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Showing posts from 2014

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

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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!

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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:



Snowflake Generator

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We used to love making paper snowflakes, folding a piece of paper into quarters and snipping little pieces out, then unfolding it into a radially repeating geometric shape.

Then, our software engineer Paul Kaplan showed us this and we all put down our scissors and started using it instead.

It's an online snowflake generator!


Holiday ornament projects to make at home

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In giddy anticipation of the impending holiday season, our own designer Alex Berger created a handful of fun projects to share. These simple ornaments can be cut on a Shapeoko or a laser cutter, which means you're free to use all kids of materials- natural woods for a more traditional, rustic look, or even glitter acrylics to add a twinkle to your home.











Take a look through our materials section for inspiration: https://www.inventables.com/


Weekend project inspiration

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The weekend is finally here so it is time to get making! Here are a few awesome projects from the last couple weeks that you can open and mill directly from Easel. Have something awesome to show off? Post it as a project and we'll feature it! 






Bonus Rewards for the Carvey Kickstarter

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The speed we reached our goal was incredible and your energy was electric. We can’t thank you enough. Thanks to your ongoing support and for helping us make this happen, we want to give each Carvey backer a bit extra. You've been so incredibly supportive so far in the campaign. We want everyone that gets a Carvey from our Kickstarter to have an amazing experience. Getting started Kit!  Today we are adding a few new things to the Early Bird Carvey and Carvey levels. There are a lot of backers that are new to 3D Carving and this will be their first time carving. We want to make sure that your first experience is magical. To that end, we will be adding a piece of Expanded PVC foam material into the box, so you’ll be able to make something as soon as you open the machine. The incredible thing about Carvey is its versatility. The milling bits it uses are like lenses in a professional camera: new bits expand your creative abilities. We started you with a ⅛” 2 flute spiral end mill (gre…

Carvey carves aluminum!

We are really excited that there has been a ton of interest in carving soft metals with Carvey. We're going to do a series of videos demonstrating how Carvey performs with a number of different soft metals. For the demo today we grabbed a 6" x 6" x .025" piece of black anodized aluminum from the Inventables warehouse. The project took about 35 minutes. Easel told Carvey to step down 0.001" per pass and to move at 15 in/min. Stay tuned next week for demonstrations on thicker metals and circuit boards!



Pumpkin Carving with Easel and Shapeoko

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Shapeoko 2 owner Winston Moy made an awesome video of how to use your Shapeoko to carve a pumpkin using Easel, our web-based CAD + CAM + machine control software. 

The key is to remove the wasteboard and prop the Shapeoko up on stilts, giving you enough clearance to carve into the pumpkin. I think the most clever part is using a big coffee can to hold the spherical-ish pumpkin. Standard clamps don't work so well on pumpkins, as you might expect. And major props for giving a great introduction to using Easel!
Check out Winston's YouTube channel for a bunch of other awesome CNC projects. Also check out our projects section for more Shapeoko project ideas that you can open directly in Easel.

Keep it spooky.

Carvey: The 3D carving machine for the maker in all of us

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On Tuesday October 21st at 8am CST Inventables launched a Kickstarter campaign for Carvey a new, remarkably easy to use, tabletop 3D carving machine for making ideas into real objects. I'm proud to say we hit our goal in 1 hour and 26 minutes!
The response for the community has been beyond belief.  Thank you so much for all of the support for the Carvey project.  We are so grateful.  There have been some technical questions in the comments section about how precise Carvey is.  We want to be as responsive as possible to the questions.  In this video Chief Engineer Bart Dring uses a dial indicator that has 0.0005" accuracy. The dial indicator was bolted to the waste board on Carvey. He measures the X, Y, and Z axis to determine the precision and repeatability of the machine.   In the technical specifications we promised: Run out .0006"Resolution .001"Our measurements on the actual machine are: Run out .0004"Repeatability on X: 0.0005"Repeatability on Y: 0.0005&…

It's getting spoooky in the workshop- this ABS filament might be haunted!

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Everyone likes to make stuff, but Halloween brings about a particular type of DIY craftsmanship that we love in the Inventables office. So we decided to make a compendium of everything in our store that has Halloween written all over it, and we dug through the project archives to bring you some gems from our customers and staff that might give you the heebie-jeebies (in a good way).

Firstly, click this link to see the cornucopia of "halloweenable" materials in our store. Things that glow in the dark, light up, things to easily mold, and all sorts of materials in autumn colors, it's a lot. Here's a brief sampling:



And to get your gears turning, here's a few of our favorite customer projects:
Haunted House by Jeff Talbot
Jeff is one of the software engineers behind Easel, and he is easily frightened by poorly aligned text. He was very brave to have finished this project. 


Gold Bones by Justine Mendoza

A good number of our customers run Etsy shops and the like, making…

Zach Kaplan's talk at MakerCon NYC

Our founder and CEO Zach Kaplan gave a talk recently at NYC MakerCon wherein he outlines the evolution of desktop fabrication and gives some idea of where this whole thing is going. The talk was recorded by the fine folks at Make Magazine, it's short and to the point and definitely worth checking out.

