best cnc machine for small business

Best CNC Machines For Small Business 2021: Buyer’s Guide (Every Price Range)

A pre-programmed cutting machine might sound like a bit of a mouthful, but it is just the thing to save you valuable time. Increasing productivity is key to any business, and the best CNC machines for small businesses deliver precise cuts, and fast results.

A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine can be used to mill, weld, engrave, grind, lathe, laser, stamp metal sheets, and so much more. However, if you plan on setting up a store selling custom wooden wares on Etsy, or need a more professional CNC machine for prototyping or commercial part production, you’ll need a CNC router or CNC milling machine.

CNC machines make consistent pieces, removing layers of material until you have that finished piece of jewelry, engraved wooden commission piece, or even wooden furniture. Most small business owners appreciate their versatility, as they can open up new opportunities.

The best CNC machines for a small business we recommend can work with a wide variety of materials and many different applications, from making exciting seasonal pieces, prototypes, or even a new range of products for your shop page. They’re often used to make personalized wooden ornaments and Christmas decorations, or metal plaques to hang on a nursery door. 

In the following list, we recommend a variety of CNC machines for home businesses.

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Affordable CNC machines for shops and simple crafts

1. Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver – Best Affordable CNC Engraver For Low Cost or Beginner Ventures

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Very affordable (and a cheap way to try out CNC technology)
  • Works with a variety of materials
  • Optional laser engraver upgrade option

Cons

  • More expensive brands are sturdier, more powerful and offer better quality and larger work area

Simplicity is key to this machine, and its 1.8 inches of engraving depth makes it an attractive option for anyone looking to personalize simple pieces such as wooden coasters with character designs for an Etsy store or other venture.

Although it comes as a CNC kit, it is one of the easier CNC machines to assemble. You can have it up and running in around an hour, ready to put the 300 x 180 x 45 mm working area to work.

Although it doesn’t have the sturdy build quality of more expensive brands, it can still be used for light milling and engraving, so there are plenty of hobby craft business projects it can be used for. This is all thanks to its stepper motor-head, making it compatible with all types of plastics, wood, soft aluminum, acrylics, and more.

For fine-tuning, there is the option of adding a laser engraver attachment to the motorhead. With this add-on, it becomes an even more useful CNC machine for your home shop, as you can switch out the CNC router for all your engraving needs.

Because the router does not have a limit switch, mistakes are more likely. Still, at $200, it makes for an affordable entry point for anyone looking to upgrade their small business and work on different projects.

sainsmart genmitsu 3018 prover

2. Vevor CNC 3018 – Best CNC machine for a shop making small crafts

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Made from durable aluminum alloy
  • Simple setup — good for beginners looking to make and sell crafts

Cons

  • Can’t work with tough materials

Another 3018 CNC machine, if you are new to the world of CNC, then Vevor has made a product that makes for an easy entry point.

It is great for engraving a variety of plastics, ideal for making personalized jewelry and accessories. It can also engrave aluminum, wood, and PVC among others. The offline controller is a nice addition, letting you use it with or without a computer.

When looking for an affordable CNC router for home business, you might not expect such sturdy build quality. The aluminum alloy and bakelite materials inspire confidence and look the part. 

The Vevor 3018’s spindle speed can reach 10,000RPM which, while not the fastest on our list, is far from a slouch for engraving signs or phone cases. For simpler projects such as these, the 300 x 180 x 45 mm work area is more than enough.

It will struggle to get through hard materials, and can’t cut metals, but it will be more than enough to make custom engravings and small crafts like key holders without any issue.

It is ideal for a small woodworking shop that wants to make engraving easy and because of the budget price point (it can be picked up for as little as $150), it won’t put a dent in your profits.

vevor cnc 3018

Best CNC machines for small businesses and more professional projects

3. Maslow CNC – Best For Making Furniture Under $500

Pros

  • Astonishingly large 4 by 8 foot work area
  • Very affordable for the size
  • Fits compactly in your workshop to save space

Cons

  • Can take a while to build

This is one of the best CNC machines for a small business with a garage workshop. It’s enormous — you can cut entire pieces of furniture with it! — but because it hangs at a 90-degree angle up against your wall, it actually saves precious space. 

