the Zenbot CNC vacuum table with the machine or can it be purchased later?
No, you don’t need to bundle it with the machine. You can purchase it later on or build one on your own.
Is purchasing the steel stand an absolutely necessary?
No, the stand provided by Zenbot is only an accessory, and purchasing it is not necessary. However, you need a stable surface for the machine. You may consider buying a 4x8 CNC router table or making your own for the same purpose.