How Do I Choose the Best Used CNC Router?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A used CNC router uses computer numeric control (CNC) technology to make accurate and repeated cuts into a piece of material such as wood, metal, or plastic. To choose the best used CNC router, you will first need to determine your purchase budget, the type of work you will be doing, the volume of work you will attempt to do with the machine, and the features you need on the machine. Even used machines can be quite expensive, and just about all models will take up a significant amount of space in a shop, which means you will need to take measurements to ensure you buy an appropriately sized model.

One of the most important considerations when choosing a used CNC router involves the type of programs included with the machine. Any computers used with the machine should be up to date and capable of running the included software; the software should be relatively easy to use and reliable, and it should be as up to date as possible. You may need to learn how to use the software if you have never run a CNC machine before, and up-to-date programs tend to be more efficient and easy to use.

Think about what kinds of materials you will be cutting and what volume of jobs you will be completing. A used CNC router may be designed for industrial or heavy-duty use, but it may also be designed for hobby or light-duty use. Analyze your needs before choosing a machine to avoid paying too much for a machine that is too large for your needs, or buying a machine that will not be suitable for the amount of work you need to do. The size of the machine will also dictate how large of a piece of material you will be able to work, so think carefully about what jobs you will be doing on a regular basis.

The router bit will be mounted to a rack that moves over the piece of material to be machined. Various types of drive systems exist for this purpose; a rack and pinion system on a used CNC router is reliable, low maintenance, and easy to clean, but it may not be the most solid system for avoiding kickback or damage to the rim of the cuts. Ball screw systems are less likely to kick back and cause damage to the materials, but they can also be more expensive.

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