Selecting a CNC Router

Selecting a CNC router for the home, or small workshop, depends very much on knowing what your expectations are.  CNC machines vary greatly in size and price.  Here we are are mainly concerned with the hobbyist end of the market rather than the professional end.  For the hobbyist, however, there is still a range of options that need to be considered.

At the hobbyist end of the market machines are commonly designated by their size:

Some larger machines might be designated similarly (e.g. 1212 might mean 1200 x 1200 mm), but more typically there actual bed dimensions are clearly indicated.

The available movement in the Z direction is also important,  Mostly this will be in the 100 - 150 mm range, and this is quite suitable for many applications.  This height limits the:

If you have special needs then the available Z travel may be more significant.  Mostly there is also some adjustments that can be made on the machine by moving the spindle up and down in its holder.  This provides some additional flexibility but, of course, not while the machine is running.

Once the required size is decided then the next decision will be where to get your machine.  For fully assembled machines there are options that that come from the USA and Europe, but only a few from Australia.  Most machines, and most usually those at the less expensive end of the market come from China.  There are some local suppliers that import Chinese made machines and they may provide some local support.  Alternatively you may choose to import directly, potentially saving considerable sums on the cost.  Care is required however as there are considerable variations in quality and reliability, and you need to be confident that you can get support and spare parts.

If you decide to import directly be mindful of: