Regardless you own a CNC milling machine, lathe, or plasma cutter, you require a motion control system to direct the motions of your CNC machine. And this system is provided by a CNC controller.
A CNC controller connects your computer with the mechanical components of your CNC machine and performs accordingly to print a certain design or a pattern on sheets. So fair enough to say that the CNC controller is the brain of your CNC applications.
It is also interesting to learn that the CNC controller consists of several other peripherals such as stepper motor drivers, power source, power controls, software, and firmware. These components work together to direct the motion of your CNC machine in certain directions, also called axes.
A 3 axes GRBL controller is the most widely CNC controller used by machinists for their CNC machines. It is fairly simple, more adaptable, and compatible with standard OS versions.
Owing to this, we have listed the best 3 axes GRBL controllers you can consider for your CNC machining requirements.
Here are my recommended products picked out through amazon you would be interested in depending on your budget…
7 Best 3 axis CNC Controller Reviews
Here is my list of the best 3 axis CNC Controller in 2021;
1. 3 Axis GRBL 1.1f USB Port Engraving Machine Control
- Supports 36 and 57 stepper motors.
- Comes with a cooling fan.
- 328P master chip.
- Doesn’t support stepper drivers and motors with 2.8-4.2amp range.
ThisÂ 3Axis GRBL offline controller fits several CNC projects with a simple setup. Its technical specifications include a USB cable, an SD card, and a 3 axis control board.
This controller is engineered with inbuilt stepper drivers that can handle up to 2 amps at 24V DC. But if your CNC project includes a motor or driver with a higher range, this won’t fit your needs.
This controller is comparatively more useful as it provides PWM control for lasers. Thanks to its polarity reversing circuit that is attached to it. Thus saving you from the hassle of buying an additional controller to get access to PWM control.
Unlike most 3-axis controllers that come with mounting holes, this one has slots on its board to make installation easier.
If you are looking for high quality, performance, and reliability in a CNC controller, this one is for you.
2. GRBL 1.1 Controller Board for CNC Engraving Machine
- An ideal choice for mini CNC machines.
- Handles heavy-duty cutting applications efficiently.
- Easy to mount.
- E-stop switch.
- The z-axis and y-axis are somehow incorrect.
Whether you’re working on a 1500mm X 1200 mm CNC router or running an 800mm x 800mm laser machine, this CNC controller board is what you need.
It operates smoothly and efficiently, but it also supports several operating system versions, including Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10. This 3 axes controller is perfect to work on any CNC machine that supports a 42/57 stepper motor and a 12V5A laser configuration.
Even though this unit is slightly different from its peers, when running on heavy-duty applications such as cutting aluminum, this o0ne is quite efficient and works great.
The great news is it comes with a preloaded 1.1 GRBL version that supports laser mode.
The stepper drivers’ configuration jumpers were already mounted, and all worked flawlessly.
The downside of this controller is that there is no technical data available for this controller and makes it a hard nut to crack for beginners, but for pros, this one is a great choice that is fairly priced.
3. 3 Axis GRBL Control Board USB Port CNC Router Controller
- 328 Arduino nano master chip
- Supports 42/57 stepper motors.
- Compatible with Windows versions.
- Supports SD card and tf card.
- Doesn’t support Mac.
- Only 2 axes for laser engraving and etching.
Look no further than this 1.1GRBL 3 axes controller if you want to control a laser and a spindle motor with one controller. This one nicely does its job.
Engineered to meet and exceed the expectations of starters and professional machinists, this one makes engraving and etching more precisely and accurate.
When added with a fan, it dissipates heat and keeps the spindle and other components cool.
With a simple setup, relatively simple mounting, this 3 axis can control motion along standard x, y, and z axes on a spindle motor. But one thing needs your attention: for laser etching and cutting applications, this controller only controls motion along 2 axes instead of 3 axes.
But its technical glitches vanish when you witness that this 3 axes device supports any 42 or 56 stepper motor on your CNC machine.
Other technical specifications include its adaptability for Windows versions.
A power button, a reset button, and an offline control button on the board of this controller make usage less complicated.
4. 3 Axis Stepper Motor CNC Router Kit
- Supports 5pcs motor and driver.
- Supports MACH3, EMC2, KCAM4 software.
- Hybrid stepper motor.
- Dual shaft.
- Comes with a learning curve.
Compared with other 3-axes controllers that come with a single shaft, this controller comes with two shafts to drive two applications on each side of your CNC stepper motor.
This is worth considering if you want to build a closed-loop system within your CNC project. And to run this closed-loop system, you need a hybrid stepper motor.
With this, it supports 425oz-in holding torque to rotate the stationary stepper motor of your CNC projects. With a relay port, you can control the CNC spindle.
Every feature of this controller makes it easy for hobbyists and enthusiasts to perform CNC projects in a breeze.
Further to this, this controller works when you connect its parallel port and the computer’s USB port at the same time.
Along with its superior performance and better connectivity, every component of this 3 axes controller kit is a premium built and makes the engraving and cutting easier and more precise.
