CNCCookbook 2022 CNC Router Survey

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This year, we received about 150 responses to our CNC Router Survey. The last survey was in 2020, so it will be interesting to see what has changed over the past two years.

Thank you to everyone who participated! Let’s dive into the numbers and see what we can learn.

Note: If you’re interested in CNC Routers, visit our home page for CNC Routers. It contains references to our best resources.  Also, check out our DIY CNC page.

Hobby vs Pro Users

Since 2020 our Professional users are up from 28% to 33% of respondents.

Market Share: Which CNC Routers are Most Popular?

cnc router market share

Quite a few changes since 2020:

  • Generic Chinese Routers are up from 9.7% to 13.5% while Homebrew machines are down from 17.5% to 10.3%.  I can understand the fall in building your own machine–it’s a lot of work and you never save as much as you’d hoped.  Plus, as we’ll see, customer satisfaction is up pretty broadly with premade machines.  OTOH, I hear no end of problems from folks who own the Generic Chinese machines, and their customer satisfaction is also down pretty significantly.
  • Carbide3D has lost some share over the last 2 years.  As we will see, their Customer Satisfaction is up hugely in the wake of a rich product cycle, but that happened late during the 2 years.  I think had it arrived sooner, their market share might have been up, and it may still be when the market fully digests just how good their new offerings are.
  • Avid is down a touch as well on market share.
  • Multicam, Axiom, Next Wave, and Laguna have all grown their shares.
  • Onefinity is brand new to this survey and has already garnered some pretty significant share.


This year, we had a whopping 67 different CNC Routers reported.  In many cases, only 1 or perhaps 2 people reported having a browser.  The chart above shows the share for “Non-Other”.

If we compare to 2017, certain patterns emerge.

First, the DIY Homebrew from parts category is now #1, although it actually has lower market share–17.5% in 2020 vs 19% in 2017.  It’s holding its own, in other words.  To learn more about DIY CNC Routers, check out our Complete Guide to CNC Router Parts.

The Carbide3D/Shapeoko dynamic duo remains the #1 most popular choice of name brand CNC Routers.  Share is down from 24% in 2017 to 10.7% in 2020.

Generic Chinese Routers (those 3020’s, 6040’s, and similar) continue to hold 3rd place and have actually increased share from 7% to 9.7%.

Now let’s get into some of the big movers in the next tier:

  • Avid, formerly CNCRouterParts, has gone from #10 with 2% share to #4 with 5.8% share.  Big jump up, congrats guys.
  • OpenBuilds was nowhere in evidence in 2017 and now has the #5 spot with 4.9%.  They edged out Inventables, which has fallen to #6 and lost share going from 5% to 4.2%.
  • Among the more pro brands, Laguna has edged out Shopbot and done a remarkable job gaining share.  They had 2% in 2017 and are now at 4.2%.  Shopbot meanwhile when from 4% share to 3.2%.
  • Next Wave Automation is another good growth story.  They placed 2% in the survey in 2017 and now coming in at 2.9% with their Piranha and Shark routers.
  • Multicam and Shopsabre have also fallen off in popularity among the more pro models.

It will be interesting to see the changes the next time we survey.  The market is definitely extremely fragmented, and there are major new players emerging.  At the same time Tormach, for example, has disappeared from this year’s results despite having made a very decent showing in 2020.

CNC Router Features

We asked a number of questions about router features and size.

CNC Router Size

First up is size of the work area.  Here are the trends since 2020:

  • Desktop was 48% in 2017, 43% in 2020, and is now 34%.  Clearly, people are buying or building larger routers.
  • Intermediate was 30% in 2017, 36% in 2020, and is now 34%.  Last survey we said they had moved up from Desktop to Intermediate, and it looks like they’re still moving up.
  • Full Sized was 21% in 2017, 22% in 2020 and is now 31%.  That’s a big step up in power!

CNC Router Spindle Power

The big jump is in the 5-10 HP category, which doubled in size.  In keeping perhaps with the router size share changes, we saw a reduction in the under 2 HP range and gains in every 2HP and up category.

CNC Router Features

As before, we surveyed to see how many had these premium features on their CNC Routers:

  • A great majority have either Dust Collection or an enclosure, and that share didn’t really change.  Personally, I’d be loath to operate a CNC Router with some way of controlling the dust.  They can make a mess in a hurry!
  • Vacuum Tables are a very handy way to hold down the work.  They’re up slightly from 25% in 2017 to 27% in 2020 to 29% in 2022.
  • Tool Changers are a professional productivity feature, but they are hard to come by.  Share is up a bunch from 15% to 24%.  I believe this reflects the increase in Pro users and their more expensive machines.  I wonder when we’ll see a breakthrough in the lower range of the market with someone introducing a toolchanger at a good price on a popular machine?

CNC Router Workholding

This is a new category this year.  It tracks what form of workholding is most popular among CNC Router users.

Workholding is an essential part of CNC work, and virtually every technique has risen in availability except for the hole grid with clamps and T-Slots with clamps.  Ironically they’re still the most popular, but we have see double sided tape really come up in the world.

The clamps are followed by Vacuum Tables or Fixtures, Blue Tape & Superglue, or screwing directly into the spoilboard.  A few listed custom fixtures.  One of the most interesting was a fixture to allow mounting a board vertically for cutting dovetail joints.

Customer Satisfaction: Most Loved CNC Routers

Overall Customer Satisfaction is up compared to what it was in 2017 when it was already high.  In particular, having 60% of folks giving their CNC Router highest marks (It Rocks!) is awesome.  That number was 55% back in 2017, so the machines have only gotten better.

The “Not So Good” rating went from 5% in 2017, down to 2.5% in 2020, but it is back up to 4.35% in 2022.  This is due to the share increase in Generic Chinese machines which have a low customer satisfaction.

Here are the Customer Satisfaction scores for individual machine manufacturers:

These scores correspond as:

  • Not so good:  Anything under 1.0
  • It’s OK:  A score of 1-2
  • It Rocks!:  Is a perfect 2.0.

As we can see, the Generic Chinese machines have fallen into the 0.92 / “Not So Good” category.  I think it is a shame they are so prevalent as I get no end of correspondence from beginners who started there and are having no fun whatsoever.  I think someone with experience can get them to produce results, but a beginner is going to have a hard time.

I mentioned Carbide3D had a strong new product cycle recently and you can sure see from the huge bump in Customer Satisfaction.  Their users are obviously enjoying the machines.  We just got one in the CNCCookbook shop for our new CNC With Jaime video series and we sure do like it.

Next Wave (the Shark series), Laguna, and Avid all show could growth in Customer Satisfaction too.

Future Purchases

I asked a couple of questions in the survey to determine where respondents are in their journey.

This year, 66% of respondents have their first CNC Router, down from almost 70% in 2020.

Here are their future plans:

In terms of Future Purchases, people are more likely to be happy with the machine they have (44%).  If they were to upgrade, 20% want additional machines and 36% just want a better machine.  The desire for upgrades is down from 42% to 36%, so the machines in handed are evidently doing the job better.

How are CNC Routers Being Used?

It’s always interesting to see how CNC machines are used.

For the most part, respondents are cutting Wood, Plastics, and to a lesser extent aluminum on their CNC Routers.

Cutting Aluminum on a CNC Router does take a bit of skill and special techniques, but it’s good to see many respondents are pulling it off.

More to Come

I have one more thing I want to do with this data.  I will be using it to to update our eBook Guide to CNC Routers.  This will be very in-depth information on specific routers as well as more details on some of the data already presented.


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Recently updated on May 29th, 2024 at 10:26 am