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The Latest 3D CNC Router Buyer Guide

Author: Jack; Last Modify: Sep 11, 2020

You must have heard about the 3d CNC router, 3d wood carving machine, 3d carving machine, or 3d wood engraving machine. Do you know what kind of CNC machines these names refer to and what the 3D CNC router can do? Please follow to find the answers.

What is the 3D CNC router?

A 3D CNC router is a kind of woodworking engraving machine. It mainly refers to the CNC engraving machine that can engrave and carve three-dimensional workpieces. The 3D CNC machine integrates computer technology and machining technology. So it can engrave and carve products with a three-dimensional visual effect through a variety of processes. The 3D CNC router machine also has other names. For instance, 3D wood engraving machine, 3D CNC wood carving machine, 3D CNC wood router, 3D wood CNC machine, etc.

Types of 3D CNC router

Currently, the CNC routers that can realize 3D CNC machining work include three models. They are namely the 4 axis CNC router, rotary axis CNC router, and 5 axis CNC router. If divided by materials, the CNC 3D carving machine can include the 3D CNC wood router, 3D stone CNC router, 3D styrofoam CNC router, etc. Although named after the material, these CNC 3D carving machines can engrave a variety of non-metallic materials.

4 axis CNC routers have a swing spindle that can rotate up to 180° along the X axis. It adopts the four-axis linkage mode during working. So, it can process the left and right surfaces of the workpieces.

The rotary axis CNC router is equipped with a rotary device, which can rotate the items around the X or Y axis. So the rotary axis CNC router is also a type of 4 axis CNC router machine. However, it adds an additional rotary axis to a common 3 axis CNC router instead of a swing spindle. So it adopts a three-axis linkage working mode during working.

A 5 axis 3D CNC wood carving machine adopts a five-axis linkage working mode to conduct 3D CNC machining. According to the machine structure, a 3D 5 axis CNC router mainly falls into three types. They are namely the head/head, head/table, and table/table 5 axis CNC router. We provide the first type of CNC 3D router to mainly process non-metal materials.

What can a 3D CNC router do?

The 3D CNC router can process materials including wood, soft metal, PVC, glass, plastic, silica gel, organic glass, styrofoam, etc. And it has a wide range of applications in many industries. For instance, wood furniture, molding, advertising, construction, decoration, art, statues, and other industries.

A 4 axis 3D wood CNC machine has a swing spindle, which can engrave and carve the right, top, and left surfaces of a workpiece in one clamping. So if you want to carve the back and rear surfaces, you need to turn the workpiece manually and clamp it again. The 4 axis 3D CNC router is good at relief engraving, hollowing out, and mold carving.

The spindle of a rotary axis 3D wood carving machine can not swing from left to right. so it can only process the top surface of the workpieces. But the rotary device can fix and rotate the workpieces by 360 degrees at a uniform speed. This helps carve and engrave long and cylindrical items, like round wood sticks, rectangular wood sticks, rubber sticks, etc. Therefore, the rotary axis CNC router can produce 3D statues, sculptures, handrails, balusters, columns, pillars, etc.

Blue Elephant's 5 axis 3D CNC machining routers belong to the head/head type and adopt a gantry fixed structure. Its solid structure and rigidity make the Z-axis direction has a greater cutting force. The 5 axis CNC router is used for high precision, fast speed, and complicated 3D processing. It can produce 3D models and sculptures of wood, styrofoam, plastic, and other materials.

How does a 3D CNC router work?

The design and layout are carried out through the special CNC router software configured in the computer. And the design files are automatically transmitted to the 3D CNC router machine controller by the computer. Then the controller converts this information into G codes that can drive a stepper motor or a servo motor powered signal (pulse train) to move. Thus it controls the CNC router to generate X, Y, Z, A axes engraving path.