Fishtail end mills!

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Fishtail end mills are our new favorite bit! They're awesome for getting clean edges on thin material and for making pockets with flat bottoms. We now use them more often than any other kind of bit.
We recently published a project using them here. We chose a fishtail end mill for this project to ensure a clean edge on the acrylic numbers.


They would also be the perfect bit to use in the Drunken Woodworker's inlay project that we shared last week.
We also just released an End Mill Starter Set that includes fishtail bits, as well as a few others to cover just about any situation. Convenient!

Easel is now available to everyone

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Today we are extremely happy to announce that Easel is available to everyone. 
Easel is a web app for 3D carving with the Shapeoko. You design in 2D while simultaneously viewing a 3D preview of your design cut into the material of your choice with real-world machine considerations like bit size. You'll see instantly what parts of your design can be cut with your size of bit. Import an existing design or use our simple and intuitive design tools to make something new. Then just connect to your Shapeoko and hit "Carve". 




Before getting into the why behind Easel, you should try it out for yourself. Go to app.easel.com and try it out. We've also created a section of Easel projects you can get started with right away. This stamp project and sign project are both fun and easy introductions.





Why would a hardware store make software?

To us and to our customers, Inventables is much more than a hardware store. Our core objective is to feed the revolution of small-scale design, …

How to use a 3D Carving machine to propose to your girlfriend

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The internet was abuzz last week when one of our customers shared his labor of love with Reddit. Inventables customer Joe Ternus decided to propose to his girlfriend in the most elaborate way possible, starting with chopping down a tree. He then created a box, an opening iris gear mechanism, and a key to open it all and reveal the ring using his 3D carving machine.









She said yes, of course.

Making wood inlays using Easel + Shapeoko

Video blogger David Picciuto, aka The Drunken Woodworker, just published an awesome video detailing how to go from design to a finished beautiful wood inlay piece using Easel and a stock Shapeoko. Check it out!


Inventory Count Day at Inventables

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We're improving the way we do inventory at Inventables!  Today we shut down shipping operations temporarily while we do a full physical inventory! Our team is hard at work counting every last item in our warehouse.
What's the point?? We are working to improve our inventory system so we can keep the things you need in stock. Step one is to make sure our physical inventory matches the count on our website. Here is a glimpse inside of this detailed process.










Autodesk's Fusion 360 now supports Shapeoko!

Autodesk's deep catalog of CAD and CAM software is well known for being easy to use and highly powerful for creating pretty much everything. A new feature you may not be aware of is that Fusion 360 and CAM 360 now support exporting gcode for Shapeoko.

Youtube user jgilbert20 breaks it all down and shows you how to take a 3D design to finished pieces:



Autodesk's Fusion 360 and CAM 360 are available to try for free from Autodesk's website for 30 days, and are free for students and enthusiasts. Thanks Autodesk!

What actually goes on in the Inventables office? Secrets revealed!

Last week we were visited by Bob from I Like To Make Stuff, who just happened to be in town on unrelated awesomeness. He brought his camera and we gave him a tour of our office, warehouse and workshop. Here's that glimpse into the workings of our machine, captured for posterity:



Thanks Bob! And check out his website I Like To Make Stuff.

Quiet Cut Spindle for Shapeoko CNC Router with ER11 Collets & Mounting Options

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Here is a short tutorial to show the Quiet Cut Spindle from Inventables and to answer a few basic questions.

#1 Question - How quiet is is?  Very quiet. Please watch the video below to compare it to the standard rotary tool.


#2 How do I mount it? Because the Quiet Cut Spindle is much shorter than a rotary tool you might find that you have to mount it lower. There are two good ways to do this. Option two is the preferred method because it gives you the maximum clearance under the gantry.


Option One - lower the MakerSlide
Loosen the 4 screws securing the MakerSlide to the Z-axisLower the MakerSlide so the cutting bit can reach the waste boardRe-square the MakerSlide with the waste boardTighten the mounting screws
Option Two - swap the mounting block with the Delrin nut
Remove the hardware holding the upper mounting blockRemove the two screws holding the Delrin nutLower the Z-axis plate below the end of the MakerSlideAttach the mounting block to the lower holes, where the Delrin nut wasManu…

Maker Faire Detroit 2014

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This weekend the Inventables Team hit the road and drove from our headquarters in Chicago to the Motor City for the 2014 edition of Maker Faire Detroit.
After about a 5 hour drive me finally made it.  The Faire is hosted by The Henry Ford Museum. The mission of the Henry Ford is to provide unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories, and lives from America's traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation. Their purpose is to inspire people to learn from these traditions to help shape a better future.  That's what it makes it a perfect venue for Maker Faire.
In addition to having a huge parking lot out front they have an incredible number of artifacts that you might call a piece of "Americana".  For example one of the original Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobiles below.
When we got there we were assigned to this spot in a big tent with a bunch of other Makers.  We turned this empty parking spot into a booth that showcased our new Easel software…