CNC On The Desktop Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, August 26 at noon Pacific for the CNC on the Desktop Hack Chat with Matt Hertel and John Allwine!

Once limited to multi-million dollar machines on the floors of cavernous factories, CNC technology has moved so far downscale in terms of machine size that it’s often easy to lose track of where it pops up. Everything from 3D-printers to laser engravers use computer numeric control to move a tool to some point in three-dimensional space, and do it with unmatched precision and reproducibility.

CNC has gotten so pervasive that chances are pretty good that there’s a CNC machine of some sort pretty close to everyone reading this, with many of those machines being homebrew designs. That’s the backstory of Pocket NC, a company that was literally started in a one-bedroom apartment in 2011 by Matt and Michelle Hertel. After a successful Kickstarter that delivered 100 of their flagship five-axis desktop CNC mills to backers, they geared up for production and now turn out affordable machine tools for the masses. We’ve even seen some very complex parts made on these mills show up in projects we’ve featured.

For this Hack Chat, we’ll be joined by Pocket NC CTO and co-founder Matt Hertel and John Allwine, who recently joined the company as Principal Software Engineer. We’ll discuss not only Pocket NC’s success and future plans, but the desktop CNC landscape in general. Drop by with your questions regarding both the hardware and the software side of CNC, about turning an idea into a business, and where the CNC world and next-generation manufacturing will be heading in the future.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, August 26 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones baffle you as much as us, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

6 thoughts on “CNC On The Desktop Hack Chat

  1. I guess my questions would be:
    1) Are you working towards lowering the upfront cost of the machine to get it into the hands of more people?
    2) Are you working towards building a larger machine to push the customer base the other direction?

    The reason that I ask, is that for me *personally*, my threshold for a tool like the pocketNC is probably about 40% of the current price.

    For my specific department in the company I work for to purchase one, a 5 axis CNC would probably need to have about 100% larger working dimensions for the specific products we make.

    I realize that not everyone is in the same position as myself or where I work, but I am curious as to the possibilities it might bring.

  2. Hello,
    The design for the PocketNC has spawned at least one chinese copy, for sale at around 3000usd. Example :

    Do you have a comment on this ? I can’t afford the PocketNC machines, and haven’t found used ones in France yet. Democratization can still go a long way, the PocketNC end up being much more expensive in france, (9500usd for the v2-10, 14000usd for the v2-50 with the french reseller, ERM).

    1. Hi Piecedusure,

      We are aware that there are a few Chinese copies of the Pocket NC machines some as low as $400 USD. We do make and manufacture the Pocket NC machines here in the US and no part of the assembly is done in China, so these are not equivalent machines. We do place an emphasis on high quality components, extensively calibrate/test each machine to make sure it is within spec, provide an easy-to-use software interface, and offer post sales service/support to all users. While we don’t have any experience with the machines from China it seems based on the price that these are lower cost components and we are unsure what type of controller they offer or post sales service/support.

      In terms of the price in France for the Pocket NC machines – that price does include several accessories and training, so you could ask for a quote for certain items only so unbundled it would be more reasonable.


      1. @Kerry
        Why didn’t your team use a standard 5-Axis Mill design based on a supported Trunnion + rotary table?

        Also, the Autodesk CAM tool-path generator was hardly a recent development project. However, I am sure the pocketnc has a fairly standard job export setup profile, and that certainly makes it easier to get started.

        With a design like pocketnc, your team should be more mindful when “casting” shade on China entrepreneurs. I am sure the unemployed US steelworkers could have helped your team build something at lot more rigid out of aged and precision ground cast-iron… but the storage and shipping cost would likely have been the same as the mill. ;-)

        I have an irrational superstition about linear-bearings and Brass dust… but was still impressed seeing a real attempt to bring bench-top 5-axis milling to hobbyists.
        Nice project =)

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