Looking to unlock the full potential of 3018 CNC routers without breaking the bank?

You’ve come to the right place. I’ve tested the best 3018 CNC routers under $500 – and came up with a few standout recommendations. We’ll compare precision, ease of use, build quality, and how well they suit tougher materials.

The Sainsmart Genmitsu CNC 3018 PRO Router is the best choice for most users, offering a balance of power, versatility, and stability. With its effective 1.8-inch engraving depth, it’s suitable for hobbyists or beginners needing to handle a variety of materials safely and accurately.

02/18/2024 05:37 am GMT

Alternatively, for budget-conscious users or those just starting out, the Vevor CNC delivers high-quality milling and engraving at an affordable price.

If you’re a small business owner in need of advanced capabilities, the Mysweety 2 in 1 Pro CNC Router, although more expensive, meets the demands of a wider range of projects with a spindle cutter and laser for precision work.

The Best CNC 3018 Machines 

1. Vevor CNC – Best Cheap CNC 3018 Router 

  • Price: Check price on Amazon here
  • Spindle Speed: 10,000 RPM
  • Work Area: 300 x 180 x 45 mm
  • Material Compatibility: Plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, PCBs, and a wide range of other soft materials
  • Precision: 0.003 “
  • Assembly Time: Up to an hour
Vevor 3018 router

Pros

Affordable and high-quality.

Sturdy and durable thanks to the aluminum and bakelite frame.

Plenty of power to work with a wide range of different materials.

Cons

Difficult to set up.

If you’re working on a budget, the Vevor CNC is a really affordable machine that still offers high quality carving, milling and engraving. 

For starters, the aluminum and bakelite frame make this 3018 CNC machine super sturdy and durable. It’s also really user-friendly, as you don’t need to position the components – something that also improves work accuracy and stability. 

This is a really high performance rotor, thanks to the three 42 stepper motors, T8 screw rod driving units, and a 775 24V spindle motor with a rotational speed of 10000r/min. These provide plenty of power for working with a wide range of different materials, from plastic and acrylics to wood and soft metals like aluminum. 

This CNC 3018 router is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux operating systems, so virtually anyone can use it. You can connect to your computer via a USB. The router uses the open source GRBL 3018 CNC software and runs on Arduino for controlling movement when you work on 3018 CNC projects.

Best Cheap CNC 3018 Router
Vevor CNC 3018 Router Machine with GRBL Offline Control

The Vevor CNC is a very cost-effective device that provides excellent engraving, milling, and carving. You can engrave PVC, PCB, wood, leather. Working area: 300 x 180 x 45mm.

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2. Cenoz Upgrade 3018 Pro – Top Cheap Pick

  • Price: Check Price on Amazon here
  • Working Area: 300x180x45mm
  • Material Compatibility: Woods, plastics, soft aluminum, acrylics, PVC, and PCB
  • Assembly Time: 20 minutes
cenoz cnc 3018 router

Pros

One of the cheapest CNC metal machines that offer good quality.

Good for beginners and students.

Can cut a variety of different materials.

Cons

Some find the software difficult to use.

If you’re looking for the cheapest CNC metal machine that still offers good quality, you can’t go wrong with the Cenoz Upgrade 3018 Pro. 

This is really user-friendly machine that’s perfect for beginners and students. You can cut a great variety of different materials, such as plastics, PCB, PCV, wood, acrylics and aluminum.  

It comes with both manual and computer control, so you can manually operate the axes if you like. We really like the intelligent GRBL 3 axis control board, as it provides great control and accuracy when working with the router. 

Other useful features include an integrated driver chip, a fixed heat sink and an external fan which helps keep the machine cool and improve working life. 

If you’re wondering what the “Pro” means, it simply shows that this model is an upgrade on the original Cenoz 3018 CNC machine. This is something that’s common among CNC routers, like the one below. 

You can use the Cenoz Upgrade 3018 Pro with Windows and Linux computers. 


3. Sainsmart Genmitsu CNC 3018 PRO Router

Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 Pro router

Pros

Fantastic stability.

Very versatile machine.

Comes with an over-voltage protection, over-current protection, and short-circuit protection making it very safe.

Cons

No major drawbacks, this is one of the most popular 3018 CNC machines for a reason.

The Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PRO is easily one of the most popular 3018 CNC machines out there.  

When you check out the specs and features, it’s easy to see why. For example, it’s a very versatile machine with a 1.8-inch effective engraving depth, so you can cut all types of plastics, acrylics, woods, soft metals and more.

It has fantastic stability thanks to the 4cm base height and sturdily constructed metal frame. The Gemitsu 3018 also offers plenty of accuracy and powerful with a 750 motor spindle with 10,000 RPM.

This is a very safe 3018 Pro CNC machine, as the upgraded power adapter has over-voltage protection, over-current protection, and short-circuit protection.

You can use this machine with the high quality GRBL software which runs on Arduino. This software is well known for its dependability and simplicity, so it’s a great choice for beginners and hobbyists. It also includes the CARVECO Maker CAM design software. 

This is an Amazon-recommended product and has hundreds of positive reviews from happy customers. We also like that you can easily upgrade to a 3040 router by getting the Genmitsu 3040 Y axis extension kit in case you find yourself needing more room for your projects.

Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit
$249.99 $190.67

The 3018 PRO from Sainsmart has a sizable build surface that can handle even large wood projects and is efficiently fastened down thanks to its sturdy aluminum frame. 

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02/18/2024 05:37 am GMT

4. TopDirect 2 in 1 CNC 3018 Pro – Cheap CNC Router with Laser Engraver 

topdirect 2 in 1 3 cnc and laser engraver

Pros

Has both a spindle motor and a 7000mW laser head.

It can be run offline.

High engraving power with impressive accuracy.

Cons

Need to build this DIY router yourself, but the instructions are really helpful.

The standout feature of the TopDirect 2 in 1 CNC 3018 Pro – and the reason it’s called “2 in 1” – is that it has both a spindle motor and a 7000mW laser head.  

As it has a laser engraver as well as a router spindle, you can use it on an even wider range of materials. For example, as well as the standard woods and plastics, it can be used on bamboo, ivory, leather, ceramic, and metal surface painting.

You can control this machine offline without a computer if you want to operate it manually. This means you don’t need to download any files. Alternatively, you can run it with GRBL software.

The TopDirect 2 in 1 offers high engraving power with impressive accuracy. We like that it has an aircraft aluminum heatsink with a cooling fan which ensures it can work continuously over long periods. 

This CNC 3018 Pro machine is perfect if you’re looking for extra safety, as it has a protective design with 5mm acrylic baffles on both sides. 

You need to build this DIY CNC router yourself, but the instructions are really helpful, so you shouldn’t have any issues getting started. 


5. Mysweety 2 in 1 Pro CNC Router – Best 3018 CNC With Laser

MySweety CNC pro router

Pros

Has some great features for milling and engraving.

It can be used offline without having to connect to a computer.

Super easy to assemble and use.

Its advanced features are great for small business owners.

Cons

Can be too expensive for some.

The Mysweety CNC 3018 Pro engraving machine is a slightly more expensive router that has some great features for milling and engraving.

This is another 2 in 1 CNC 3018 Pro machine that boasts both a spindle cutter and a laser for more precise engraving. This means you can work on a wide variety of materials and projects than you can with cheaper routers.  

One of the best things about it is that you can use it offline without having to connect to the computer. It comes with an SD card to write into the root directory G code, meaning you don’t need to download any files. You can manually adjust the location of the three axes, manually open or close the spindle, and manually open or close the cooling fan. 

This DIY CNC 3018 is super easy to assemble and use, so you don’t need to be an expert. It’s very compact with an aluminum profile and 4cm base height, so it’s both stable and durable. 

Although it’s one of the more expensive CNC 3018 router machines, we think its advanced features make it ideal for small business owners. 

Best 3018 CNC Machine for Small Businesses
MYSWEETY 2 in 1 7000mW CNC 3018 Pro Engraver Machine
$338.00

This adaptable CNC router kit, a 3-axis DIY CNC router with a strong spindle and a 5.5-watt laser engraving module, is ideal for engraving and carving wood. 

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02/18/2024 06:02 am GMT

What is a 3018 CNC?

