Introduced last year as an improvement on the very popular Shapeoko CNC router, the X-Carve by Inventables has grown to be a very well-respected machine in the community. It’s even better if you throw a DeWalt spindle on there, allowing you to cut almost everything that’s not steel. With a recent upgrade to the X-Carve, it’s even more capable, featuring the best mods and suggestions from the community that has grown up around this machine.
The newest iteration of the X-Carve features higher power drivers, better rigidity, and a heat sink for the spindle. That last item is an interesting bit of kit – routing takes time, and a 1¼HP motor will turn electricity into heat very effectively.
In addition to the 500mm square and 1000mmm square routers previously available, there’s a new, 750mm square machine available. All machines feature a new electronics box for the X-Carve, the X-Controller. This ‘brain box’ is a combined power supply, stepper driver, and motion controller built into a single box. The stepper drivers are able to supply 4A to a motor, is capable of 1/16 microstepping, and has connections for limit switches, spindle control speed, a Z probe, and outputs for vacuums or coolant systems. The underlying controller is based on grbl, making this brain box a very solid foundation for any 3-axis CNC build. The ‘brain box’ format seems to be the way the hobbyist CNC market is going, considering the whispers and rumors concerning Lulzbot selling their Taz6 brainbox independently from a 3D printer.
The new X-Carve is available now, with a fully-loaded 1000mm wide machine coming in at about $1400. That’s comparable to many other machines with the same volume, unlike the Chinese 3040 CNC machines, you don’t need to find an old laptop with a parallel port.
When it comes to small CNC carving machines for hackerspaces and extremely well-equipped garages, the Shapeoko, or something like it, has been the default machine. It’s dead simple – a Dremel attached to linear rails – and is useful for everything from milling PCBs to routing complex woodworking project to plotting designs with a pen. Now, [Bart Dring], the guy behind the Buildlog.net lasers and Inventables have teamed up to create the next generation of carving machines. It’s called the X-Carve, and while it’s fully compatible with the Shapeoko 2, it adds a few improvements that make for a much better machine.
The X-Carve does away with the Dremel-based spindle and replaces it with something that can produce torque. There’s a 24VDC spindle in the stock arrangement that will give you speed control through Gcode. There is, of course, adapters to fit the Dewalt and Bosch routers most commonly used in these types of machines.
As far as the gantry goes, the X and Y axes are makerslide; no change there. The Z axis leadscrew has an optional upgrade to Acme threaded rod, an improvement over the M8 threaded rod found in just about every other DIY machine kit. The entire machine is basically all the upgrades a Shapeoko should have, with stronger corners, NEMA 23 motors, and increased rigidity.
There are a few versions of the X-Carve, ranging from an upgrade kit to the Shapeoko 2 to a fully loaded kit with a square meter of machine space. The big, high-end kit ships for around $1250, but a smaller kit with 500mm rails, NEMA 17s, and threaded rod lead screw is available for around $800.
[Bart] and [Zach], the founder of Inventables sat down and shot a video going over all the features of the X-Carve. You can check that out below.
Continue reading “X-Carve, The Logical Upgrade To A Shapeoko”
Over the past few years, [Bart Dring] has contributed immensely to the homebrew CNC machine scene, with the creation of MakerSlide linear rail, the buildlog.net open source laser cutters and CNC machines, and a host of other builds that have brought the power of digital fabrication to garages and workshops the world over. After a year of work, he, along with Inventables, is releasing Carvey, the CNC machine for everyone else.
Carvey is heavily inspired by Inventables other CNC machine, the Shapeoko, but built to be the Makerbot to the Shapeoko’s RepRap, without all the baggage that goes along with that analogy, of course. The machine has a 300W spindle capable of cutting wood, plastic, foam, carbon fiber, and linoleum, as well as aluminum and brass. There are a few interesting features like a color-coded bit system, and this time the machine has an enclosure for containing MDF dust.
CAD programs might be a little too foreboding for someone just getting into the world of CNC, so Inventables has created their own design program called Easel. It’s a web app that allows you to design all your parts for the Carvey and send them all to the machine without worrying about speeds, feeds and all the other intimidating machinist terminology. You can, of course, output GCode from Easel, so those of us with slightly more complex toolchains can still use the Carvey.
Inventables is Kickstarting their production, with the non-early bird Carveys going for $2400. That’s a bit cheaper than some extremely similar machines we’ve seen on Kickstarter before.
3D printers such as the RepRap and Makerbot turn spools of plastic filament into just about any object imaginable. There’s a problem though: this filament costs about $40 a kilogram, and raw plastic pellets cost about 1/10th of that. Obviously, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The folks at Inventables are throwing $40,000 at the problem in a contest to build a machine that takes plastic pellets and turns it into usable plastic filament.
The object is simple: build a device that takes ABS or PLA pellets and turns them into a 1.75mm filament. The machine has to cost less than $250, be able to add colorant to the plastic, and be usable in a 3D printer. The winner gets $40,000, a laser cutter, a 3D printer, and a CNC milling machine courtesy of Inventables. Sign up on the official contest website and don’t be shy about sending your progress into the Hackaday tip line
If you’d like to get started, here’s a great page that goes over the basics of plastic extrusion, and a few attempts (1, 2) from [Adrian Bowyer] and [Forrest Higgs] that show exactly how hard this is. There’s also the Filabot that had a successful Kickstarter, but there’s apparently been no (or very limited) progress in the four months since the Kickstarter. I’ve even given this idea a go, but am currently stuck at manufacturing a proper auger. To put this in perspective, this is the moonshot of the current crop of 3D printers; a simple device to lower the barrier of entry to 3D printing is desperately needed, and we’ve got to give props to the Inventables crew for putting this contest together.