Best CNC Router and Desktop CNC Machines for Prototyping

Desktop CNC machining is one of the best ways to create real prototypes and convert your idea into reality. We would like to introduce you with some of the best CNC router and desktop CNC machines available in the market. 

These Desktop CNC machines and CNC routers can be used to prototype metal, plastic or wooden products in house. Therefore you don’t need to rely on your vendors. In this way you can also iterate your design multiple times and launch products faster in the market.

Major difference between CNC router and mill machine is in their construction, cutting tool movement and spindle speed.

CNC Router

A CNC router is primarily used to cut soft materials such as wood, plastic, Acrylic and sometimes soft metals such as aluminum. Compared to CNC mill machines, CNC routers have larger workspace (Larger X and Y but small Z axis) and are used to remove material at larger speeds. This high speed helps in cutting material fast.

In most of CNC routers part remains stationary whereas cutting tool moves in all the three directions X, Y and Z.

CNC Mill

Compared to CNC routers, CNC milling machines can be used to cut soft as well as hard materials with relatively small work area. But most Desktop CNC milling machines available in the market can cut softer materials such as aluminum or brass.

In most of CNC Mills part moves in Y direction whereas cutting tool moves in X and Z direction and cutting tool rotates at relatively high speeds.

Selection of CNC Router and Desktop CNC Machines

Following points should be considered during the selection of the best CNC Router or desktop CNC machine for your applications.

Work Area or Build Volume

Desktop CNC machines are available in various bed sizes. Bed side indicates the volume that a cnc machine can machine. Therefore the maximum part size you want to machine should be considered before the selection of CNC router.

Material to be Machined

Not all machines can machine hard materials. Therefore the capability of the machine to cut a particular material should be discussed with the machine manufacturer.

DIY or Fully Assembled machine

DIY kit CNC routers are easy to assemble, disassemble and transport. But they require initial assembly that can be a time consuming and challenging task.

Availability of CAM Software

CNC machines require G-Codes to machine a part. These G codes can be generated using CAM software. Therefore compatibility and availability of free CAM software should be checked with the machine manufacturer. Click this link to know the difference between CAD CAM and CAE.

Best Desktop CNC Machines Available in the Market

Desktop CNC MachineBuild VolumeBest Used forPrice
Bantam Tools7”×9”×3.5” Aluminum, Brass, Plastic, and PCB$3590
Nomad 883 Pro from Carbide 3D7”×9”×3.5” Plastic, PCB, Wax, Wood, Soft metal upto 6mm$2800
Shapeoko CNC Router16”×16” Plastic, PCB, Carbon Fiber, Wood and Aluminum$1320
Inventables X-Carve750×750×65mm Mostly used for wood.$2299
BobsCNC E4 CNC Machine24" × 24" × 3.3" Mostly used for wood.$898
SainSmart Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO300 × 180 × 45 mm plastic, wood, acrylic, pvc, PCB and wood$220
MillRight CNC M3 Kit Bundle260 × 260 × 50 mm Mills wood, plastic, foam, carbon fiber, PCB and soft metals.$549 to $549
This image shows a desktop cnc machine from Bantam tools
Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Milling Machine

The Bantam Tools Desktop CNC milling machine is a robust solid cnc machine that can machine aluminum, brass, plastic pcb etc. Using this machine, you can develop your prototypes at home or in your workshop.

  • Working Volume : 7” × 9” × 3.5”
  • Spindle Speed : 10,000 to 28,000 RPM
  • Solid Construction
  • Automatic Stock Location
  • High Speed
  • 2.5D AutoCAM
Nomad 883 Pro Desktop CNC Milling Machine

The Nomad 883 Pro is easy to use CNC milling machine that is used to machine plastic, wax, wood, and soft metal parts up to 6 mm thickness.


Nomad 883 Pro desktop cnc machine comes with the following features.

  • Working Volume : 8” × 8” × 3”
  • Spindle Speed : 2,000 to 10,000 RPM
  • Spindle Power : 70 Watts
  • Automatic tool Calibration.
  • Free 3D CAM Software.
Shapeoko CNC Router

The Shapeoko CNC Router is one of best available CNC routers in the market that is made from aluminum extrusions. It can be used to cut plastic, wood and aluminum parts.


Shapeoko CNC Router machine comes with the following features.

  • DIY kit (2 hour assembly time)
  • Working Volume : 16” × 16” / 16” × 33” / 32” × 16”
  • Spindle Power : 1.25 hp
  • Control Motor Type : NEMA 23
  • Customizable
  • Free 3D CAM Software.
Inventables X-Carve

This is one of the best option available for carving wooden materials at relatively larger area. You can add extra accessories to add more features to the machine.

  • Working Volume : 750 x 750 x 65mm
  • Available Free Software
  • DIY Kit
  • Customizable
  • Home switch and dust control options are available as addon.
BobsCNC E4 CNC Machine
This image shows a best DIY cnc router.
BobsCNC E4 CNC Machine

The BobsCNC E4 CNC Machine is a laser cut wooden frame DIY kit CNC machine with 610x610x85 mm cutting area. If required, larger and smaller size cutting area machine options are also available. Laser-cut wooden frame which makes it a little unstable while cutting hard materials.

  • DIY kit (First time setup and assembly can be challenging)
  • Mostly used for engraving work and cutting soft materials.
  • Laser cut wooden structure.
  • Working Volume : 610 x 610 x 85mm
  • Open source Controller software.
this image shows a low cost desktop cnc machine.
SainSmart Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO

This is a Low cost, DIY desktop mini CNC carving and milling machine. It is mostly used to engrave plastics, wood, PCB. This machine can not cut a large stock of materials.

  • Mostly used for engraving work and cutting thin materials.
  • DIY kit (First time setup and assembly can be challenging)
  • Supports the mounting of the laser head.
  • Working Volume : 300 x 180 x 45mm
  • Offline Controller.
MillRight CNC M3 Kit Bundle

This desktop cnc machine has a rigid structure and low in cost that comes with a work volume of 260 x 260 x 50 mm. If required, larger and smaller size cutting area machine options are also available.

  • Robust Structure.
  • Working Volume : 260 x 260 x 50mm
  • Customization options are available.

We will keep adding more information on various CNC routers and desktop cnc milling machines. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions on Desktop CNC Machines in the comment box.

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