The 10 Best CNC Machines
This wiki has been updated 10 times since it was first published in October of 2018. Computer Numerical Control, or CNC, cutting, is a powerful way to turn your artistic or structural visions into reality, using the unparalleled precision and consistency of digital instructions. From hobby-oriented models meant for low-volume wooden art, to high-output, laser-based options that may require a commercial truck to move, one of these machines will have you routing beautifully. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 14, 2020:
There continues to be a pleasantly diverse range of models in this category fit for everyone from weekend tinkerers to professional craftsmen. And wherever a given user falls on that range will likely go a long way toward telling them what they ought to look for in a machine. One of the new additions to our ranking, the Snapmaker Original All Metal, earned such a high rating due to the simplicity of its interface and included software for use by beginners, but also for its ability to take you deeper as you improve, or to offer experienced users a durable and reliable platform for their work, with a high spindle speed and sturdy aluminum alloy frame.
More serious users should consider options like the Shuangbing Plasma or Axiom Precision AR4 Pro, though it should be pointed out that the specs these models offer, like four-axis control or the ability to cut through significantly thick material do come at an added cost. Some of our offerings fall in a nice mid-ground in approachability, if not price. The Next Wave Automation Shark SD120, while expensive, is one of those options you can buy to train on and use for decades. As a tabletop model, though, you'd better have a worktable dedicated to it before bringing it into your home or workshop.
November 26, 2018:
First of all, when it comes to flat CNC tables, there are routers, and there are plasma cutters. Fundamentally, they operate in a similar way, but in practice, they're not very much alike. Routers (the spinning kind, not the wireless kind) can, in fact, cut many types of metal, but you'll need the right bits, as well as somewhat fine motor controls to achieve the proper RPMs. Our top choice is interesting because it was concocted by a guy who apparently got sick of low-quality, imported power tools. The Shuangbing, on the other hand, is an imported oxyfuel-driven tool that appears to work well, and it even breaks down small enough to fit into a decently sized truck (of course, it's still pretty long). Home hobbyists claim to enjoy Next Wave's products across the board, though some people seem to think they'll be experts right from the jump — using almost any of these requires a bit of experience and skill, though. The UContro is a relatively affordable means for pro-grade wood- and metalworkers to get by, while industrial professionals will likely prefer the Newlin or the Axiom.
Inventables X-Carve Pro Available with work areas measuring 2x4 or 4x4 feet, this model has some of the finest components available, including a 1.5 kW spindle and an effective dust shoe to keep the cutting space pristine. It comes with three years of Easel Pro design software, as well as a one-year warranty that you can readily extend to three. inventables.com