The basic operation of a 3D CNC router is to move the CNC router bits along the X, Y, and Z axes. These CNC router bits are driven to move their tips along the axes to conduct 3D carving and engraving. The 3D router tools usually move forward and backward along the X and Y axis, and up and down along the Z axis. The CNC router tools maintain in a fixed vertical direction. This is called 3D relief machining. For three-dimensional carving, you need to find a way to process the side surfaces of the workpieces. Therefore, it introduces the 4th and the 5th axis.

The additional axes allow the 3D wood engraving machine to cut and engrave from the side surfaces. The 4 axis CNC 3D carving machine allows the tools to engrave the workpiece at any angle within the range of 0-90 degrees on the left or right sides. To process the other two sides, you need to manually rotate the workpiece after pausing the machine. For another type of 4 axis CNC router, the rotary device secures and rotates the workpiece continuously according to the given path. The 5 axis CNC router adds one rotary axis rotating around Z axis. So you don’t have to manually rotate the workpiece to realize four sides machining.

Major parameters of 3D CNC router

Type 4 axis CNC router Rotary axis CNC router 5 axis CNC router
Brand Blue Elephant
Linkage 4-axis linkage 5-axis linkage
Working size 1212, 1325, 1530, 2040, 2030, 2060, customized 1225, 1224, 3050
Capacity 2D, 2.5D, 3D processing
Control software Type3, Artcam, Castmate, Wentai, UG, Powermill, AlphaCAM, MasterCAM, Fusion360, CAXA, ZW, depending on the specific situation
Operating system DSP, Mach3, Syntec, Siemens, NC studio, LNC, OSAI, DMS, FANUC
Materials Wood, acrylic, styrofoam, stone, plastic, PVC, rubber, resin, soft metal
Products Furniture, models, advertising signs, crafts, artworks, statues, sculptures, handrails, columns, decorations, etc.
Price $10,000 - $50,000 $6,000 - $50,000 $30,000 - $120,000

The effective working size of the 4 axis and rotary axis 3D CNC routers can be customized according to your requirements. These sizes listed in the above table are the most common ones among woodworking users.

The selection of control system and CNC router software is also based on your specific demands. Different CNC router software may be good at realizing different functions. In addition, the CNC 3D wood carving machine price is for reference only. Sometimes a small change in the machine configuration may cause a difference in the 3D wood carving machine price.

What software can a 3D CNC router use?

CNC router software serves as a bridge to make your 3D CNC machining ideas come true. You can’t take the first step without the CNC router software. All CNC router machines require the process in which file signals are converted into electric signals by the software. In general, the CNC router software falls into two major types: CAD and CAM.

CAD software refers to computer-aided design software. It is used to create and modify your design files and drawings according to your ideas. It helps make your ideas become visible electronic files. While CAM software refers to computer-aided manufacturing software. It can create G codes based on the CAD designs. The above-mentioned G codes can be regarded as commands, and direct the 3D CNC wood carving machine to move as required.

In short words, a 3D CNC router uses CAD to create files. And the CAM converts the files into a language that the CNC router can understand — G codes. Then the control system reads such G codes and drive the 3D wood carving machine to work according to the codes.

The commonly used CAD software includes AutoCAD, CAXA, ZW, Solidworks, etc. And the common CAM software includes Mastercam, Powermill, etc. There is also a type of software that integrates the functions of both CAD and CAM. For example, Artcam, Ucancam, Type3, UG (NX), CAXA, Alphacam, ZW, etc.

Our 4 axis and 5 axis 3D CNC router is compatible with many CNC router software. And the most commonly used ones include Powermill, UG, Alphacam, Mastercam, Aspire, Deskproto, ZW, and JD.

How to use 3D CNC router software?

There is much CNC router software available for the CNC 3D wood carving machine. I’ll take the Artcam as an example to briefly introduce how to use 3D CNC router software.

Artcam is one of the commonly used software for editing the engraving path of the 3D CNC engraving machine. Not only is it powerful, but the software can also import some more general-purpose relief models. It offers a series of CNC 3D carving options. This can generate the tool paths for both the whole relief engraving and a certain special area.

The software provides a series of available tool types and can fully control the tool size. With Artcam, multiple tool paths can be generated. In this way, you can combine and use various processing strategies during processing. For instance, you can perform several times of rough processing before the fine processing in a 3D CNC machining process. This can help remove excess materials before finishing.

Artcam can generate a separate tool path file for each tool or combine the tool path files of a series of tools into one large file, depending on whether your woodworking relief CNC engraving machine has a tool change function.

Artcam can generate a tool path file for each CNC router tool. And it can also put all tool path files of a series of tools into a big file. This depends on whether your 3D CNC engraving machine has the automatic tool changing function.

Steps for the Artcam to generate relief engraving paths

  1. First, click the New File icon from the file toolbar to generate a new file.
  2. Input the width, height, and resolution in the new model size dialog box.
  3. Click the File, Input, and 3D model options in the Menu options successively.
  4. Select the 3D model file from the catalog. After opening, the model file will appear in the 3D view. And then paste 3D model dialog box will appear on the screen at the same time.
  5. Edit the 3D model. For example, specify the reference X, Y, and Z position or center of the model. Determine the tool rotates around which axis.
  6. Click Paste after finishing the editing to show the 3D model. Then you can choose and program the tools, and save the tool path file in a specified format. And now you can import the file into the control system of the 3D CNC router to start engraving.

How much does a 3D CNC router cost?

The 3D wood engraving machine can achieve 3D CNC machining due to the additional one or two axes. It can make more types of products than the entry-level 3 axis CNC router. So the 3D CNC router price is also higher than the price of the entry-level ones. Since it has many types and models, the 3D wood carving machine price varies greatly.

Besides, there are many configuration options for each type of 3D CNC engraving machine. So, the 3D CNC machine price also changes depends on the different specifications and configurations. We all know that the CNC router price is affected by many factors. Let's talk about the 3D CNC router price respectively from the three major machine types.

4 axis 3D CNC router price

The 4 axis CNC router price ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 approximately. As reference only, the specific 4 axis 3D wood carving machine price could be higher or lower than this range. Also, the price is negotiable with the machine manufacturer.

The price range here refers to the 4 axis 3D CNC routers of industrial use. Of course, you can buy a small 4 axis CNC router with merely hundreds or several thousands of dollars. But these machines have small sizes and simple structures. These machines cannot work if you want to conduct mass production of furniture, statues, or other products.

The 4 axis CNC 3D carving machine price is shown in the table below in terms of different process materials.
Type Price range
4 axis 3D CNC wood router $10,000 - $30,000
4 axis 3D CNC stone router $10,000 - $30,000
4 axis 3D foam CNC router $15,000 - $50,000

Rotary axis 3D CNC router price

The rotary axis 3D CNC router price ranges from $6,000 to $50,000. Under the same conditions of other configurations, the price of the rotary axis 3D router is slightly lower than that of the 4-axis machine. But in general, the prices of the two types of 3D CNC machines are not much different. Similarly, the price is for reference only as well. Even the same model machine may have different prices due to the different destinations.
Type Price range
Rotary axis 3D CNC wood router $5,000 - $10,000
Rotary axis 3D CNC stone router $6,000 - $10,000
Rotary axis 3D foam CNC router $15,000 - $50,000

5 axis 3D CNC router price

Compared with the above, the 5 axis 3D wood engraving machine is more expensive. Some industrial models for machining metal and precise workpieces may cause over $1000,000. Blue Elephant mainly provides entry-level 5 axis CNC routers for cutting and engraving non-metal materials. So the 5 axis CNC router price ranges from $30,000 to $120,000.

Factors affecting 3D wood carving machine price

3D CNC router price depends on multiple factors. And the most important ones are from the machine itself. This reflects in the selection of machine specifications and configurations.