Woodworking CNC machine reviews rate it highly. This is because it offers a unique mix of affordability and the ability to make furniture. Large wooden projects like custom chairs are possible with the Maslow CNC and its 4 x 8 ft work area.

For more info: our ranking of the best 4×8 CNC routers

The affordable $549 price tag is surprising for many reasons. Firstly, you don’t expect to get all the functionality the Maslow CNC has to offer — but you will have to compromise a little. The assembly takes a little longer, especially since you need bricks, plywood, and 2×4’s to assemble it.

Also, it is not ready to go out of the box, so you will need to install the software and make a few tweaks before it can be used to make that first woodworking project.

However, once calibrated, the software works well on a variety of PCs, tablets, and Raspberry Pi computers. The feed rate of 20 to 35 inches per minute is fine for most, but it can cut plywood up to 2 meters long. Making use of gravity and chains, it returns to the same position to make accurate cuts, and repeatability is one of its strengths.

maslow cnc

4. MakerMade M2 – Upgraded 4×8 CNC machine for small businesses making furniture

Pros

  • Vertical design saves space
  • Huge 4×8 foot work area
  • Sub-1mm repeatability

Cons

  • Have to provide spindle yourself

Another space-saving option, the MakerMadeM2 hangs from a wooden backboard and uses a pulley system to move. Because it hangs vertically, it is an ideal CNC machine for small businesses based in a garage or where space is limited — but who still want to cut and carve large wooden parts. 

Seasoned CNC vets will know how messy things can sometimes get when working on large furniture projects. To protect the user, the built-in dust collector makes cleaning up a lot easier. 

The repeatability is always within 1mm, making it one of the most accurate CNC machines on our list. This is especially important when making furniture where every piece needs to fit perfectly.

For these large furniture projects, the large 4×8 foot cutting area, like the Maslow CNC, makes these projects a breeze. But that doesn’t relegate it to only large cuts — it will certainly make light work out of small projects such as keepsake boxes and other crafts.

There is also a laser cutter upgrade available, and with a 40-inch/min cutting speed, it is going to be able to get through large commission pieces faster than a lot of the competition.

makermade m2

5. BobsCNC Evo 4 – Best CNC Machine For Woodworking

Pros

  • Very accurate
  • BobsCNC has a reputation for excellent customer service
  • Generous cutting area

Cons

  • Replacement parts can be difficult to source

Because it can work with large plywood sheets, wood, and aluminum, the BobCNC Evo4 is one of the best CNC machines for a small business. It can turn your garage into a mini factory and bring an array of mid-sized designs to life.

BobsCNC are known for offering excellent customer service. And while you may not need much extra support if you’re well versed in common CNC problem troubleshooting, if this is your first CNC machine, this can be a valuable resource. 

Its cutting area measures 610 x 610 x 85 mm, making it ideal for a small business that makes crafts such as personalized wall tiles, photo frames, wall signs, and custom jewelry. It also features a birchwood frame, a self-squaring gantry, and a mount to accommodate different routers such as the quieter DeWalt DW611.

You’ll need to set aside a few hours to assemble the machine. Once assembled, you get to experience the accuracy of its 0.002 – 0.004” repeatability, and you’ll understand why this is one of the best CNC machines for a home business.

bobscnc evo 4

6. Snapmaker 2.0 – Best 3-in-1 CNC Machine

Pros

  • Not just a CNC machine — it can also 3D print and laser engrave
  • 3 different sizes available to fit your needs
  • A complete making factory in one machine
  • Reliable and popular — Kickstarter’s most-funded technology project of all time!

Cons

  • Less useful if you don’t need a 3D printer

If you are the ambitious type, you will get a lot of use out of this 3-in-1 CNC machine. It can also be used for CNC, 3D printing, and laser engraving, giving anyone who owns it the advantage of versatility.

It is available in 3 sizes that will suit different budgets, with the A150, ($1,199), A250 ($1,499), and the large A350 ($1,799) which we will look at in more detail.

Switching the heads to use the different functions takes only a matter of minutes. It won’t take long before you can 3D print a commissioned 3D superhero figure, then switch out the 3D printer to engrave it and make it unique.

