X-Carve Shipping Update!

The transition to X-Carve has been a huge undertaking for everyone at Inventables, encompassing a multitude of projects and collaborations from every team. Engineering, software development, purchasing, customer support, warehouse operations and all the rest have been hustling to get this product designed and in our customers' hands as quickly as possible.

Now that we've finally announced it to the world, things are moving really fast! In order to get shipping as fast as possible, we're making a lot of changes to our warehouse that should help us increase our speed and efficiency, while keeping our error rates as low as humanly possible.

One of the big changes for us is that X-Carve is completely "choose your own adventure"- the machine size, motors, electronics, spindle- every module can be combined with every other one to make a machine for every individual. Customers can order more than a thousand combinations of X-Carve modules using our configurator, and the warehouse team has to be able to pick, pack, and ship those orders quickly to keep up with demand.

Our operations manager Phil is making some big organizational changes in the warehouse this week, and none too soon as our truckloads of X-Carve parts have started to arrive!

Here's Phil examining some of the 1000mm MakerSlide fresh from the anodizer-->

That's two pallets of MakerSlide on the ground next to him. Over the coming days we'll be checking each rail individually for dings, nicks, straightness, and anodizing consistency. They'll then be stacked onto shelves in the X-Carve kitting area being set up, as soon as those shelves are built.

Also arrived: Switching 24v Power Supplies!

Thousands of belt clips and drag chain mounts!


Cases of 24v cooling fans and Arduinos flashed with GRBL!


Giant spools of wire and so many oak clamps!


Literally a thousand pounds (450kg) of NEMA 23 stepper motors! Fun fact: the NEMA 23's that ship with X-Carve have 140lbs of holding torque. Beefy.

Stacks of 1000mm wasteboards and more drag chain than we've even see in one place!


And did we mention MakerSlide? Lots of MakerSlide. Not pictured: like six more pallets of MakerSlide in various lengths.

As we set up our processes, we're still working on refining parts of the customer experience. Here's Paul Kaplan from our software development team putting a little thought into the way the different X-Carve modules fit into the box. Since X-Carve is a kit that the customer puts together, it's really important to us that the process is very clear and organized from the moment you open the box.

Paul is the Inventables Tetris champion so we figured he'd be the best one to solve this problem.

And last but not least, here's a snapshot of what the process looks like on our inventory check-in workstation. Here's Lisa checking in a batch of v-wheels before they go on the shelves. We inspect every part for consistency and quality, weeding out any factory mistakes before a customer ever sees them. Last month our inventory team had a 0% error rate, which is a pretty big deal.

We'll keep you updated on our progress as the shipping date approaches. Some of the next parts to land are the awesome custom extrusions that make up the X-Z and spindle carriages, and we've got some secret new stuff coming in to the store that we're really excited about.

In the meantime, we're putting in the hours on our handful of early X-Carves in the shop, we've got beta testers out in the field checking through the build process and assembly instructions, and we're responding to all the excellent questions coming in on the new forum

Thanks for all the feedback and support so far, please keep it coming and we'll get these X-Carves shipped as fast as we can!

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, with MakerSlide as the foundation, we started selling 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...