One obstacle every CNC machine user comes across is how to contain the dust produced by cutting materials. Not only is it important to contain dust to keep your workshop clean, but also for your own safety.
The solution? A CNC dust collector.
In this guide, we review the best dust collector systems for CNC machines, so that you can keep your workshop clean and safe. First, let’s take a closer look at how CNC dust collection systems work and why it’s vital to have one.
What is a CNC Dust Collector?
A CNC dust collector is a vital component of any workshop as it safely collects dust and debris that is produced by cutting materials like wood, plastics, and soft metals such as aluminum.
If dust from these materials is not safely collected and disposed of, it can cause eye and skin irritation and potentially lead to respiratory problems if breathed in.
There are four main components to a CNC dust collection system
- The dust shoe (or boot)
- The hose
- The vacuum and filter system
- The collection bag
The dust shoe attaches to your spindle or gantry and has a curtain made of flexible brush material.
This curtain covers the area immediate to the spindle, containing dust and debris to prevent it from flying outward.
While dust shoes are the more common component, some collectors use dust shrouds, which use a shroud of thin fabric or plastic instead of a brush curtain.
While the brush contains dust, it is sucked up through the vacuum system via the hose.
The dust then travels through a filtration system which collects dust and debris while the dust-free air is expelled out. Finally, the dust is deposited into a plastic bag which you then remove and empty once it’s full.
Further down this guide, we’ll look take a closer look at each of the components you need to consider when making a purchase to ensure you get the right collector for you.
Before that, though, let’s take a look at the best CNC dust collectors on the market, starting with the most affordable.
WEN 3401 – Cheapest CNC Dust Collector
Price: $160 — Available on Amazon here
CNC dust collectors generally don’t come cheap, but if you’re after the cheapest and best dust collection system under $200, then the WEN 3401 is one of the most affordable on the market.
This collector uses a 5.7-amp brushed motor combined with a 6” impeller to move more than 660 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM), which is pretty impressive for such a cheap model. There are four swivel casters that lock in place to keep it stable while in use.
It’s compatible with two dust hoses made by Wen – one measuring 10ft and the other 20ft.
It has a 12-gallon collection bag and measures 34.25”x13”x14” in size, so it’s one of the smaller collectors out there and is a good size for small home workshops.
On top of that, it has wheels and a carry handle for easy transportation, as well as a wall mount if you want to save some floor space.
It’s important to understand that this is a budget machine and it’s not going to provide the same power or usability as a more expensive one, and there are some faults.
For example, some reviewers have pointed out that as there’s no zip on the bag, so you need to empty all the waste out of a four-inch space.
However, for the price, it certainly represents good value and is a decent option if you’re using a low-power hobbyist CNC router.
Powertec DC5370 – Best Dust Collector for Small Hobbyist Setups
Price: $288.99 — Available on Amazon here
If you’re looking for a relatively affordable CNC dust collector that provides high performance, good usability, and doesn’t take up loads of room, the Powertec DC5370 is certainly one to check out.
This CNC dust collection device is specifically designed to be wall-mounted, so it’s a good choice if space is at a premium.
It has a reusable 2.5-micron dust collection bag that has a built-in window so you can easily monitor dust levels. The bag also has a zipper for easily disposing of dust, so it’s a really intuitive, well-designed collector.
The motor has dual voltages of 120V and 240V, and it runs at 7-amp at 120V and 3.5-amp at 240V, with an airflow capacity of 537 CFM, which is pretty standard for a hobbyist setup.
This is one of the most widely bought and highest rated dust collectors on the market, with a 4.6 rating on Amazon from more than 900 user reviews.
Many reviewers have praised its value for money and high performance (provided it’s used within its limits), so this dust collector is an ideal addition to a small CNC workshop.
Vevor 1.5HP Dust Collector
Price: $403.29 — Available on Amazon here
Vevor is a well-known manufacturer of hobbyist CNC machines, and the Vevor dust collector is one of the most affordable 1.5HP collectors you can buy.
The 7.1-amp motor generates 647 CFM, which is enough for demanding, continuous CNC work.
To help the collector achieve optimum performance for longer, the motor is fully enclosed and fan-cooled, and it’s also permanently lubricated which makes maintenance easier.
Another impressive aspect of this CNC dust is the vortex cone technology.
This provides constant suction and improves chip separation and packing efficiency, by dropping heavy chips into the bottom bag and capturing finer particles down to 2.5 microns in the filter before depositing safe air.
The collector is made of cast aluminum alloy for great stability, while the spin-balanced impeller helps ensure smooth operation while also keeping noise levels low. The 13.2-gallon collection bag is clear, so you can easily see when it needs to be emptied.
Shop Fox W1727 – Best Dust Collector Under $500 for High Efficiency
Price: $479.99 — Available on Amazon here
The Shop Fox W1727 1HP dust collector is a great choice if you’re looking for a high-quality, mid-range collector.
Shop Fox is a big CNC brand with a reputation for producing top-quality machines and components, and this dust collector has a 4.4 Amazon rating from over 450 reviews, so it’s clearly very popular.
It’s designed for optimum safety, with a large paddle safety switch with a removable key that ensures it can’t be used without the key. Many other dust collectors have smaller switches with no keys, so the W1727 stands out in this regard.
