Carvey Exhibit at ALA

Come visit us this weekend at the American Library Association conference in Chicago! We'll have a Carvey exhibit at The Playground, ALA's interactive technology showcase.

Libraries like the San Diego Public Library and the Harold Washington Memorial Library have successfully integrated Carvey into their maker labs. More and more libraries across the country are building similar creative spaces, providing their communities with a way to learn through making.

To help support the development of more maker labs, we're giving away a free Carvey to a library on Monday, June 26th. You can sign up at the ALA conference this weekend, or enter to win here:

Carvey Giveaway Entry Form

If you'll be at the conference and would like to enter there (or just come carve a fidget spinner with us!), please visit us:

McCormick Place, Chicago
ALA Conference & Exhibition
The Playground, booth 2655
Friday, June 23: 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Saturday, June 24: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday, June 25: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Happy carving!

X-Carve Dust Control System

Today I’m proud to announce a new product brought to market with help from our community.  It’s the X-Carve Dust Control System, a full dust collection solution for our X-Carve 3D carving machine.

The X-Carve Dust Control System is designed to collect dust as the machine carves your work piece.  It features a dust shoe that attaches to the spindle mount. A grounded hose connects to the dust shoe and routes the work dust into your vacuum or dust collector.


In March 2016 we backed a Kickstarter for the Suckit. At the time, we had been working on dust collection ideas for several years, all featuring at least two design elements: independent Z and a magnetic attachment. We were inspired by the reaction to the Suckit, and actively recommended it to our customers.  Looking for a way to include dust collection as an option from Inventables, we reached out to Mark at Suckit to learn more.  

Mark sent us an early prototype unit and we put it through some testing in our lab.  We challenged ourselves to build upon Suckit’s great start by working through some potential performance and manufacturing improvements.  We’ve since teamed up with the Suckit crew on this next iteration, the Dust Control System. In addition to collaborating with Mark on its development, we’re paying him a royalty as a thank you for advancing the X-Carve in the community.

We’re excited about the product’s features. First, it assembles onto the X-Carve with no rework or disassembly.  This means you can get started right away.  If you need to remove it for any reason, you can detach it in seconds without any tools.  We’ve made it quite easy to adjust, and included a scale on the side for gauging its height from your work piece.

In addition to the “shoe,” the part that sits below the spindle, it includes a grounded hose and routing system for clean hose management.  Grounding is important because it dissipates static electricity that, in certain situations, can ignite combustible materials moving in or out of vacuums.  A grounded system dramatically reduces if not eliminates this risk.  The hose Inventables provides is grounded and long enough that you don’t need an additional hose, and its universal fitting is compatible with most shop vacuums.  Ideally you should have a grounded vacuum, and we have a static strap to ensure the hose finds a good ground.

Finally, the X-Carve Dust Control System includes an alternate Z-probe connector mounting point, because the existing one will be covered as the result of installation.

At Inventables we’re dedicated to building a community of encouragement. The community has and will continue to produce amazing ideas, many that are well beyond what we do inside our own walls.  We want to thank Mark and his team for helping bring this into the X-Carve world.

Free Shipping on Non-Machine Orders

Today we’re introducing free shipping on non-machine orders of $100 or more. It’s a bit of an experiment, one we plan to learn a lot from on our way to designing a future Inventables membership program.

It’s also a big part of continuing to build Inventables as a community of encouragement, something that’s really important to us. From our recent Easel Live classes to this week’s Fidget Spinner Design Challenge launch, we’re hoping to inspire you to design, carve and share amazing ideas with each other. As we do, we also want to get rid of things that might stand in the way of that. Like shipping.

As we launch this free shipping program, here’s what’s important to know…
It’s only for our non-machine items. That means everything excluding X-Carve, Carvey, X-Controller, vacuums, and machine upgrade kits. All bits and materials are eligible.

With big apologies to our friends in Hawaii, Alaska, and international points near and far, it only applies to deliveries to the continental US.

At this point, we don’t know when this offer will end. We’re learning as we go, and you’ll be the first to know as things change.

For more information, head on over to this FAQ we created and will continue to update. If you have a question and don’t see the answer there, send it to help@inventables.com, and we’ll get right back to you.

As for our future membership program, we’re really hoping to hear any and all of your ideas in the below comments section. What are some of the benefits you’d like to see us include?

