I’m not new to the CNC world. I had a PlasmaRoute CNC 4x8 table running a Thermodynamics plasma cutter. After 6 months of tweaking settings and wasting metal and consumables I gave up and sold it for half of what I paid for it it was the most confusing thing I’ve ever encountered… and I used to build jet engines for the Air Force.
So as you can tell I’m a bit apprehensive about lying down money for another CNC controlled device. I’ve never been into wood working as most of time has been spent with metal.
I’m don’t want to flop down $2500 for a machine that will take 6 months to a year to learn how to make quality products. Then there’s Easel and Easel Pro. I’d like to use Pro so I can get the benefites of shanked bits but not sure if any of these products will give me true 3D or 2.5D.
First, don’t be intimidated about learning how to do it. While there are machine-specifics, there are a lot of resources to help you out (including this forum).
Second, you ask about true 3D: Easel (Pro or not) only does 2.5D, i.e. where it can do an arbitrary number of depths (indicated by shade in Easel’s interface), but it cannot smoothly transition between depths. However, Easel can also import gcode, so you can generate the true 3D gcode from other tools such as Fusion 360. Fusion 360 is free for personal use, and there is a TON of information out there on how to use it. Here is a very accessible one to get started:
In my opinion, the big obstacle isn’t so much the x-carve itself but the product design. Depending on your CAD experience, I’d plan allocate at least 6months of learning before you’re creating quality 3d products.
Fortunately, you can download Fusion360 and give it a whirl before dropping the money on the x-carve. My suggestion would be to try that out and if it seems like something you can invest your time and energy in, then pull the trigger on the CNC.
My suggestion would be to NOT get a PRO subscription right away( or any other programs for that matter). Learn Easel and how it works to start you on your path. You get 4 Free PRO days a month (for me that has been plenty for how much I use my machine right now) Once you see what kinds of things you will be making on a regular basis… then grow to other programs (Fusion 360, VCarve, etc.)
@RayMorris. I had zero CAD experience when I started. I even tried to use Easel before I got the Xcarve and struggled with it at first. I’m a woodworker, not a CNC person at all. It was a whole new language. I’m glad I took a leap of faith and jumped in to this world. It has been great. It’s not that hard considering all the help and support that is available through the inventables support team and the wonderful people on this forum. Look at my project thread here and you can see my progression. I hope that you will do it.
@RayMorris keep in mind, you can only do 2.5d carving in Easel. 3d carving requires a different software which, in my opinion, have a much steeper learning curve. I don’t want to scare you off but you definitely need to consider that, depending on the type of work you’re interested in doing.