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CNC

Inventables X-Carve Large Crop

2017 NEW X-Carve From Inventables – Review and 1st Project

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If you’ve followed me for any length of time you’ve probably seen me talk about some of the CNC machines from Inventables. I’ve reviewed the Shapeoko 2, X-Carve version 1 and now the X-Carve version 2 (or 2017 model). I’ve really enjoyed getting to see the transformation and maturing of this product over the years. They send me these machines to get me to do an honest review (seriously). That’s the only way I do it. I’m a straight shooter (sometimes to a fault some would say).

When Inventables reached out to me for the latest version I agreed to do the review as they’ve made some enhancements to the platform. Plus, they’ve created several new options for it. Options like a very versatile and reasonably priced clamping set and a thoughtful and complete dust collection solution.

Shipping

All the components arrived in great packaging and were undamaged with the exception of the large MDF table surface.  It suffered a minor bump about mid way down the right edge.  It was purely cosmetic so no issue really.  The corners were very well protected by high density foam but as usual the shipper found a way to leave their mark.  There were 4 boxes in total with the largest being the table.

Assembly

Assembly was a much different experience this time.  I believe my more pleasant experience this time is the result of two things.  First, this isn’t my first rodeo so to speak.  I’ve had some experience in assembly with the first version X-Carve.  Secondly, Inventables made the assembly process easier.  This fact is most evident in the X axis bridge.  Instead of 2 lineals that make up the bridge, there is just one double sized lineal.  This eliminates the trouble of having to space the lineals correctly so that the X axis carriage rides smoothly.  Also making the assembly process easier is that all the stepper motors now connect to the wiring with a plug instead of the old screw terminal connection.  The wires are also labels very well.  The total number of pieces seems to be less overall.

Every tool you needed was supplied in the optional tool kit with the exception of 2 things, a pair of scissors or wire cutters and a 5mm hex driver bit.  Most people have scissors but I didn’t have 5mm hex driver for my drill.  I was able to make one by cutting off a length of a cheap hex key I had laying around.  You need the hex driver to install the threaded inserts into the X-Carve table or at least to do it in an easier way.  A standard 5mm hex driver could work but it would take a considerable longer time.

The online instructions do a good job of walking you through the assembly.  I was able to put the entire unit together, by myself, in a few hours.

New Standard and Options

The old standard DC spindle has been replaced by the, once optional, DeWalt 611 router.  The 611 has a lot of power for it’s size and it’s not to loud.  There’s also the added benefit of being able to get precision collets for it as well.

The clamp set is a great option.  It’s very complete and allows you to easily secure your materials to the table for cutting. There are 5 different length plastic straps, 5 different length color coordinated hold down bolts, 5 short step blocks, 5 tall step blocks, and 5 riser blocks all with 5 of each.  A great value in my opinion.

The dust collection System.  As great as the clamp set is, I’m most impressed with the dust collection system.  It’s very well thought out and works great.  The systems main components consist of a dust shoe, side mount brackets, hose, and grounding wire.  It’s super easy to install and comes with a generous length of hose.  The grounding strap is a nice add to help dissipate the static charge the could develop when using the system.  The removable dust shoe is securely held on with magnets.  Yet you can still remove it with relative ease when needed.

There are also several different bits that you can add in various types and sizes.  I show two different packs and detailed picture of each bit further down in the blog post.

Another advantage ti the DeWalt 611 router being standard is that you can add the optional precision collet set.  It is made to a higher standard the your typical factory collet and will have less run-out which translates to a better surface finish on your parts.

Use

As with the previous Inventables CNC machines, using it is very straightforward and easy.  The Easel software is very intuitive and walks you through the process by leading you through a series of questions.  Questions like how thick is your material and what size bit will you be using.  There’s an enormous amount of information for Easel online and the basic account is free so you can be using it right away.  Even before you buy an X-Carve.

Hard Drive Ring Trivet?

My first project with the latest X-Carve was something that popped in my head.  It accomplished a several things for me.  Firstly,  It’s a good project for the X-Carve,  Second, I get to use some beautiful Black Walnut wood that Inventables sent me. Third, I get to make use of some hard drive platter spacer rings I’ve had laying around for a while.  I use 9 of these rings and press fit them into a square of the Black Walnut to make a unique trivet.  The contrast between the shiny aluminum rings and the beautifully grained Black Walnut couldn’t have been better.   I created the design and CAM job in Fusion360, then imported the file into Easel and had the X-Carve do it’s thing.  After a few goofs on my CAMing job, I finally got it right.  I think the results speak for themselves and I’m pleased how it turned out.