5. 3 Axis CNC Kit Nema23 Dual Shaft Stepper Motor
- Supports CNC software.
- 3 axes controller kit for starters.
- Worth the price.
- Relatively simpler functioning.
- Doesn’t support Windows 10.
If you’re looking to invest in a professional-grade CNC controller for 3D printing applications, this one comes in handy.
For connecting with a hybrid stepper motor to make engraving easier, it supports CNC software. But if you like working with MACH3 software, this one’s not for you. But for CNC milling and engraving needs, this one is flawless and nearly perfect.
When testing this controller on 2 axes TurboCAD drawing, this controller comes with a fairly intuitive program. On 3D printings and drawings, this one will not disappoint you with its high-quality precision.
Even though the program of this controller never supports Windows 10 version, after calibrating, a pro can install it nicely.
Besides this, the setup is easy. For mini CNC machines, its software is exceptional and powerful. For your mini CNC machine, this one will get the job done with optimal accuracy and precision.
The most striking aspect of this controller is its breakout board, which includes all of the necessary controls, such as spindle control and others, to facilitate end-spot hookups.
6. SainSmart Genmtisu CNC Router Machine Controller Board
- Supports 3 axes engraving and laser module.
- Suitable for 775 spindle motors.
- Compatible with Mach3mill and DrufelCNC.
- Supports the Windows system.
- Not for Linux and iOS systems.
SainSmart Genmtisu controller is smartly designed and can turn a CNC Router 3018-PROver into MX3. This small controller includes flexible functionalities to make connectivity with a stepper motor hassle-free.
The controller is not for Linux and iOS systems since they don’t support GRBL related control software. But on the Windows system, it runs without interruption.
This kit comes with a controller board and one USB port to make connectivity a seamless process. Just by connecting the poles right, the controller with its software allows the user to print on three dimensions.
You cannot only do 3D printing along 3 axes, but this controller allows the machinists to control laser modules on CNC machines.
It uses a NEMA17 stepper motor with 2.1A maximum output frequency.
The convenience of use makes this GRBL controller a great choice for beginners since it requires no calibrating.
7. RATTMMOTOR GRBL Control Board 3 Axis USB Port CNC
- Â Supports Windows XP, 7, and Linux.
- Bluetooth port and limit switch.
- Offline control module.
- Not for Windows 10.
For your 3D engraving and milling needs, this GRBL controller is a perfect fit. It surrounds user-friendly features and diverse functions for making CNC applications a process less tiring.
The software of this controller is compatible with Windows XP and Windows 7, and even on Linux OS, its performance matches second to none.
But if your PC has a Windows 10 version, you better ought not to run this software since it may pose several problems and errors.
The manufacturer values its customers by constantly reminding them that this controller never fits Windows 10.
The controller board includes a spindle motor, offline board port, USB connectivity port, and a power switch to make it convenient to use.
If you’ve not earlier tried connecting a controller with your CNC driver or motor, it involves fewer complications, and mounting it is a cinch.
The board may cause malfunction when going for a firmware or software upgrade since it cannot be calibrated.
Buying guide for 3 Axis CNC Controller Machine
Are you planning to invest in the most suitable 3 axis CNC controller machine? Then look no further as we are here to help you choose the best one with our ultimate buying guide and a complete list of frequently asked questions.
How to choose 3 axis CNC milling machine?
Choosing a 3 axis CNC controller machine is an expensive choice. Whether you work as a professional individual or serve as a beginner, you need specific expertise to work on a 3-axis CNC controller machine.
Cost of 3 axis CNC controller machine?
The 3 axis CNC controller machine is pretty incredible, especially for amateurs who love working on it. Still, the cost of this machine is relatively high, due to which people end up choosing manual machines. The approximate price range for 3axis CNC milling machines is around:
- 3 axis small CNC controller machines are around $35-50k
- 3 axis vertical CNC controller machine is about $50-100k
- 3 axis horizontal CNC controller machine is around $50-100k
Such price range varies on the following factors mentioned below.
Size of 3 axis CNC machine
When buying the CNC machine, you definitely need to understand that there are different sizes available in this machine. This means you should identify the work you plan on working and then get ready to invest in one.
When buying a 3 axis CNC controller machine, you definitely need to check the weight. Choosing lightweight machines does not offer stability, so it’s essential to select the milling machine with heavy weight that ensures complete stability.
When investing in the CNC milling machine, choose the machine with faster speed as it offers better accuracy. It’s highly recommended to select the CNC milling machines which come with an aluminum spindle.
When investing in 3 axis CNC controller machines, people who want a sizeable in-time operation should seek machines that come with colossal tool storage. Such machines allow you to take a break from the job.
Probing is another factor that most people usually consider while buying a 3 axis CNC machine. This feature allows you to check measurements and tools within the process. If you buy the machine for the manufacturing environment, it will enable you to streamline the entire process by completing manual work with a reduced risk of human error.
Movement speed of the machine
When investing in a 3 axis CNC controller machine, choose the one that comes with a faster movement speed allowing you to work with complete efficiency and accuracy.