The build volume of the Snapmaker 2.0 A350 measures 320 x 350 x 350 mm, making it an ideal CNC machine for a small shop. It can 3D print materials such as PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU, but anyone who doesn’t want to use the 3D printing capability will want to stick to a standard CNC machine.

For CNC, it has a dedicated machining bed made up of an MDF wasteboard. This is where the clamps can be inserted to hold the workplace steady, and it has a sturdy feel to it when milling. You can also purchase a rotary axis, turning it into a 4 axis CNC router and giving you more dimensional options.

Its spindle speed can be switched between 6,000 – 12,000 RPM and it can be put to use to engrave text and images, so those custom coasters showing a favorite memory are going to come out great. It can also be used to cut out object outlines.

snapmaker 2.0

7. Carbide Shapeoko XL / XXL

Pros

  • Generous cutting area
  • Intuitive control
  • Powerful spindle

Cons

  • No dust collecting plate

With a cutting area of 16 x 16 x 3 inches, this is a great option for any small craft business. It works with a variety of materials such as acrylic, ABS, and Delrin, but you’ll probably find it most useful for soft metals and up to ¼ inch woods.

The Carbide Shapeoko comes in different sizes, including the regular, as well as XL, and XXL, all with different cutting areas. Each model is easy to assemble so you can be up and running in an afternoon, experimenting with some new items for your craft shop.

It runs on the open-source network GRBL framework so the opportunities for new ideas are pretty much endless. It works with the Dewalt DWP-611 spindle, which feels incredibly powerful when coupled with the heavy-duty stepper motors — can get through stock materials without much issue.

If we are trying to find issues, we would have to say that the lack of a dust collector is a bit of a hassle. This can be rectified, especially if you work with care, but dust can spill over at times. The control software isn’t intimidating, and it has a simple operating system that will please a beginner.

carbide shapeoko 4 xl

8. Inventables X-Carve – Best CNC Machine For Beginners

Pros

  • Has a dust collection plate
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with an X-controller that automatically stops the machine

Cons

  • More advanced setup process

The Inventables X-Carve comes as a kit that includes everything you need to assemble a working machine. There is also an upgraded version that has all the bells and whistles such as a bigger working area, Nema23 stepper, and ACME Z-Axis lead screw among other add-ons. 

Inventables have added a dust collection plate that goes under the spindle. This is a welcome addition that the previous model didn’t offer, and a nice feature for keeping your home workshop clean.

The X-controller is another great extra — a big red button that completely stops the machine in case you experience a belt slip that could otherwise ruin your project. 

The X-Carve can cut just about anything except hard metals and soft fabrics. Any basic project, like engraving words in wood, can be done with minimal issue.

Thankfully, the support forums are helpful because some may find the setup difficult. Still, it doesn’t take long, so you can make the most of the generous 750 x 750 x 65 mm work area, and engrave those custom photo albums and personalized chopping boards.

inventables x-carve

9. Zmorph Fab – Best CNC Machine Under $5,000

Pros

  • Professional-level machine
  • Works with a wide range of materials
  • Functions as a CNC machine, 3D printer or laser engraver — and can even 3D print food!
  • Impressive safety features
  • Easy toolhead switching

Cons

  • Might be a bit pricey for some

Another 3-in-1 machine that can seemingly do it all. An impressive list of over 50 materials are compatible with this professional machine, and its build area of 235 x 250 x 165 mm makes it ideal for 3D printing small crafts, and then engraving them for a personal touch.

There are 5 different tool heads. Switching between each one only takes a minute thanks to the SMART Toolheads System that detects which tool is in use. The Zmorph Fab’s advanced programming makes this far simpler than some other machines, and makes for a more efficient and effective workflow overall.

The build area is fully enclosed and is one of the safer CNC machines for a small business to use indoors. It has a HEPA/Carbon filtration system moves fumes and particles away, preventing you from inhaling them. 

Overall, the Zmorph Fab is an advanced, reliable CNC machine for small businesses and shop use. It’s reliable and designed to work around the clock, so you can trust it to build and carve those larger custom pieces throughout the night, saving you time.

zmorph fab

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