Final Thoughts

This version of the X-Carve is better (as it should be) than the previous versions.  Inventables is listening to feedback and making improvements to the X-Carve platform.  They’re offering additional solutions with the options they’ve brought to market.  DIY CNC is fun, but it’s not for everybody.  It takes multiple disciplines to bring a functional and accurate machine together.  If you want to concentrate on making things with a CNC machine then you should buy one in my opinion.  The X-Carve is a good starting place for a new user of for a small business that needs to cut out shapes, art, etc.  Like the home signs I mentioned or the wooden shapes the a lot of these “paint n pour” type places allow you to paint things with a group of friends.  (sometimes I do feel like a free business consultant 🙂

Be sure to sign up for a free Easel account.  It’s free and easy to use.

Emily Kate’s

KR33CNCv2 diy cnc machine

How do you connect a brake to a ClearPath DC servo – Neo7CNC

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I’ve been asked this question many times since I started using the ClearPath DC servo motors from Teknic. First, lets review the WHY you’d need to use one. Unlike standard stepper motors, most servos do not present any resistance to rotation when the aren’t powered or enabled. Meaning that if the servo motor encounters a fault condition or loses power, it can freely spin. On the X and Y axis of most vertical CNC machines this may not be an issue.  However, on the Z axis, you have all the weight of the spindle motor and brackets pulling down on it.  Gravity will take over if there is a fault or lose of power.  This could be catastrophic for the spindle, endmill, work piece or even the CNC machine itself.

To safeguard against the Z accidentally dropping, we can use an electro-mechanical brake between the shaft of the servo and the shaft of the ballscrew that moves the Z axis up and down. For this example, I’m using a brake from Inertia dynamics that I found on eBay.  It operates on 24vdc and when at rest (unpowered), it’s locked.  If you supply it with 24vdc it unlocks and it can rotate.

The overall setup is straightforward. The ClearPath servo has all the control we need already built in.  There is an output from the servo that is “ON” when the servo is powered AND enabled.  We’ll use this logic combined with a Crydon solid state relay to control the brake.  Wiring is also pretty simple.  We’ll also need power supplies to power the relay, brake and servo (servo power supply not pictured).  The Allen-Bradley 24vdc power supply is for the Inertia Dynamics brake and the 5vdc Mean-Well power supply is for the solid state relay. The relay will control power to the brake and the relay will be controlled by the output from the ClearPath servo. Pay close attention to the polarity on the solid state relay as it is polarity sensitive on the input and output unlike standard mechanical relays.

ClearPath DC servo motor: CPM-SDSK-2311S-EQN

Inertia Dynamics brake: 8923-2331 – purchased from eBay.

Solid state relay: Crydom DC60S3

Gene Haas Center

The Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation in Greenville SC.

By | 3D Printing, CNC, Software | No Comments

I had an opportunity to visit the Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation last week.  I loved it! I was like a kid in a candy store. This brand new center has areas for CNC (subtractive manufacturing), manual milling, lathe work and grinding, 3d printing (additive manufacturing), pneumatics, hydraulics, robots, mechatronics and more! I was there for a lunch and learn that featured 3d printing technology from HP and MarkForged and also 3D design software from Solidworks. This facility is used by Greenville Technical college, Clemson University and also by local industry.  They are also starting an business incubator very soon.  Watch the video below for more information.

X-Carve CNC Machine Inventables

X-Carve DIY CNC Machine from Inventables

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Here’s a recent video series where I talk about the X-Carve CNC machine from Inventables. I also have some pictures of the assembled unit as well as a few shots of their newly released X-Controller.

I think the X-Carve is good for beginners and people looking to make crafts.  With the spindle upgraded to the DeWalt 611 you can cut much faster and use larger bits.  This comes at the price of increased noise from the router.  I’ve seen others build an enclosure to keep the dust and sound at bay.

For the price, it’s a decent introduction to CNC. Especially when considering the larger of the two with around a 40″ x 40″ work envelope.  With the drive mechanisms being belt oriented, be prepared to tighten them occasionally.

I found the control software very easy to use.  Its a very pleasurable experience in fact.  The first job on the Shapeoko 2 (version prior to the X-Carve) used the same Easel software and it was so straightforward that my 9 year old son ran it.

I beta tested the X-Controller and was also very pleased with the ease of setup and use.  As I said in the video, the last thing I want to do after I finish building the X-Carve is building the electronics.  The X-Controller solves that.  It’s very plug and play and well thought out though I’d like to see some dust control and an external e-stop option on it.

Click HERE for the picture gallery.

Neo7CNC DIY Parts Tumbler

DIY Parts Tumbler

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When I was researching how to finish the LoopAliens, I decided to build a tumbler.  It turned out well after I converted it to a larger, more capable motor.  It’s ended up being more of a ball mill than a tumbler, but it did work.  Creating it gave me a good excuse to turn out some really nice parts on the larger CNC machine I built some years ago.  Click HERE to see the CNC machine I used.

After the proof of concept, I ended up buying a very large vibratory tumbler to run production parts with.  It allowed me to finish hundreds of parts at a time rather than 50.  Creating the “ball mill” was a good educational experience.

Here are some decent pictures from the DIY parts tumbler build I did some time ago

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