According to work expertise
For amateurs, it’s usually recommended to use a desktop mini 3 axis CNC milling machine which is highly economical and comes with a small footprint.
For personal studios, it is recommended to choose 3 axis machining centers or 3 axis CNC milling machines that offer stability plus precision to the users.
It would be best to have 3 axis CNC machines with enough facilities and are highly suitable for all your practical needs for a manufacturing plant.
Next in our list of factors that you need to consider while buying a 3 axis CNC controller machine is to look for its power. Check the spindle torque plus the size of servo motors, allowing you how much power it will generate.
Once you are planning on investing in a 3axis CNC milling machine, you should consider its origin. Some machines are made in China, Korea, Taiwan, Germany, and Japan. So make sure to look at the features offered by each one of them, compare them properly, and then finalize your decision.
When buying machines from China, remember that China sells machines with several advantages but remember that the machines are slightly expensive.
Automatic tool changing device
When buying the CNC machine, check whether it comes with a turning center or a machining center, as it’s vital to consider when you are planning to buy one.
Moreover, you should also consider other features in the 3 axis CNC controller machine, including detection system, automatic chip removal system, bar conveyor, oil mist collector, and much more.
Overall, buying the 3 axis CNC controller machine is all about meeting your manufacturing requirements. It is one of the expensive investments, so choose wisely.
Hopefully, you must have attained a good understanding of the GRBL 3 axis controller and its vital components. Modern CNC controllers are intuitive and allow the machinist to do 3D printing and laser modeling without much fuss.
Your CNC machine can’t deliver smooth operation unless you mount a GRBL controller correctly on the machine. So ensure that your controller supports all the settings and configurations of your machine properly. When done properly, the 3 axis controller makes the engraving and 3D printing fun in itself.
People Also Asked
Here are aÂ few questions that people have also asked on different platforms about 3 axis CNC control;
What is the Best 3 axis CNC Controller?
Here is my list of the best 3 axis CNC Controller in 2021;
- 3 Axis GRBL 1.1f USB Port Engraving Machine Control
- GRBL 1.1 Controller Board for CNC Engraving Machine
- 3 Axis GRBL Control Board USB Port CNC Router Controller
- 3 Axis Stepper Motor CNC Router Kit
- 3 Axis CNC Kit Nema23 Dual Shaft Stepper Motor
- SainSmart Genmtisu CNC Router Machine Controller Board
- RATTMMOTOR GRBL Control Board 3 Axis USB Port CNC
What is a 3 axis CNC controller machine?
It is a well-known machine used for performing various techniques to achieve mechanical parts. For several decades, this machine is well known in the manufacturer field and industrial sector and other domains such as arts and design, architecture, and more. This simple process uses a conventional machine allowing the material to be easily worked on three axes like X, Y, or Z.
How does the 3 axis CNC controller machine work?
This machine works by moving on three axes. It proceeds by removing shavings in all three directions corresponding with the flat surface. This technique works well for not that deep parts and works great for deeper parts having narrow cavities.
Why invest in 3 axis CNC controller machines?
It is worth the money because it allows you to complete different manufacturing work while expanding its attachment to complete 4 or 5 axis machining making it more efficient.
What are the functions of 3 axis CNC controller machines?
The 3 axis CNC control machine comes with the following functions:
- It mainly functions for milling
- This 3 axis CNC controller machine also works for precise drilling action.
- This machine allows you to perform rigid tapping functioning.
- It also allows you to cut sharp edges.
Is the 3 axis CNC controller machine similar to the 4 and 5 axis CNC controller machine functioning?
3 axis CNC controller machines can create similar products to 4 or 5 axis CNC controller machines. Still, the 3 axis CNC controller machines cannot deliver the same efficiency, precision, and detailing as the predecessors. The 3 axis CNC controller machine allows you to cut specific features when working, but it does not work the work quality and profitability of 4 and 5 axis CNC controller machines.
In what applications can you use the CNC router machine?
- 2D Carving
- 3D Carving
- Aluminum Fabrication
- Acrylic Fabrication
- Architectural Millwork
- Exhibits and Fixtures
- Cabinet Making
- Door Making
- Sign Making
- Furniture Making
- Mold Making
- Musical Instruments
How to maintain your 3 axis CNC controller machine?
- Clean the entire dust within the electric box. Make sure to check wiring terminals plus screws of all components. Ensure reliable, safe usage of circuits.
- Make sure to keep the debris and dust clean over the transmission system and your platform. Make sure to oil and lubricate its transmission system.
- Ensure to run the CNC controller machine for less than 10 hours each day to avoid exhaustion of the machine.
- Ensure to replace circulating water in the CNC controller machine allowing the water to stay clean, preventing the water outlet from being destroyed or blocked. Plus, ensure the water pump normally works to avoid damage to the components or high temperatures. Never leave water shortage in the spindle.
- If you don’t use the machine regularly, then it’s best to lubricate it periodically and run it to ensure flexibility in the transmission system.
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