Say Hello to X-Carve

Today Inventables launched X-Carve, our next generation 3D Carving machine. It’s the start of a new chapter for us and we’re very excited.

Our mission at Inventables is to bring out the maker in all of us. We envision a world where the the digital fabrication revolution empowers a new generation of makers to be able to dream, design, and fabricate their ideas into products. We believe low cost digital manufacturing tools are making it easier for people to prototype and do short production runs. We believe by focusing on making the experience easier, we’re helping to ignite this change in not only what products can be made but, more importantly, who can make them.

In 2012, we collaborated with inventor Bart Dring to commercialize the MakerSlide railing system. Later that year, MakerSlide became the foundation for a fully open source (open hardware) 3-axis 3D carving machine kit that anyone could build. The kit cost about $300 for the mechanicals and $600 for the fully functioning machine.  Most people that bought the machine were hobbyists and enthusiasts. The response was tremendous.

Over the last few years, as the technology improved, we’ve started to observe a transition by our customers. What was once predominantly a group of hobbyists building a machine for the love of the game has transitioned to a group that also includes folks making and selling products for fun and profit.  We are inspired by the amazing ways customers have brought ideas out of their heads and into the world. They make everything from circuit boards to skateboards.

In March of 2014, we launched Easel.  It was a step towards taking complexity out of the process. We wanted to simplify the software tool chain so you can “just click carve”. It was part of a realization that the world needed more than a new machine- it needed an incredibly easy system (software, hardware, and materials).

We needed a brand to represent our vision and serve the trajectory our customers were on. We needed a brand to go beyond servicing a hobby and one that could deliver on production work in the shop.  

Enter X-Carve. The letter X in the name is intended as a variable that is defined by the customer. We hear from customers that their needs are unique and they don’t want extra parts lying around. We hear from customers that they want an upgrade path. We hear from customers they want a machine that can grow with their needs.

X-Carve is capable of creating precision parts and models from plastic, wood and metal. The machine is the latest addition to Inventables’ 3D Carving ecosystem, which also includes our Easel design and machine control software, a project-sharing website, a selection of hundreds of carvable materials, and Carvey, an enclosed machine suitable for an office or home setting.

X-Carve was created for a workshop setting. It has about half the parts of other kits on the market, and is both customizable and expandable. It is also fully compatible with the previous 3D Carving kit offered by Inventables, the Shapeoko 2. We’re also selling an upgrade kit because we don’t want to leave anyone behind. We put together an introductory video walking through all the details.

The Inventables website guides users through customizing the exact machine they want. Parts will also be available a la carte. We heard over and over again that people want to build machines in different sizes, with different electronics, and motors to fit their specific needs. In response, we built a tool that will allow them to customize a machine to do exactly what they want without having to buy unnecessary parts.

Please join us in this next chapter at Inventables by making your mark on the world.

Customer Project Spotlight: Matthew White

We were tweeted this photo the other day from Indiana hackerspace The MakerHive.

This is the kind of thing that gets the Inventables team really excited. It's a custom aluminum mount for the Rostock Max 3D printer made by our neighbors to the South at SeeMeCNC on their Shapeoko 2!

We did some sleuthing and got in touch with the person who made these, a customer of ours named Matthew White.

He got back to us with some pretty awesome photos of his setup and details about their operation:

TB6600 Stepper Driver Shield

Can your grbl based CNC setup control all this equipment (at the same time!)?

  • (4) Stepper motors, each on its own driver with up to 4.5amps of current and 40V. The Y axis uses (2) synchronized stepper motors 
  • X,Y & Z homing switches on optically isolated circuits.
  • Z Touch disk on an optically isolated circuit.
  • 3 Spindles
    • DC Quiet Cut Spindle with speed control. 
    • AC Trim router with on/off control
    • 3 phase VFD controlled spindle with 0-10V speed control.
  • Vacuum controlled by gcodes M7,M8,M9
  • Feed control buttons (Hold & Resume)

Introducing the TB6600 Shield

This shield routes all of the signals on the Arduino UNO to the right places on the TB6600 Stepper Driver PCB.  It also adds an on board DC spindle control and feed control buttons.  There are 3 and 4 axis versions of the TB6600 board.  On the 4 axis version, the extra axis is slaved to the Y axis for Shapeoko 2 type machines.  The only option you need to configure with grbl is whether or not you are using a variable speed spindle.  For a fixed speed router like an AC trim router, you use one of the relays.  With a variable speed router you can use both relays for accessories.

Power Supply Interface Follow Up

Thanks for all the feedback on the DC Power Supply Interface PCB we posted last week!  

We got enough signups on the product page to justify moving forward.  We digested all the suggestions we received and finalized a design. 

Here is a quick rendering of what it will look like. 

We've added and changed a couple of features, keep reading to follow the progress:

Making stuff and rocking out with White Mystery!

We unexpectedly got to hang out with local rockers White Mystery at the Chicago Made booth at SxSW last year. They were curious about our machines and we really enjoyed their "acoustic" set in the middle of the trade show floor. Once we were all back in Chicago, they came by our workshop a few times to prototype some ideas.

A Better Way to Wire Your DC Power Supply?

The Problem

The basic enclosed power supply is the workhorse of the DIY CNC world. It is used in most small scale 3D printers and CNC routers. Unfortunately they are not the easiest items to wire cleanly. They are also difficult to add a power switch to. It gets even uglier when you add things like power controls for DC Spindles.

But I think we might have a solution...

Our favorite projects of 2014

Now that's we've had a chance to recover from the holidays, the Inventables team put together a quick roundup of our favorite projects of 2014. What was your favorite project? Share it in the comments and we'll compile a list of our customer's favorites for next week.

Engagement ring box by Joe Ternus. This project went viral and for good reason- it's beautiful, it's a heartwarming story, and it was all made using one of our desktop 3D carving kits. Photos of the design and building process here.

Check out 7 other awesome projects from 2014 below...

A visit to Lane Tech High School's Innovation & Creation Lab

A little while back we helped high school Computer Science teach Jeff Solin spec out a maker lab for his school. Many months and lots of sweat later, the Innovation and Creation Lab is up and running and Jeff's students are making a lot of awesome projects.

Here's a vent cover one of the students designed with Jeff's face on it.

The first part of this year's curriculum focused on the laser cutters, with students starting out making cubic boxes and moving to freeform projects from there:

DIY Gift box roundup!

We all would love to make every holiday gift from scratch, especially for family and loved ones. But there isn't always time, you may not have the right tools or materials or skills, and then all of a sudden there's two weeks left and what to do?

If you have a 3D Carving machine on hand, there's an easy way to put a personal touch on a thoughtful gift: make a wooden gift box!

Turns out it's pretty easy to do and there's a couple of different ways to go about it. Here are 3 strategies, with examples: