Inventables Maker Spotlight: Bob Clagett

If you don't already know Bob Clagett, he's a great guy and sincere lead-by-example teacher in the Maker Community community. Bob wants to not only teach people how to make things, but also inspire them to follow their own curiosity. 

Bob Clagett is well-known for his how-to website and YouTube channel, 'I Like to Make Stuff'. On his sites, Bob posts step-by-step instructions on a wide variety of projects and topics meant for all skill levels.  

Bob stopped by our office for a tour a little while back:

And he's been working on some projects using his X-Carve!

Inventables 50 States Program - Round 2

We started with a dream.  Wow America responded! We got 534 schools that applied to the Inventables 50 States Program.  It shows the interest in 3D carving is exploding.

We got applications from every state in the Union!  We even got a few from Europe which was kinda funny.  The states people keep asking about are Alaska, Hawaii, and Rhode Island.  They all had great submissions!

As of today Round 2 of the selection process has officially begun. Inventables will be donating 3D carving machines to K-12, High Schools, Community Colleges and Universities in all 50 states.

We were blown away at how many people applied.  Your energy and effort on this project has been tremendous.  It really shows what we can do as a nation with a little bit of focused effort. We have decided to keep the momentum going and every school will advance to round 2.

Please submit your lesson plan explaining how you will incorporate the 3D carver into your curriculum. Please include a section on the outcomes you expect from implementing this curriculum. Use Easel, our free 3D carving software (www.easel.com) to draft at least 1 example project. In the file menu click the "share" option and paste the links to your projects in this form. For this round, all applicants must submit a lesson plan explaining how you will incorporate the 3D carver into your curriculum. Please include a section on the outcomes you expect from implementing this curriculum. Use Easel, our free 3D carving software (www.easel.com) to draft at least 1 example project. In the file menu click the "share" option to get a shareable link to your projects.

Please submit your lesson plan, expected outcomes and Easel projects here.

Official Contest Rules

Carvey + Easel Update

We are getting really close to shipping Carvey to all our Kickstarter backers. Our vendors are sending the remaining parts via air shipments, many of which are already en route. More details to come, along with the date we will start shipping (we need all the parts to arrive safely and pass inspection first).

We’ve given you a bunch of updates on the Carvey hardware lately. Meanwhile, our software engineering team has been working on Easel, the free software that controls Carvey. The tight integration between Easel and Carvey is what really makes the experience great.

Today, I’m going to give a quick update on their work and show a project that utilizes the new software features.

Easel App Store
Our engineering team spent a good portion of the summer building our own engine for Easel. They also built an API so third-party developers can make apps, and we rolled out a beta version of the Easel App Store. This has already yielded really helpful add-ons that can be used within Easel, like a box maker and an inlay generator. We’re excited to see how this will evolve. It takes Easel from a software tool to a software platform.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.57.58 PM.png

I decided to demonstrate how the Easel App Store works by using the Inlay Generator to make a baby name sign for a friend. I typed the name “Hudson” in Easel, selected the text, then opened the Inlay Generator in the App Store. It prompted me to set my bit size, and select a tolerance.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.00.54 PM.png

I carved the bottom layer of the sign from a ¾” piece of hardwood.
After I vacuumed this piece, I was ready to carve out the letters for the top layer of the sign from ½” thick hardwood. I got to use another new Easel feature, Interactive Tabs, for this step.

When cutting all the way through a material, like I wanted to for the letters, you can use things called “tabs” to hold the cut-out pieces in place. Tabs leave small, thin pieces of the material in tact around the perimeter, preventing the design from cutting out all the way and flying around inside your machine. Easel now allows you to choose the size and placement of tabs, so you can customize them for easy removal when you’re done carving.

You can see that the tabs prevented my letters from dislodging while being cut.

I removed the tabs, then sanded and painted the letters. Here is what the finished sign looked like; I hope he likes it!

A few folks were interested in what various parts look like coming out of the machine before finishing.  We’ve been testing a lot of different materials and bits over the last few months, and we have found the quality of the parts coming out of the machine with no sanding is highly dependant on the type of material and the type of bit that you use. In our next update, we will show pictures of the tests we’ve run.

Easel Update - Now featuring a troubleshooting guide!

Hey everyone, my name is Eric and I'm a web developer here at Inventables. The dev team and myself have been working on a killer feature for Easel the past few weeks, and we think its so awesome we feel the need to share it here on the blog!

Easel is continually improving- we release updates almost daily improving performance, adding features, and fixing annoying bugs. This latest update includes our troubleshooting guide. The goal is to guide users through fixing any technical problems they may have.

We've all been there (yes, even us)- trying to cut a beautiful sign but something went wrong and it didn't turn out the way you wanted. There are lots of reasons why something can go wrong and often times a single cause can manifest itself in different ways. This can be very frustrating when all you want to do is carve your project. While this doesn't provide as comprehensive guidance as a phone call with our CS team, it is meant to provide a first step and fix common issues fast.

Our goal with Easel is to have the user go from idea to finished product as fast, easily, and consistently as possible. Nobody wants to deal with technical issues, but working through them is necessary. The troubleshooting guide aims to expedite that process and get you carving ASAP.

