Hi, I am pundering getting the Xcarve for some light production, mostly wood and foam patterns for composit parts, but it would be nice to be able to do some cosmetic plastic and alu parts as well. Budget is limited so its is really down to either a xcarve or a chinese jcut that looks like the only budget options that might work I realise that they are both somewhat a hobbyist level equipment. The jcut is big and cumbersome, electronics looks really old, support leaves a lot to be desired, construction is very solid on the plus side. Xcarve is cheaper, better electronics, lots of support however it looks VERY flimsy and by judging from this forum there is a lot of tinkering that goes into keeping it at a high quality and reliable level of operation, and although I normaly wouldnt mind doing just that for fun, I really dont have the time for another hobby and machine that needs constant hand holding to fullfill its sole purpose.
go X carve I have only had it for about 4 weeks and had good cuts from the start and if I had any question there support is by far the best I have run into they will work on the phone with you and I had a problem and they went in thur my computer and found the audrino was bad and had one the next day and was up and running
so far, my experience has been half and half. It began with plenty of swearing and frustration, however it is getting better. After doing a few basic mods for the xaxis (look up 30 minute x-axis) and changing the way the eccentric nuts are used, it is running way more stable. The stock machine setup following only the instructions, isn’t that stable. When making the basic changes, it is proving to have potential. the last cuts I ran went pretty well and I am starting to be able to let it do its thing without watching it 100%.
If it weren’t for the great amount of support and discussion on the forums, I don’t think this would be that great of a machine in its current state. It also helps that the team at inventables is incredibly helpful. I have nothing but great things to say about their service and support.
I think they are actually. When on the phone for an order the other day, the rep mentioned they are working on some changes.
In fact, I just emailed inquiring more about that.
The main weaknesses in my opinion are 2 things
the x axis isn’t that stable or stiff in it’s present form. doing the bolt mod helped, and i am sure doing the stiffening mod will make a world of difference, which i plan on soon.
the other issue is the eccentric nuts. however, after modifying them, (reversing the screw with the nut already on and using a nylock nut on the other end) they don’t seem like they are going anywhere. loctite also makes a difference.
I am consolidating helpful threads so they are easy to find and in one location for new users. If you go this route, these are certainly worth the time to look over.
Thank you for that, and sure it wouldnt be a big deal to work out some mods for this, but I am more scared of people talking about skipping steps, drifting and slipping over time, I dont know if that is isolated episodes with a few users or a widespredd thing, but it sounds like a potential nightmare, furthermore i plan on working with more expencive materials like carbon composits, so I can’t really live with just seing how it goes and trying again for x number of times.
Once you have the machine dialed in and understand the importance of the adjustable components. You can operate the machine with confidence. After several months of making small adjustments my machine operated within its design specs very well. 99% of all errors in cutting are now due to me doing something stupid.
So yes, you will need to spend a good bit of time cutting cheap materials (MDF) to get a feel for the machine before you load an expensive composite. But then you have a reliable machine.
Although if your sole reason for buying a CNC router is to do production runs of carbon composites you may be better off just spending the $6 to $10 K for a production ready machine.
You definitely need to have a stable base for the X-Carve in order to get good near-exact cuts, but I think it’s far better than the JCut.
I may be wrong, but I also believe the early tinkering and dialing in is going to be pretty standard across hobby machines. Belts will have to be adjusted to ideal tensions, various settings will have to bet tweaked, and fasteners will loosen up due to chatter and rattling. As with any good tool, the quality you continuously get from it depends on the maintenance you put into it. I’m not sure about the JCut, but assembling the X-Carve from scratch gives you a good chance to know how your machine works, which lets you do troubleshooting a lot easier.
On the plus side, once you get it dialed in there’s not really that much in the way of maintenance. V-wheels need to be occasionally tweaked and dust needs to be removed from the belt, but belts and pots rarely need attention after they’re set correctly. The best way to minimize other problems is to use loctite, since it keeps screws in place.
As for skipping steps, that’s a part of the dialing in process. The primary causes are low/hi potentiometer settings, low/high belt tensions, setscrews that wiggle out (hence the loctite), and pushing the machine too fast. That’s an issue common to most CNC’s, but it’s something you can quickly move past with MDF before you start loading expensive stock.
From my experience, having the machine for approx 6 months, it is in the details of set up. It sounds like the mods to help stiffen it and get better detail are necessary for you.
As for the skipping steps accuracy etc. once you know the fine tuning of your machine and the prerequisite pmcs for your machine. Then it runs fine. I check the wheels and belt before and after each day of use. While I use my machine 3-6 days of the week, it is always best to take the 5 minutes to make it all work.
The reason my vote is with the X-Carve is because you will have this awesome community at your disposal, which is an honor to be a part of. In the ~9 months the X-Carve has been out and about, and tweaked on and modded and everything else, there sure is a ton of knowledge out here to tap into and take advantage of. Collectively, there has been a lot of problem solving and people are still using their X-Carves with no sign of slowing down, that should tell you something right there.
I think that the X-Carve is a great starting point from which you can really take it in any direction you want or need. Building it yourself will give you a more intimate sense of it as a tool that you can then feel comfortable upgrading and testing out your own enhancements and mods to make it do what you want or need.
I have to second this. Prior to building my Xcarve I have operated a few different high end CNC machines and have done minor troubleshooting but never built one. Through the process of building the X carve I have gained a much higher understanding and will possibly build a stronger machine in the future if the xcarve can pay for itself and the parts for a new build.