New Easel Features: Search, snapshots and more!

February has been a big month for Easel improvements! There are three big features I’d like to share. All three should make Easel an easier and more powerful aid to making.

Project snapshots

It has always been difficult to find an old project. Even if you are careful and organized with names, it is not always easy to remember what project you are looking for. Now Easel will take a snapshot of what your project looks like and display it in the project drawer. You can now easily scan through your projects to find the one you are looking for visually. Snapshots are created whenever your project is saved, so the picture will always be in sync with your project.

Project search

In addition to using pictures to find the right project, we’ve also introduced an instant search to help you find a specific project by name. Simply type a bit of the project name and the list will automatically update.

Easel Live Featured Apps

Apps in Easel are a combination of ideas about what to make and tools for how to make. We have made some major improvements to the way apps are organized and displayed. There are now categories, featured apps created by the Easel team, larger photos, and new animations to let you see how the apps work just by hovering your mouse over the image. Featured apps also all have links to Easel Live events explaining in-depth how to use them to create awesome projects.

What's next? Find out early on the forum.

These changes and many others are posted to the Inventables Community Forum where we give first looks at new features, announce early-access features and gather feedback. It is also a great place to find help and connect with other carvers. Check it out!

2016 Inventables Holiday Challenge

The holidays are a great time to get your kids designing and carving with you. From gifts with a personal touch to decorations for the home or classroom, the possibilities are endless.

As an extra reason to get those creative juices flowing, we're having a design challenge for the month of November! We're looking for the best holiday projects based on 1) creative design, 2) original use of a Carvey for X-Carve, and 3) best use of Inventables features or materials (think your favorite underrated material or app in Easel).

We are also debuting our first holiday materials bundle featuring festive materials for anything from Christmas trees to snowmen to menorahs, and the bits to cut them. Check it out here.

How to enter
Post a photo of your process and the finished product on Instagram with #InventablesChallenge. Projects will be judged every week by the Inventables team, and weekly winners will get a $50 gift card to the Inventables store and an entry for the final prize - a $250 gift card for the finalist with the most Instagram likes. Remember - your profile must be public for us to be able to see your design!

Happy carving! We're so excited to see your family's designs. 

Toolpath Improvements for Better, Faster Carves

Recently, our hard-working Developers implemented some big changes to the way Easel generates toolpaths for your projects. These improvements are the result of working with some early testers and forum users, and we are very appreciative of their help!

Most of these changes took place behind the scenes, so you probably haven’t noticed anything different while using Easel. Still, these toolpath modifications make carving faster and more efficient, and we want you to know about them.

There are two big enhancements to toolpaths:

Better Safety Height Movement
Safety height is the height your spindle must raise so that it does not damage your material when moving between sections of your project. Previously, the default safety height was above your z-axis home location (aka, the top of your material). If you were carving through a thick piece of material, the spindle would raise itself completely above the surface of your material when cutting out tabs or moving to a different part of the job.

Now, your spindle will only raise the bit as much as necessary to clear parts of the project that are already carved. Easel accounts for what has been carved already, so it does not always need to raise to the full height of your material when moving from point A to B.

What does this mean for you? The most common scenario where you’ll see an improvement is carving tabs on your project. Rather than raise the bit all the way to the top of your material and back down again to carve out tabs, the z-axis only raises high enough to clear the tab before lowering back down to carve. This can reduce your overall carving time by as much as 30%!

Continuous Detail Pass for Two-Stage Carving
Two-stage carves allow you to use two different sized bits for your project. This is incredibly helpful if you want to remove a large amount of material with a larger bit (called the roughing pass) and then use a smaller bit for fine, intricate parts of the design (called the detail pass).

Psst: If you’ve struggled with selecting the right bit for a project, you might want to enable two-stage carves in Easel.

When we first released the two-stage cut feature in Easel, we had a lot of problems with “hunt and peck” toolpaths. In an effort to have as much of the project carved with the roughing pass as possible, many parts of the detail toolpath were broken into smaller segments. This resulted in a lot of raising and lowering of the z-axis in an attempt to hit all these small sections, instead of a continuous pass with the detail bit.

We’ve modified the way toolpaths are generated for two-stage cuts so the detail cut can make a continuous carve around the perimeter of all parts of your project. As mentioned above, minimizing the number of times the bit raises and lowers during the course of a carve will save you a significant amount of time. Perhaps more importantly, the edges of your projects will be cleaner and smoother, which means less finishing time after carving.

Here’s a good example showing how toolpaths have changed:

Notice how there are fewer neon green lines in the image on the right. This means the detail bit will not raise and lower as many times as it did in the image on the left. Reducing the number of times the bits raises and lowers is one of the best ways to save on overall carving time.  

We’re always looking for feedback and improvement requests for Easel, and love hearing what customers think about using the app. Do you have something you’d like to see added to Easel? Please let our Developers know by sharing it on the forum! They check the forum often to learn more about what customers want to do with their machine and how we can help on your carving journey.

Happy carving!

5 Questions with Blaine Bryson on Creating a Makerspace in Your Class

"The concept of a Makerspace is amazing and wonderful, but planning and implementing can be daunting. There are implications that can make the entire process overwhelming and exhausting, but as an educator it is important to remember what your desired outcome is. For me the desired outcome was to give students a unique and worthwhile learning experience."
--Blaine Bryson is a maker teacher at Avon Middle School in Avon Ohio

Q: What's your own process like for planning your Makerspace/Lab for the upcoming school year?

The idea of a Makerspace for our school is new and has developed out of a district wide goal to expand electives for our students. When I first began to plan the class, I pitched it to my administration as a technology course that involved creating a variety of optional learning experiences. From the initial idea of a technology course based on student choice, the course began to take shape based on a few questions that needed answered.

The first question that came up was “what do my students actually want to learn?” Student choice is a major aspect of my educational philosophy and giving students a choice is empowering and engaging for students of all ages. To judge or gauge what students really want to learn, I ask them what career they are interested in pursuing and in general … what sounds cool!

Once the decision of what learning experiences would occur in the Makerspace Lab, the next question that came up was “what materials and devices will be needed for the class?” This is the question that I feel many educators get too hung up on too early when it comes to planning and implementing a Makerspace. I can’t stress enough, think about the learning goals of your students as a whole and go from there.

Finally, and possibly most important for most educators working on developing a Makerspace of any type is “How do we fund this project?” When it comes to funding a new project, and one that is a fairly “new” concept to education, it becomes difficult selling the project to administration and getting funds allocated from the school district. My suggestion to any educator that wants to implement a Makerspace is to reach out to your local donors which could include endowment funds, charity groups and businesses to solicit for donations and sponsorships to get the project started but also funded for the future.

Q: What are some of the key things you're looking to build upon from last year?

The course that I will be teaching this year will look and function much different than the course I taught last year. Due to some variables that were not in my control (student population and space), I have a great idea of what works and does not work with projects and learning experiences related to a Makerspace. An aspect of my class from last year that I felt worked out really well was giving students choice in learning experiences and projects.

With success, there were some aspects of my class from last year that needed to be changed for this year. First off was changing the location of my class from a shared computer lab to a science lab. The evolution of the space from last year to this has been difficult, but I know it will be rewarding as having a singular space with a variety of learning areas will prove valuable. This year’s space includes an area for small group and independent projects, small group instruction, video production, brainstorming, robotics, and 3D Carving all in a room that is about 35 by 25 feet. The space this year was big for me and I made a major push to get the location I needed so that the learning can be redefined and the experience students deserve.

Q: Which projects are you most excited about for the upcoming year?

The course I teach is mostly project based. I think the most exciting projects for me in regards to my students will involve our use of photography and video production with Carvey. My students like photography and video production and I know that they will be enthralled with what we can do with the Carvey. They will love the mix of the two, but the specific project that I’m really excited to get started with is a play off of the Mosaic Tile Project created by Jeff Solin that incorporates Cleveland’s local history, photography/video production, and the Carvey. The short explanation of the project is that students are going to document through photo and video their research of something related to Cleveland’s history and their experiences using Carvey to create their own Mosaic Tile.

As someone in the final stages of planning and the beginning of implementing a full fledge Makerspace Lab, a few things I would stress to any educator considering taking the plunge would be to keep in mind what you want your students to learn and the direction their learning will take. The other advice I want to extend is to think about the space as a whole and what you want it to look like in relation to your students, not necessarily what devices and materials are in the space.