So what is it, and how does it work? Let's say your design is made and you're ready to get carving. You've clamped your workpiece, selected your bit and zeroed the machine. All thats left is to push "Start Carving!" You push the button, and the machine comes to life. It starts its first pass. Everything is going well; a few layers of cutting goes by and you start to notice something. The layers are getting offset. Compared to where the machine started, its now cutting a few centimeters or maybe an inch further down on the Y-Axis. You think, "Crap! Better stop cutting!" and you hit the X in Easel.

As usual, you will be prompted asking "How it went?". Before the troubleshooting update, when you clicked "No something went wrong" it would preset a text box for you to submit a bug report. That's great and all, but it doesn't solve the problem. Chances are if you start the job again, on a fresh piece of material the same thing will happen, and you will have wasted time and material. Definitely not want we want you to experience.

Now, with the troubleshooting update, instead of just a text box, we will ask what happened. In our little example, you would select "Carving is offset".  You are then presented with a list of potential causes. Each one of these potential causes has its own troubleshooting steps, which will guide you through fixing the underlying problem.

In this case we would have you start by jogging the machine long distances up and down the rail making sure it runs smooth, with no binding or odd noises. If it doesn't run smoothly, we provide the steps to solving the problem. Or if it did run smooth, there are other causes for this problem. Hopefully you don't have an issue that isn't listed, but if you do, clicking "My problem isn't on the list" allows you to submit the usual error report (we do read those by the way!).

Oh, and the list of problems and their solutions aren't static either. We can add or update the list as other issues arise. The community has been a tremendous help in identifying the issues and letting us know via phone calls and the forum. As the machine evolves and as the community helps us identify these issues we can update this feature. The more contributions from the community the better this feature will get. We try to test our machines in our lab but the real world has this habit of throwing a wrench in the works (please don't do that to your machine).

Good luck and happy carving!

A dream from Inventables... a 3D carver in every school

By the end of the decade we want a 3D carver in every school in the USA. To kickstart the project we have committed to President Obama and the White House to donate a 3D carver to a school in every state.

Carvey pilot product run was a success!

We’d like to give you a quick update on the two issues we reported last time.

The new LED boards came in, and they work flawlessly. We’re really happy with the brightness and function.
New LED Board with Fixed Panels

We received the second set of Acrylic Door Panels to replace the ones that were initially broken in shipment. The vendor’s packaging improved but is still not 100% up to our satisfaction. 5 of the 30 panels arrived broken again, and there were issues with the size and finish. We are working with the supplier to find the root cause of these problems, and we will get a corrective action implemented as soon as possible.
Acrylic Door Panel Broken in Shipment

The Inventables engineering team has been back and forth to our contract manufacturer a lot this past week, helping them get up to speed with the first Carvey pilot production build.

The process worked like this:
  • Our engineer Bart worked alongside the manufacturing engineer to build a Carvey at the facility, discussing issues as they came up
  • The manufacturers then spent the next few days tearing it down again and documenting their process
  • The manufacturer built two Carveys according to their documented process
  • Bart got the call that they were finished and went out to inspect the final result

Here are a few photos from that visit:

The Carvey manufacturing line.

Bart inspecting one of the finished units.

A third in-progress machine and the Carvey parts bins.

One of the finished machines in raw aluminum. If we had waited for anodizing to be finished, this production run would have been delayed several weeks, so we decided to split the processes and work each one in parallel. We will be receiving a set of anodized parts shortly and will be making final decisions on the color and finish.

The new connectorized controller board and wiring harness. Look at those clean wires!

The front panel button, with wiring and connector attached.

We brought one of the finished machines back to the Inventables workshop, and Bart and Tait are already at work testing the electronics and inspecting the assembly. Early reports are that it works perfectly!


Overall, we’re very impressed with the manufacturer’s work so far. These first units look great and they’ve already provided us valuable feedback to help make the manufacturing process easier and more efficient.

Expect to see some video over the next few weeks as we continue testing this new Carvey’s performance!

Next steps:

  • Run tests on the machine. Tait will be putting this new Carvey through its paces over the next several days, running 3D Carving jobs designed to test the limits of what the machine can do. We’ll be documenting those tests and sharing the results with you all.
  • We received a lot of great feedback from the manufacturer as to how the design of the machine can be improved, to cut costs and to make it easier to assemble. We are discussing how to integrate these suggestions into the next round of revisions.

Thank you again for being a part of this process, and stay tuned for upcoming Carvey test videos!


Zach and the Inventables team

Inventables Shipping Update May 22nd - 1 day ahead of schedule!

When I got into work this morning at about 8am I saw this stack of 12 X-Carves.  I knew it was going to be a good day, because part of our team had started an hour earlier and had already done this before I got my coffee.

Inventables Maker Faire Party 2015

During Maker Faire 2015 Inventables hosted a party Saturday night at Windy City Pizza.  We come visit the Bay Area from Chicago so we couldn't think of a better place to host a party!  It was close to Maker Faire and had some delicious pizza. 
We invited everyone to come sit down, rest their legs, and have some great conversation with other folks in the community.  We were honored to have a number of special guests come out and join us for all the fun!  We'll get to that in a bit.
In addition to pizza, soda, and beer we also had a few demos on hand for people to get their hands on.  The first was our new X-Carve 3D Carving machine, next to it was the new X-Controller, and finally a bunch of cool samples that had been 3D carved.

The response to the party was amazing.  We packed the restaurant and overflowed into the patio of the place!