There have been numerous points over the past few years where I have pulled up the CNC Router Parts website and started configuring a router that I would like to build. Both the modular build system and rock-solid rack and pinion movement really appealed to me. When they contacted me about being included in this year’s round of testing, I finally got to try one of my configurations for the PRO4824, and I could not be happier.
First things first, we need to talk about the CNC Router Parts system for selling machines. Everything is modular and expandable. The base price is just for a frame, not for a working machine. From that frame, you can decide on your machine’s motor, electronics packs, spindles, mounting options, height, sensors, and anything else you might want or need. All of these things quickly increase the price of course, but if you look at the cost of the PRO4824’s competitors, you will notice that you are still saving a lot of money.
This modular system does mean that there is a lot of work for both assembly and setup, so do not buy this machine expecting to be cutting within the same day. We had one of the CNC Router Parts team members come out and build ours to save time, and it still took a few days to finish completing the machine.
The 4′ x 2′ cutting space is plenty large enough to get started with cutting furniture and many other useful objects, but it comes at the cost of needing to cut down plywood sheets in order to make them work. The more industrious will find that they can pass sheets of ply through the machine if they need to cut larger pieces at one time, but I would not recommend that for beginners. The key to the PRO4824 is that if and when you decide you want to cut full sheets of plywood, you will have to purchase one of the upgrade kits (4′ x 4′ or the coveted 4′ x 8′) to expand the length of your machine.
Design Planning and Control
For our testing, I cut our large test medallion and an AtFab chair. The process was smooth and painless. While many CAM solutions will work for CNC Router Parts machines, the recommend software for the PRO4824 is VCarve Pro from Vectric. This recommendation is a good one. VCarve Pro makes laying out your designs and planning the machining operations a fairly easy process, especially compared to some of the other systems out there. It offers plenty of customization options without bogging anything down with a confusing interface.
CNC Router Parts turns to Mach3, an industry standard for CNC machining, for controlling their machines. This is the one place where I think there is some room for improvement. While Mach3 is extremely powerful, and learning it will make the process of using other machines easier, it is not the most intuitive piece of software. Keeping Mach3 for veterans and offering a second, more streamlined solution would make the machine more accessible for all users.
A large flat bed CNC router is a tool that opens up new levels of projects for makers. The PRO4824 is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to get into using a larger router, but does not have the space for a full 4′ x 8′ machine just yet. Upgrades for the machine are readily available for those who are.
Manufacturer: CNC Router Parts
Base Price: $3,500
Price as Tested: $7,637
Accessories Included at Base Price: None, the base price is for a frame only — no electronics
Additional Accessories Provided for Testing: Electronics, spindle, leg kit, Mach3 software, proximity sensors, Z touch plate
Build Volume: 1,219×609×203mm
Materials Handled: Wood, plastics, foam, light metals
Work Untethered? No
Onboard Controls? E-stop and power switches only
Design Software: Compatible with many but works best with VCarve Pro from Vectric
Cutting Software: Mach3
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
While you can build this kit from just the base frame and customize it yourself, buying the additional parts from CNC Router Parts really rounds this machine out. It is a very capable workhorse if you allow it to be.
Why to Buy
The PRO4824 offers rock solid performance for anyone looking at a production grade system. It is extremely modular so those who may not have the budget or space for a full 8’ long machine, but might have both in the future, can invest care-free.