Review of the Annoytools 3018 plus CNC Router for Beginners
I was excited to test out an inexpensive starter machine to learn the fundamentals of CNC routing and laser engraving as I was new to these fields. Upon conducting research on various entry-level desktop CNC options, I ultimately opted to buy the Annoytools 3018 plus router kit. Given its small size, laser module included, and overall excellent value, it looked like the ideal starter model to begin learning on.
I'll discuss my personal unboxing, assembly, and testing of the Annoytools 3018 plus CNC router as a novice in this review. I'll go over the main characteristics, advantages and disadvantages I found, sample projects, and advice on how to use this accessible CNC machine.
Unboxing and Assembly of the 3018 plus CNC Router
I couldn't wait to open the package, take out each part, and put my new desktop CNC router together. The parts were all neatly packaged, labeled, and arrived in a secure manner.
I discovered the acrylic frame components, spindle, power supply, controller box, linear rails, lead screws, and more inside. Various hardware bags containing washers, bolts, nuts, and screws were also present. A hex screwdriver was included, which made assembly simple.
I assembled the entire machine in about two hours by following the comprehensive pictorial instructions. Just some simple component slotting and screwing together. The acrylic frame parts fitted together perfectly.
Installing the linear rails, lead screws, stepper motors, controller, and spindle took a bit more focused effort, but overall assembly was easier than expected. I just had to be careful to locate each part in the correct orientation. Soon I had a fully constructed CNC router on my desktop, ready for action!
Key Features and Specs of the 3018 plus
Now for an overview of some of the key features and capabilities of this entry-level CNC machine:
1. Compact Size: Just 300 x 180 x 45mm working area, perfect for small projects and minimal desktop space
2. 500W Spindle: Powerful enough for cutting and engraving softer materials like wood and plastics
3. 80mm Z-Axis: Lots of clearance for carving deeper designs andcontours
4. Laser Module: Useful 12V, 40mm laser engraver included for marking and etching tasks
5. GRBL Control Board: Compatible with many open-source CNC software programs
6. Lead Screw Driven Axes: Allow precise positioning and movement control
7. 24V Power Supply: Provides consistent ample power for the spindle and steppers
8. Limit Switches: Help prevent over-travel and increase safety
For a starter machine under $400, I was impressed by the capabilities out of the box. Now it was time to connect it and start testing!
Getting the Included Laser Engraver Module Working
Since I was brand new to CNCs, I decided to start off experimenting with the included laser engraver module. This plugin laser head can be mounted in place of the spindle for laser etching, cutting, and engraving on materials like wood, leather, plastic, paper, and more.
I downloaded a compatible software called LaserGRBL and connected my 3018 plus via USB. After some quick setup, I was able to start sending basic designs and text over to be laser etched!
It was amazing to watch the bright laser quickly etch my creation onto a scrap piece of basswood. I experimented with different laser power and speed settings to find the right balance. In just a short time, I was up and running with laser engraving using this handy add-on module.I would say with certainty that the 3018 plus is the best laser engraver of 2023!
Testing Out CNC Routing on Soft Materials
It was now time to test the routing capabilities of the CNC machine. I started by double checking the wiring before removing the laser module and installing the 500W spindle. I was anxious to use the 3018 plus for the first time, but I was also very excited to see it in operation.
I decided to use some 1/4" birch plywood as my first test material. After using the included clamps to secure the workpiece to the bed, I made sure all of the axis motors were oriented correctly.
I used the open-source GrblController program to transfer some simple geometric design files I found online to my 3018 plus via USB. It was time to go! I hit cycle start and the spindle sprang to life, smoothly carving the shapes into the plywood.
Despite my beginner jitteriness, the whole routing process went smoothly and accurately. The included clamps kept the workpiece securely in place. I was really impressed by how cleanly and precisely the Annoytools 3018 plus CNC Router carved for a hobbyist machine.
Pros and Cons of the 3018 Plus for Beginners
Now for a quick rundown of some of the pros and cons I discovered as a novice using this budget CNC machine:
●Compact size perfect for tight workspaces
●Affordable price point compared to larger machines
●Good software compatibility with open-source programs
●Laser engraver included for added functionality
●Routes soft materials like wood cleanly for the price
●Improved 80mm Z-axis for deeper carving
●Small work area limits bigger projects
●Manual bed leveling takes trial and error
●Software learning curve if totally new to CNCs
●Can’t carve harder materials like metals
●Runs loud when spindle is at higher RPMs
Keeping expectations realistic for an entry-level machine, the 3018 plus delivers good value at a reasonable cost. The workflow improvements compared to the standard 3018 model make it a great pick for hobbyists dipping their toes into CNC carving and engraving.
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After my great beginner experience, I highly recommend the Annoytools 3018 plus to other novices looking for their first CNC machine. The addition of the laser engraver makes it even more versatile out of the box. It strikes a nice balance of DIY education and plug-and-play functionality.For those interested in getting started with desktop CNC routing and engraving, I encourage you to check out GearBerry's selection of affordable machines like the Annoytools 3018 Plus.
Their website makes it easy to find quality entry-level CNC routers best suited for beginners. With helpful reviews and comparisons, you can shop confidently knowing you're getting the right machine to unleash your creativity.