More accessible than ever, you can now buy hobbyist desktop CNC routers online for just a few hundred bucks.
While not as powerful as milling machines, these new small CNC router kits offer a great introduction into CNC carving, and many are even making some extra cash selling their homemade wares — making buying a CNC router an excellent and shrewd investment.
So, whether you’re a hobbyist looking to create your own crafts, make some extra money, or a more professional buyer looking to create furniture, signs, or prototypes, we’ve put together a buying guide for how and where to buy a CNC router or CNC machine, as well as the factors to study to compare them.
Where To Buy a CNC Router or CNC Machine?
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Amazon – Best for buying cheap CNCs
Amazon is a great place to buy CNC routers for a low price, especially if you’re a beginner or on a budget.
They have one of the widest selection of affordable CNC routers around, with popular models by Sainsmart and Vevor, as well as BobsCNC machines, Snapmaker 3-in-1 printers, and more.
CNC routers we recommend include:
- Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 Pro
- Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver
- Sainsmart PROVerXL 4030
- Vevor 3018
- Vevor 4 axis
- Maslow CNC
- MakerMade M2
- Masuter 4040 CNC
- FoxAlien 4040 CNC
- Snapmaker 2.0
MakerMade – best for 4×8 CNCs
MakerMade is the best places to buy 4×8 CNC routers online – without spending $3,000+.
MakerMade not only sell CNC routers, but also their own range of 3D printers. Their main products are the original Maslow CNC, with its phenomenal 4×8 foot work area, and their upgraded version, the MakerMade M2 — also 4×8.
Their accessories range is loaded with router bits, clamps, wall mounts and other key tools to get the most out of your CNC router including a laser add-on, and MakerMade even have a community area to discuss cool projects and troubleshoot with other makers.
Read more: the best 4×8 foot CNCs
MatterHackers – best for buying mid-range CNC routers
MatterHackers are known for their huge selection of prosumer 3D printers, stocking highly-rated professional 3D printers by the likes of Ultimaker, Makerbot, Raise3D, Dremel, and more. Lesser known perhaps is that they also stock laser cutters and CNC routers.
While they don’t sell any low-cost routers you’ll find on Amazon or Sainsmart’s store, they offer a variety of prosumer CNC routers for small businesses and passionate makers looking to sell their wares and make a profit. These include:
Snapmaker – best for 3-in-1 CNCs with lasers and 3D printers
Snapmaker might not be considered a CNC router store, but those looking for a CNC router shop should keep the 3-in-1 3D printer in mind as a versatile jack-of-all-trades machine.
The Snapmaker 2.0 comes in three sizes, from the smallest A150 to the largest A350 (we own and have reviewed the A350 – it’s great), and not only functions as a CNC router, but can be switched out to a 3D printer or laser engraver in just a couple minutes with 4 screws.
CNC Router Price: What Can I Get For My Money?
If you’re buying a cheap CNC router, you can only expect it to have 3 axes. This means that while it functions with an X, Y and Z axis, you’re mostly restricted geometrically to flat cutting out on block materials, and 2.5D engraving-style CNC carving. They’re like handheld routers
If you want to buy a 4 axis CNC router or machine, you gain access to another dimension, and some CNC routers such as the Snapmaker 2.0 offer a 4-axis router add-on to turn your CNC carving toolhead into a lathe-style cutter as you can now turn the workpiece.
With this, you can make wooden statues and other figurines, as well as cylindrical chair and furniture legs. Vevor offers one of the cheapest CNC routers for sale, starting at around $1,000.
Read more: 3, 4, 5 axis CNC explained
CNC router price ranges
Generally, though there are many places to buy a CNC router, prices coalesce around these price ranges:
Smallest, cheapest CNC routers: $300 to $700
These most basic CNC routers are often small in work area — such as 3018 CNC routers with a 300 x 180 mm work area. However, the Maslow CNC, costing around $549, is an enormous 4×8 foot work area CNC router kit you can cut entire furniture pieces with.
They’re shipped as kits so you’ll need to assemble them yourself, and are less user-friendly, and with fewer quality-of-life-improving features and self-regulatory or safety features.
CNC routers in this price range include:
Medium-priced, prosumer CNC router price: $700 to $3,000
At this price range you’re assured of better reliability and quality of parts, a more powerful router that can comfortably cut tougher materials, usually a larger work area, better accuracy, and other features that make these CNC routers better suited for commercial projects — such as if you’re looking to make money with your CNC router.
These CNC router prices include:
Industrial/Commercial CNC router prices: $3,000
When buying these CNC routers you can expect perfect quality, and very powerful and effective cutting and carving across the board.
Commercial 4×8 CNC router tables start at around $4,000, and if you want a 5 axis CNC router, expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars.
Cheap CNC routers can cut softer materials like:
- Carbon fiber
- Sometimes, softer metals like aluminum
Whereas laser cutters can often cut similar materials, CO2 laser cutters in particular struggle with aluminum, and other thick materials, like Polycarbonate.
More professional (and expensive) CNC routers for sale you can buy can cut and engrave:
- More metals
- Tiles (there are ways to do this more with less powerful layers by engraving a layer that has been on top of the tile / glass / similar material)
Generally, buying a cheaper CNC router means you get a smaller work area, though some like the Maslow CNC buck this trend.
On these smaller 3018 or 6040 CNC routers you can still engrave, cut and carve crafts like coasters, small decorations and holders, but with larger routers (or with a 4th axis) you can create furniture legs and parts, CNC signs, and larger character designs.
Ease of use
Buying a CNC router for a lower price almost assures you you’ll be spending a few extra hours piecing it all together. And if you up the difficulty further by buying a CNC router kit from plans you find online or come up with yourself, that you need to source all your own parts for, then you can’t expect an intuitive, user experience-optimized machine.
Popular kits like the Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 range take a few hours to put together, and this is a good barometer to assume for assembling most kits.
When assembling the Snapmaker 2.0, it took around an hour — though this may be complicated by the set up for collecting wood or other material chips that you’re cutting out.
More expensive CNC routers you can buy offer better interfaces, cleverer and more efficient workflows, and generally make your life easier.
Types of CNC Machines To Buy
We’re focusing on CNC routers in particular here, but, especially for more industrial use, there are also:
And many others.
These more industrial machines mostly offer better precision, more geometric complexity by virtue of more axes, cutting tougher materials, and larger build areas. However, aside from laser cutters which can cost just a few hundred dollars (read our cheap laser cutter recommendations here), these are industrial machines.
This guide covers mostly CNC routers, which are the simplest and cheapest CNC machine. They’re typically smaller (though some 4×8 CNC routers offer commercial size cutting at consumer prices), fairly accurate (especially if they feature ball screw transmissions), and offer decent work areas for how compact they are, owing to their efficiently packed gantry system.
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