This CNC machine will let Makers carve the way they want.
For a couple of years, Inventables has been the CNC device of choice for Makers with their open-source, easily-modded Shapeoko 2. And while multi-axis, computerized milling machines are nothing new, the Chicago-based company continues to cater to the burgeoning DIY community with the launch of a new device. Dubbed X-Carve, the machine not only packs several upgrades from its older siblings but is entirely scalable as well.
You may recall the Shapeoko family from way back in 2011 when the concept CNC machine kit first made its Kickstarter debut. There, it well exceeded its initial goal having garnered over $11,000. This design would go on to inspire the market-ready Shapeoko 2 in 2012.
With X-Carve, Inventables brings a number of innovative elements to the CNC kit concept. Essentially, it features all the upgrades you wished the Shapeoko had, including stronger corner-mounting for increased rigidity, NEMA 23 motors and self-tapping screws. Beyond that, the latest machine uses 50% fewer parts and requires just half the build time.
“With a relentless focus on reducing the part count and improving rigidity, we designed single-piece extrusions for X‑Carve’s gantry and spindle mount. New Y-axis plates bring the spindle closer to the center, decreasing flex,” the team writes.
The kit comes in two size options — standard and large with 500mm and 1000mm rails, respectively. The workable space is about 12” x 12″x 2.7″ for the standard and 31″ x 31” x 2.7″ for the large. Inventables says the latter is even big enough to work on a full-sized longboard. What’s more, X-Carve can even be configured to any size, as long as it falls within the standard and large spectrum.
The X-Carve is also capable of creating precision parts from a wide range of materials including plastic, wood, metal, foam, cardboard and wax. Created for a workshop (and the occasional Makerspace) setting, the unit is both customizable and expandable. In other words, if a Maker already has one of Inventables previous machines, they can upgrade and scale their existing device by simply adding a few X-Carve components.
On the electronics side, the X-Carve boasts a 24VDC spindle with a single source power supply for its motor and spindle. This gives users spindle control through Gcode. The gadget is designed to be controlled using an Arduino (ATmega328) and gShield (an Arduino shield with three stepper motor drivers), but more advanced users can also leave off the controller and try their own. The open-source machine will run the Easel software along with other CAM options as well.
Interested? Good news, X-Carve will begin shipping April 30, 2015 and will begin at $799 with fully-souped up models upwards of $2,000. Like its predecessor, it comes in kit form. An upgrade kit for the Shapeoko 2 will also be available for just $200. Until then, you can head over to its official page to learn more.