Inventables has just announced a substantial Pro upgrade to its popular X-Carve line of CNC machines. Unlike 3D printing, which adds material to create a final object, CNC machines carve away material (hence X-Carve) to produce a result. 3D printing is considered "additive manufacturing," while CNC production is considered "subtractive manufacturing."
While CNC devices have long had their roles in factories and mass production, it's only been in the last 20 years or so that we've seen CNC machines become available for small makers and designers. And it's only been in the last decade that those CNC machines didn't require tremendous mechanical skill and patience to set up and use.
X-Carve was one of the first desktop fabrication mechanisms designed to be approachable and reasonably affordable. That's not to say it was easy to get started. Look up the early X-Carve machines in internet forums and YouTube videos, and you'll find stories of folks struggling to get the configurations just right.
Fiddly though they may have been, the X-Carve machines were transformative for many users. As we've seen with 3D printers, there's been a move from just offering basic capabilities to vendors producing tools designed for busy professionals. There has been a real need for a desktop CNC designed for the busy professional.
Announced this week, but not shipping until next April, the X-Carve Pro is what the company calls a professional-grade solution intended for building large CNC projects. The company is targeting the X-Carve Pro to entrepreneurs, makers, and businesses who want to grow, and who need a machine that's fast, accurate, and easy-to-use.
"This year, our customers have relied on X-Carve and Easel to do more than 3 million carves," said Zach Kaplan, Inventables CEO. "We've talked to hundreds of customers and built the new X-Carve Pro to help their businesses grow faster. X-Carve Pro can carve 4x8 [foot] sheets, run 25 times faster than our prior model, and is easy for non-technical people to use."
The 4x8 sheet capability is interesting because the X-Carve Pro is only available in 4x4 foot and 4x2 foot varieties. The company has developed a method to register placement for large sheet goods and move them on the carving bed during production. This can really open doors (possibly literally, to fit the sheets) for workshops with smaller floor space to produce larger-scale projects.
The X-Carve Pro can be used for batch manufacturing, molds, cabinetry, built-ins, signs, art, large-scale productions, and more. For the first 30 days of pre-order, Inventables is offering more than 40% off the standard price, with a starting price of $5,495 for the 4x2 model.
Looking forward to 2021
As you know, ZDNet's DIY-IT 3D Printing and Desktop Fabrication Discovery series started with hands-on exploration of 3D printing. In 2019, we added the second leg of desktop fabrication technology: An exploration into laser cutting. Our plan, in 2021, is to add the third leg: CNC production.
Stay tuned for our CNC "best of" guide, along with a series of hands-on articles about getting to know CNC design and creation in the same way we've explored 3D printing and laser cutting.
We also look forward to telling you more about Inventables and the other innovators in the designer, maker, and professional CNC product space.
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