Machine specifications and configurations

Machine size

The worktable size of a 3D CNC router can be as small as 600x600mm and as large as 12000x3000mm. And the machine price is definitely different. The worktable can also be customized according to your demands. Generally, the larger the machine size, the higher the CNC router cost.


The power of a CNC router reflects in its cutting speed and thickness. It includes spindle power and motor power. Cutting generally requires more power than merely engraving. The larger the power, the higher the 3D wood carving machine price.

Transmission system

From the perspective of the transmission system, the 3D wood carving machine falls into a screw-driven and a rack-and-pinion-driven router machine. As everyone knows, the price of the rack-driven 3D CNC router is higher than that of the screw-driven one.

Drive system

The drive system mainly refers to the motor and driver. A 3D CNC router machine usually adopts a servo motor, stepper motor, or hybrid servo motor. Among them, the servo motor is the most expensive model, and the stepper motor is the cheapest.


Common worktables of the 3D CNC router include ordinary aluminum worktables and vacuum adsorption worktables. On the premise of the same other configurations, the price of the vacuum table is higher than that of the ordinary aluminum table.

Optional functions

In addition to the standard engraving function, the 3D wood carving machine can also add other upgraded functions. For example, the automatic tool change function, automatic loading and unloading platforms, or pressing roller, etc. In short, the more features, the higher the 3D CNC router price.

Other costs

Besides the above-mentioned configurations and specifications, there are also other factors that can affect the 3D CNC router cost greatly. The other costs could include after-sales service, packaging, shipping fees, taxes, custom clearance fees, training fees, etc. In addition, you may need to buy other CNC router bits or other tools by yourself.

The most popular 3D CNC router recommended


Why choose the 3d CNC router?

The whole bed is welded by thick-walled steel pipes, which have the advantages of high stability, strength, and durability. And it can ensure the high processing accuracy of the machine at high speed.

The 4 axis 3D wood engraving machine adopts a DSP genuine handle industrial control system and four-axis linkage working method. This ensures excellent and stable quality, good maintenance, and usability. It can control the completion of the 3D processing of the cylinder and the rotation of the tetrahedron, especially suitable for statues and figures. The 4 axis CNC router makes it easier to process and carve European-style furniture legs and stone statues.

The spindle motor of CNC router machines adopts constant power. This has the advantages of high precision, low noise, high speed, long life, and stable operation.

Equipped with a high-power imported motor, the 3D CNC router machine has a strong driving force. And it is suitable for cutting and carving all kinds of heavy stone and solid wood. The guide rails, racks, and ball screws are from famous brands, ensuring strong cutting force and high processing accuracy.

The 3D CNC router has good software compatibility. It is compatible with multiple CAD/CAM software, such as TYPE3, CASTMATE, ARTCAM, Wentai, JingDiao, etc.

Imported parts are used to ensure the highest machining accuracy and service life of the 3D CNC machines. It adopts a linear circular guide rail, double-row, and four-row ball slider with large bearing capacity, stable operation, and long life.

How to choose a 3D CNC router

1.Make your work demands clear.

This is a critical step when buying a 3D CNC router. You must understand what you want your CNC router to do. For example, the types and sizes of your processing materials and major products. This helps you determine the general size and type of the required CNC router. Because different types of 3D CNC machines are suitable for different woodwork. For instance, your major business is to carve small-sized 3D crafts. Then it could be a huge waste if you bought a high-power wood engraving machine with a worktable size over 1500x3000mm. Similarly, you can engrave and carve a big stone statue on a common 4 axis CNC router with a small working area.

2.Select a manufacturer and discuss the details.

The second step to buy a 3D CNC router is to find a machine manufacturer whether online or referred by others. You are not supposed to judge a company only by its advertisements, because it's not real or completely real. So you'd better investigate and check the manufactures through its company website, customers' reviews, and other information.

After determining a good manufacturer, you can start to discuss the details of the 3D CNC router you preferred. You need to determine all the matters related to the purchase of the machine during your discussion and negotiation. This includes not only the machine details but also the purchase terms and conditions.