The 3018 that you so commonly see attached to the name of CNC machines is simply a reference to the size of the machine. 3018 CNC machines have dimensions of 300mm x 180mm. Most of the time when you see a CNC machine with numbers in its model number, it’s due to the same reason. 

CNC 3018 machine

As you can imagine, 300mm x 180mm is an ideal size for a CNC engraver that can fit on a desktop or benchtop. This is why you see more CNC 3018s than other machines, like 2418s and 1610s. They’re also very good value — you can purchase many different 3018 CNC machines online for around $200 — and we recommend our top choices in this article.

The majority of CNC 3018 machines, and particularly the cheaper ones, use metal cutters mounted in a spindle to work on materials. However, if you spend a bit more you can get a CNC 3018 laser machine. These can offer more accurate engraving than other CNC routers, and lasers can also be used on a wider variety of materials.

Things to Consider When Choosing

Spindle Speed

The higher the RPM, the faster the machine can engrave or mill materials. All our reviewed routers have a spindle speed of 10,000 RPM which is sufficient for most hobbyists and beginners’ needs. If speed is a paramount concern, these models deliver quite satisfactorily.

Material Compatibility

Material compatibility varies across these budget routers.

While they all handle plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PCBs, and PVCs quite well, the TopDirect 2 in 1 CNC 3018 Pro stands out for its ability to work with a wider range of materials including bamboo, ivory, leather, and ceramic due to its integrated laser engraver.

Assembly Time

The Cenoz Upgrade 3018 Pro is the winner in the assembly time category, boasting a quick setup time of just 20 minutes. Conversely, the Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PRO requires up to 2 hours to assemble – but it is certainly worth the wait and sitll my top pick overall.

ProductAssembly Time
Vevor CNCUp to 1 hour
Cenoz Upgrade 3018 Pro20 minutes
Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROLess than 2 hours
TopDirect 2 in 1 CNC 3018 ProUp to 1 hour
Mysweety 2 in 1 Pro CNC RouterUp to 1 hour
Assembly time comparison

CNC 3018 Capabilities  

There are numerous jobs that can be performed by a CNC 3018 machine, and most models can perform multiple functions. Here are a few of the functions 3018 CNC machines can perform:

MillingMilling is where a machine uses rotary cutters to remove material from a workpiece, by mounting a cutter in a spindle and then cutting the material at different angles as it moves along the axes. 
EngravingEngraving uses the same process as milling, but it specifically only cuts small depths to engrave things like decorations and signs. Some CNC 3018 machines use lasers for engraving rather than spindle cutters. 
DrillingCNC drilling machines use rotating cutting tips to drill holes in a workpiece. 
CuttingThis is the most basic CNC 3018 machine function and is simply the cutting of materials like wood, plastics and soft metals into workable shapes. 

Most CNC 3018 machines can work with a wide range of different materials:

  • Wood (natural woods and composites like MDF)
  • Plastics (acrylic, PCV, PCB)
  • Soft metals like copper and aluminum

The only major exception when it comes to most CNC 3018 machines is hard metals – you’ll need a dedicated metal cutting CNC machine to work with materials like steel.

3018 CNC Router Applications 

3018 CNC machines are used for a whole variety of different jobs, both by professionals and hobbyists. Due to the range of functions they can perform and the variety of materials they can work with, they’re valuable tools across a whole range of industries.

CNC 3018 machines are commonly used commercially by carpenters as they can perform the functions of several different tools. For example, with a 3018 CNC router a carpenter can perform functions that would otherwise require separate machines, such as a panel saw, a boring machine and a spindle molder.

CNC 3018 applications

3018 machines are also widely used in industry to create custom molds, signs in the advertising industry, and even bespoke CNC furniture.

As the best CNC 3018 machines are fairly cheap and widely available, they are also commonly used by hobbyists for home CNC project ideas. Whether it’s for making home decorations or for more practical uses, these low cost routers offer a whole range of possibilities.

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Alan Lewis

Alan is an experienced writer and hobbyist in CNC technology, and brings an extensive background to his writing at CNCSourced. He has several years of working with hobbyist machines like laser cutters and CNC routers, as well as a degree in Mechanical Engineering and numerous certifications. Alan tests and reviews many of the CNCs we review at CNCSourced, and is known for his comprehensive guides and product reviews.

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