You spin me right round baby!

We had a little fun with the new Knob with Crank for NEMA 17 and 23 stepper motors. For the record, you can use one stepper motor to generate enough power to turn another one, but the efficiency of that energy transfer is a little low...

If you want to turn this .gif into a dance party, here's your soundtrack- just hit play:


Upgrading your Shapeoko 2 with NEMA 23 motors

A lot of people ask us about upgrading their Shapeoko 2 to use NEMA 23 motors on the X and Y axes. To make that process a little easier for everyone, we decided to offer up a project that includes all the components necessary, click here for the shopping list.

Important notes: 
  • This is an experimental modification
  • Your results may vary
  • You might do something weird and accidentally burn out your motor driver board
  • If that or something else catastrophic happens this is not our fault, you crazy hacker!

That said, here's the instructions. You crazy hacker you.

1. Head on over to the project page and order the list of parts. There's a convenient "add to cart" button that has everything you need.

1. Remove the motor carriage plates from your shapeoko. This basically means: disassemble your Shapeoko most of the way. You need to remove the motor carriages completely from the makerslide, and the easiest way to do this is to remove the screws that hold the makerslide to the plates and frame.

2. Remove the NEMA 17 motors and all the mounting hardware. You should now be left with something that looks like this:

3. Organize your mounting hardware for the NEMA 23s. Each one will need 4x button head cap screws, 4x spacers, 4x washers, and 4x hex nuts.

4. Mount the screw through the motor's mounting hole, then add a spacer, then pass it through the plate, then a washer and the hex nut and tighten it down. It's easier to get all 4 screws in and put the spacers on, then push them into the motor plate all at once. You might want to leave them a little loose until the later steps.

5. Repeat for the other motor mount plates.

6. Attach the pulleys to each motor shaft. You'll want to line each pulley up with the smooth idlers so the belt can travel in a straight line.

7. Once you've got all the motors mounted, you need to slide the motor carriages back onto the Makerslide and reassemble the machine. Here's where it gets tricky:

The NEMA 23's must be mounted on the bottom of their path of travel for the X-axis makerslide to be able to mount properly. Otherwise, the motor will get in the way and it won't work. it will be very frustrating.


Here's that same error from another angle:

If you move the NEMA 23 to the bottom of the mounting holes, it will look like this:

Once you do that, the Makerslide will drop into place easily and square up. So satisfying!

8. Once you get the mechanicals back together, reattach and thread your belts and tighten and calibrate everything. You're now free to experiment with this radical and unorthodox means of Shapeoko movement, including the highly dangerous process of adjusting the amperage on the Gshield motor controllers to give these 23's a little more oomph. 

Good luck, and you should probably check in on the Shapeoko forums to see how other folks have fared before you attempt this.

-Michael Una


Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation

We just got in some of the new Makerbot Replicator 5th Gens, and they're looking good!

Big improvements over the last model include:

  • Integrated camera so you can monitor/record your prints
  • Bigger, color LCD screen 
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Updated Makerware software
  • Easier leveling
  • Glass build plate can slide out of the machine when your job is done
  • The new Smart Extruder system which allows
    • Magnetic mounting for easy replacement
    • Sensors to pause your job if it runs out of filament

The build volume is 7,522 cubic CM (456 cubic inches), about 11% larger than the Replicator 2. The print resolution is 100 microns/layer, and it's optimized for PLA filament.

We have a limited number of these highly sought machines in stock right now, so you might want to act quickly. After our initial supply is exhausted, we're looking at a ~6 week lead time.


Kate Sullivan of CBS News features Inventables on the "Your Chicago" Segment

Kate Sullivan is co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago News at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. with Rob Johnson. Kate, who has won several awards – including an Emmy Award and the Associated Press First Place Award for Breaking News – joined us at Inventables for a tour, interview, and a little bit of making.

Kate Sullivan

Kate does a recurring segment for CBS called "Your Chicago".  Every Friday at 10pm Kate or her co-host Rob Johnson get out of the studio and explore Chicago.  Last week she came over to Inventables.  Kate was interested in learning more about our new free software called Easel and the Shapeoko 2.  She rolled up her sleeves and became a maker in minutes!  

We even got her into a pair of safety glasses!

Watch the full segment on the CBS News website.


The Inventables team, all in one place!

We had a rare occurrence this week of nearly every single Inventables employee being in the Chicago office at the same time. (Sorry Joanne, we'll have to photoshop you in!)

Here's a group photo we took to document this astronomical event:

Greetings from everyone!


Easel Development Update

Hi, I'm Paul Kaplan, software engineer on the Easel team here at Inventables. The dev team has been thrilled to see the excitement about Easel, and we wanted to let everyone know how we'll be rolling it out to more users. We wanted to elaborate on our motivation for building Easel, and explain the next steps towards expanding access to everyone.

Here at Inventables we’ve been hard at work on Easel, a web-based app for CNC machines like the Shapeoko 2. Our goal with Easel is to make it fast, easy, and fun for anyone to go from having an idea to making a finished product.

Our team recently went down to South by Southwest Interactive, where over 400 people had the opportunity to make custom bottle openers using Easel and the Shapeoko 2. Our CEO Zach officially announced Easel and was even joined onstage by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. We take some pride in the fact that Easel is so easy even the mayor can use it! From a developers point of view, more important than seeing the mayor use our software was seeing young children also able to use Easel throughout the weekend.

IMG_1536 copy.jpg
One of our youngest Easel users yet at SxSW
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan running Easel onstage at SXSW

What is it?
Easel is a browser based app to design and create projects on your Shapeoko. Instead of a complicated workflow with multiple pieces of software, Easel takes care of everything with one app. And it's totally free.

Why are we making Easel?
We believe that the distinction between artist and engineer is a false dichotomy. Here at Inventables, nobody is just one thing: we are programmers, makers, artists, and designers, often all at the same time. Software should give people the tools they need to cross those boundaries. An in-depth knowledge of technical settings should not be a prerequisite to designing a wooden sign, nor should a lack of design training stand in the way of making a cool product.

When can I use it?
Right now we are looking for Chicago area Shapeoko owners in order to learn the most from our beta testers. We hope to be able to release Easel to everybody on the early signup list by early summer.

We are looking for people who: 
live in the Chicago area
own a Shapeoko
are willing to meet with our developers in person to give feedback.

If that describes you, drop us a line at easel@inventables.com and join our beta test. 

As we continue to build out Easel, we’ll be able to roll out access to more and more users over the coming months. You can sign up for the waiting list at easel.com

We are so excited about making it easier than ever to use your Shapeoko. We are working furiously towards opening Easel to everyone on the signup list by the summer. We will try to provide weekly updates from the dev team on what we are working on.

Some of our team at SxSW
P.S. We’re hiring! If you’re a software engineer and want to help us build the future of digital fabrication, take a look at our careers page.


Inventables Announces the Release of Shapeoko 3!

The Shapeoko legacy continues with this newest update to the world's fastest-selling desktop milling machine. Inspired by handheld 3D Printing stylii like the 3Doodler, we've stripped down the Shapeoko to it's barebones function. Mill through wood, plastics, and even aluminum with the new Shapeoko 3!

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