3.Sign a purchase contract and wait for your machine.

It is better to sign a purchase contract with the 3D CNC router manufacturer. The contract shall specify the model, configurations, price, delivery time, destination, and all other relevant things. Because this can protect the rights and interests of both the buyers and sellers. Remember to check the after-sales service.

Precautions for using a 3D CNC router

Proper use and regular maintenance of the 3D CNC router could extend its service life. Meanwhile, the 3D wood carving machine can give full play to its properties. So users shall carefully read and comply with the following precautions when using a CNC router.
  • Keep the workplace clean and ventilated. A messy environment can easily lead to accidents.
  • Avoid direct contact with the spindle, power supply, interfaces, etc. during work to prevent electric shock.
  • Operate the 3D CNC router in accordance with the reasonable workflow allowed by the system. This can ensure high processing efficiency, good engraving effect, and safe operation.
  • Do not use a low-power spindle to do heavy work, and do not use CNC router tools indiscriminately.
  • Be sure to wear goggles and masks or use a dust collector when carving materials with a lot of chips.
  • Remember to cap the cover of the water pump to prevent debris from falling into the water and blocking the spindle.
  • Regularly clean the dust in the tool holder of the 3D CNC router. This can avoid affecting the normal operation of the CNC 3D router.
  • Before starting the 3D wood engraving machine, start the spindle motor first. Then you can proceed after ensuring that the motor rotates in the right direction.
  • Be sure not to accumulate debris or foreign matters around the CNC router. It will shorten the lifetime of the machine.
  • It'd better not use the 3D CNC router machine continuously for several days. Proper rest can protect the machine parts, main processing accuracy, and extend the service life of the machine.
  • It is forbidden to use corrosive liquids to clean the parts and keyboard of the CNC 3D wood engraving machine.

Working videos of the 3D CNC router

Blue Elephant provides various models of 3D CNC router machines. Before packaging the machine, we always conduct an engraving experiment to check the machine's properties. So, we can find and solve the problems timely to make all things straight before delivering it to customers. Our 3D CNC machines have been exported to many countries and regions all over the world. Many customers have sent feedback or product pictures and videos to us.

The working video shows a 4 axis 3D CNC router carving a Chinese-style wood pavilion. Its spindle can swing from left to right by 180 degrees. So the top, left and right sides of the pavilion can be carved in the first clamp. You need to rotate the pavilion by 90 degrees by hand to carve the rest two sides.

This video shows the rotary axis 3D CNC router engraving a cylindrical workpiece. With the help of the rotary device, it can engrave cylindrical items. For example, table and chair legs, handrails, columns, etc.

3D CNC router purchase process

Before purchasing the machine, be sure to clarify your processing requirements. For instance, the material, size, thickness, and weight of the workpieces, the final engraving effect, and requirements, etc.

To understand the final processing effect, it is best to have a 3D CNC machining demo of the 3D CNC router. One way is to ask the manufacturer to shoot video, and the other is to go to the factory to operate it in person. No matter which method is used, we must pay attention to working hours and efficiency. And we’d better fully test the performance of the machine to see if it can meet our processing needs.

The next step is to sign the contract. The contract should indicate the purchased model, configuration, price, delivery time and method, training methods, warranty terms, and payment methods. After signing the contract, a certain deposit should usually be paid according to the contract (except for those in stock).

After signing the contract, it will take several months to manufacturer your CNC router machine. It usually takes more time if your custom CNC router is not with the standard configuration. So keep in touch with the 3D CNC router manufacturer at any time to understand the progress. In case that you buy your machine from overseas, shipping could take another month.

Carefully check the package and the machine's appearance to confirm if there is any damage. After you have installed your CNC router, conduct a trial run to see how the machine works. In case of any questions, please feel free to contact the 3D CNC router manufacturer. If the engraving test is completed correctly, the test delivery acceptance is completed. According to the contract, users shall pay off the balance.