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 Post subject: Best Small CNC Option?
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 2:28 pm 
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Newbie

Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:59 pm
Posts: 22
Hi Everyone--

I'm looking into purchasing a small CNC-- I'm leaning toward the Inventables X-Carve CNC (40"x40"). Does anyone have experience with this machine? Are there better ones out there I should consider? This one is under $2000.

Thanks,
Adrienne


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 4:35 pm 
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Master
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Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:13 am
Posts: 256
Location: Dearborn, MI
My roommate just bought the X-carve in the smallest size. He just set it up this weekend. I will get some feedback from him about it. Really depends on what you want to do. If you want to do large sheets then get a larger CNC or the shaper. The X carve doesnt take very large passes so that is another issue. All depends on what you want to do.

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:36 pm 
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Master

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:09 am
Posts: 164
Location: Ypsilanti
I had a torchmate 2x4. Sold it and now use the shopbot at makerworks.
There is no comparison between the 2 machines.
There are small format CNC's that are good, but they are pushing 10 grand.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 5:53 pm 
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Elite

Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:06 am
Posts: 1093
Location: Trenton, Michigan
Specifications show 8,000 mm/min = 314 ipm (inches per minute) rapid rate, which is for traveling while not cutting. Forum for the machine has useful information and is reasonable for that type of machine, limit of 120 ipm for final light finishing and cutting at 50% of cutter diameter at 80 ipm. The rigidity of any CNC is the most critical part to getting high cutting feed rates and depth of cut.

GRBL controller – GRBL was written for Arduino based CNC machines. Very common and is freeware. Most CAD/CAM has a post processor for GRBL.

DeWalt 611 will limit you to ¼” shank cutting tools, which is practical for this type machine.
I couldn’t find a manual or any information on the size of stepper motors. They use v-bearing on extruded aluminum frame for movement. It uses a stretched notched belt for the stepper motor to move the x and y axis. The Z axis is a traditional lead screw.

I’m not sure what you intend to use it for, but 40” x 40” seems risky for this design.

A simple 25” square in ½” material would take 10 minutes to cut with an 1/8” diameter end mill. With a ¼” diameter end mill it would take 4 minutes, but take a toll on the machine.

CNC for small shop woodworking will be the topic in a near future SEMIWW meeting.

Steve.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:48 pm 
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Newbie

Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:59 pm
Posts: 22
Great--- thanks everyone. I mostly want to make creative inlays and probably some signs. The inventables forum is really cool --if you get a chance you should check it out. Looking forward to the meeting when we discuss this topic!


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 10:33 pm 
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Obsessed
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Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 12:14 am
Posts: 1625
Location: Canton, MI
CNC's are a little strange in the woodworking world.

To use them you are dependent on the software that drives them (each is different), the programs that design for them (each is different), the speeds and feeds thy use (each is different), the way the work is held (each is different), etc.

Conceptually, when we talk about how to set up a tablesaw, every woodworker can picture in his head what's required, regardless of brand. When we talk CNC, they are all so very different. You will inevitably need to talk with someone that has that brand, model, and software in order to deal with specifics.

In my opinion, the best way to enter the CNC world is to decide what you want to make, how fast you want to make them, how precise the parts produced need to be, and how big of a part you want to make. The less refined the decisions, the more capabilities the machine needs to have. I certainly fell into that when deciding on my CNC. In other words, why buy a huge CNC with a big spindle when your goal is to cut smaller signs out of foam board?

Once you narrow your requirements down to a smaller set, search for that criteria. Then, visit the sites that handle your criteria. Learn the specs, but most importantly, look to the support, either directly through the company or through a forum set up for that machine.

That brings me around to this; whichever CNC you decide upon, you will develop a new set of online friends for the use of that CNC. Sure, a member here can and will gladly help out, but this site will not be for your go-to CNC advice.

The conversations that Zaret and I have often to talk through issues on my CNC would not pertain to any other.


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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 11:49 am 
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Elite

Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:06 am
Posts: 1093
Location: Trenton, Michigan
jbiddle wrote:
In my opinion, the best way to enter the CNC world is to decide what you want to make, how fast you want to make them, how precise the parts produced need to be, and how big of a part you want to make. The less refined the decisions, the more capabilities the machine needs to have. I certainly fell into that when deciding on my CNC. In other words, why buy a huge CNC with a big spindle when your goal is to cut smaller signs out of foam board?

Once you narrow your requirements down to a smaller set, search for that criteria. Then, visit the sites that handle your criteria. Learn the specs, but most importantly, look to the support, either directly through the company or through a forum set up for that machine.

+1

If you are spending money that is real to you or you have a business need for the CNC look for a forum where the answers are moderated and not just users giving an opinion or repeating what they "heard" works. Learn what the specs mean in making the decision.

An entry option could also be to join a place like Maker Space (Ann Arbor) or Tech Shop (Allen Park) and use their equipment to learn on and evaluate. Both have classes and software on the machines. A class and couple months on the machines will make your decision on buying a machine much more informed. Both locations have tours. I have two smaller CNC and use Tech Shop for the heavy lifting work.

Steve.


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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:36 pm 
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Apprentice

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:41 am
Posts: 35
I've found the biggest hurdle is in the software; Design (CAD), Cutting instructions (CAM), and execution (machine control). This is one area where the X-carve has a pretty big advantage. The all in one easel software is about as simple as it gets, the robust support documentation and the community of users makes for a low entry point. The downside being it could be argued it's not as capable as bigger more expensive machines, but that really depends on what you want to use it for.

I bought one of these: https://www.routakit.com/

which is basically a beefier, more capable version of the x-carve, but it runs a proprietary machine control and I never invested the time to learn the software. Haven't done much with the machine, but I keep telling myself one day I'll put in the time a get some use out of it.



jbiddle wrote:
CNC's are a little strange in the woodworking world.

To use them you are dependent on the software that drives them (each is different), the programs that design for them (each is different), the speeds and feeds thy use (each is different), the way the work is held (each is different), etc.



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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:00 am 
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Master

Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:39 am
Posts: 100
Location: Plymouth
SteveStram wrote:
An entry option could also be to join a place like Maker Space (Ann Arbor) or Tech Shop (Allen Park) and use their equipment to learn on and evaluate. Both have classes and software on the machines. A class and couple months on the machines will make your decision on buying a machine much more informed. Both locations have tours. I have two smaller CNC and use Tech Shop for the heavy lifting work.

Steve.


I know next to nothing about this stuff, so I'll see myself out shortly... :p But I can add to Steve's point above that if you are looking to try something out, if Northville is more convenient for you than A2 or AP, the Village Workshop has a "ShopBot CNC Router Table" listed as one of the pieces of equipment available in their woodshop. I believe they will require you to take their safety course first, no matter your experience level. Their website doesn't do a great job laying out options... but I'm guessing you'd want to have open shop time to tinker and learn so it looks like you'd at least join for a month @ $99 + the safety class fee (I don't see it listed). The good news is that it says no contract required so you could float each month and decide if you want to re-up and keep learning on the machine, or if it's not right for you and you want to try something else.

http://www.thevillageworkshop.com/equipment-list.html

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