Another feature I like is the portable design.
The collector measures 54.5” high with the bag inflated and the base is 15.75×39.75”, so it’s small and light enough to be easily moved between different CNC machines. This saves you from having to set up different dust collection systems and ducts for each machine you have.
With a CFM rating of 800, this dust collector for CNC machines removes dust at a considerably faster rate than most hobbyist setups.
Jet DC-1100VX-CK – Best Dust Collector with 1.5HP
Price: $999.99 — Available on Amazon here
The JET DC-1100VX-CK is a 1.5HP CNC dust collector with a high-performance vortex cone system.
This ensures that only fine particles move up into the filter chamber, making it easier to clean and also making the entire working process safer.
That’s not the only benefit of this vortex cone collector, though.
It also helps stop floating chips from traveling into the filter chamber, which prevents premature clogging and therefore allows the dust collector to achieve optimum performance for longer.
This also means it’s a highly efficient dust collector, as chips are better contained, making for increased packing density and therefore fewer bag changes.
Another highly rated dust collector, the Jet DC-1100VX-CK has a 4.6-star rating from more than 150 Amazon reviews, with 80% of users giving it a 5-star rating. The power and efficiency of this model make it one of the best dust collectors for medium size hobbyist and small business setups.
Jet JCDC-2 – Best Dust Collector for Demanding CNC Work
Price: $2,229.99 — Available on Amazon here
The most expensive and powerful CNC dust collector on our list, the Jet JCDC-2 is a 2 HP cyclone collector that is well suited to demanding environments with high production rates.
As this is a more advanced CNC dust collection system, it has a very large 30-gallon collection drum rather than a standard bag, although you can line the inside of the drum with a bag.
The drum has quick-release levers and independent casters that make it easy to empty and reattach.
The cyclone system used in this collector provides a considerably higher CFM than in single-stage units. It has a highly efficient direct-mount filter than prevents airflow restriction, allowing it to capture 99% of 2-micron particles and smaller debris even below 1-micron.
This means it captures finer particles than the dust collectors we’ve looked at so far, making it more suitable for working with materials that produce very fine debris and fumes.
Thanks to the high power and constant suction, heavy debris is pulled down into the collection drum before the debris stream reaches the filter, so it’s ideal if you’re making big cuts and there are large chips flying off.
This CNC dust collector also ranks well in terms of usability, as it comes with a remote control that has a range of 50ft and it also has a double-paddle manual cleaning system for easily cleaning the filter.
What to Consider When Buying a CNC Dust Collector
As you will probably have recognized by now, there are a lot of differences from one CNC dust collection system to the next.
Here are the key factors to look at to ensure you settle on the best dust collector for your needs.
The power of your dust collector, represented by horsepower (HP), determines the speed at which dust is removed.
It typically ranges from 1HP to 2HP.
Most hobbyist setups will be fine with a 1HP or 1.5HP CNC dust collection system. It ultimately comes down to the power of your CNC machine itself, how demanding your work is, and how much dust your CNC produces per minute.
2HP collectors are typically used in high demanding, professional workshops.
Another important factor that’s closely related to the HP of a dust collector is the cubic feet of air removed per minute, represented as CFM.
The more affordable dust collectors typically have a CFM within the 400-500 range, while more powerful collectors can top 800 CFM.
Bear in mind that if you’re using one dust collector for multiple routers, you’ll need to ensure it can handle the combined CFM required by each router.
Size of Collector
As you may have gathered from reading our CNC dust collector reviews, they can vary a fair bit in terms of size, so you need to make sure you get one that will fit safely in your workshop.
If you’re planning on transporting your collector or switching between machines, you may want to prioritize one that’s small enough and has handles to be easily portable.
Another thing to consider is whether your CNC dust collection system comes with a wall mount, as this can help save space in hobbyist setups.
The filter size of a CNC dust collector is measured in microns, with one micron being 1/1,000mm. The smaller the filter size, the finer the dust and particles it captures, and the safer the collector is.
Most affordable CNC dust collectors have 2.5-micron filters or similar, which is absolutely fine for woodworking and most hobbyist projects.
However, if you’re going to be working with materials that emit fumes, such as some metals, you’ll need a much smaller filter size below 1 micron.
How much CFM do I need for a dust collector?
For hobbyist setups using a single CNC machine, you need a CNC dust collection system with at least 400 CFM, although most affordable collectors have at least 500 CFM.
If you have a larger setup with multiple machines or are carrying out intense work cutting metal or similar materials, you’ll need a dust collector with at least 800 CFM.
Is 1 micron good for dust collection?
1 micron is usually enough for most hobbyist and small business projects, as it ensures very fine dust and debris measuring up to 1/1,000mm will be caught in the filter.
However, if you’re machining materials like metals that produce harmful fumes, you’ll need a CNC dust collector with smaller filter cartridges, around 0.3 microns.
Is a 1HP dust collector enough?
It depends on your setup, how long you’re running your CNC router or mill for, and the materials you’re working with.
A 1HP dust collector is enough for small, hobbyist setups, but if you’re carrying out more demanding work, you’re best off with a collector with 1.2-1.5HP. Professional setups typically require 2HP.
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