December 1, 2023

manufacturer: Monoprice


price: $189

You might recognize the monoprice name. They sell tons of things, but we’ve covered 3D printers they’ve sold in the past. With this item, they’re hoping to court the hobbyist learning CNC. This is their Benchtop CNC engraver.

If you’re already familiar, this is a pretty standard “3018 pro”. You’ve got a cutting area of roughly 300mm x 180mm x 40mm, and a barebones spindle. You’ll have to assemble it yourself, and it doesn’t have bells and whistles like end stops or touch probes, but it’ll mill some soft materials like wood, foam, and wax. Technically, if you go slow enough, you can do aluminum as well.

Unboxing and assembly

assembly was very easy. They do supply a user manual that shows the process pretty well. The entire assembly process took me less than an hour, and then I was ready for software and testing.

in use

To cut with this, you’ll need control software (they suggest using Candle), and you’ll need to come up with your own Gcode, so some sort of cam software would be good as well. I used Vcarve pro to generate my gcode.

On first run, I was a bit surprised by the noise this little spindle created. It is pretty loud, even when you’re not cutting. However, it might be slightly more capable than you’d expect.

In the carving below, you can see that there are some sections that are a couple mm deep. I did this in one single pass, and the machine didn’t really seem to struggle at all. Admittedly, this little carving did take about 3 hours.

Honestly, I have no idea how fast I could push this machine but I wouldn’t imagine I would push it much faster. If I were carving in foam, of course I could go much speedier.


Ultimately, there isn’t anything about this machine that truly makes it stand out. I’d say that the price is roughly in line with what you’d expect for a 3018 pro, and you get the Monoprice name behind that, which at least offers a bit of support. If I were to add anything to this kit, an e-stop button would be nice. As it is, you have to use the stop in your control software or hit the little power button on the back of the machine. If you want to learn cnc, $189 isn’t a bad way to approach it.