Idea for Easel Pro subscription

As I watched @Zach_Kaplan’s presentation last night I had a couple of observations and what I think might be a cool idea everyone might like.

One observation is that the X-Carve is designed to a price point to be a hobbyist machine, but that’s not a complaint - the ONLY reason I and I suspect a lot of Inventables customers even have a CNC at all is because of that. It does mean there were necessary trade-offs in the design (belts instead of screws for example).

Another observation is that by all appearances some of the businesses that were presented are using that hobbyist class machine (without an official warranty) instead of a professional class one because that’s all they could possibly afford - the business would not have been viable otherwise. It also means that in some cases they are one failed and backordered part away from being late on a mortgage payment.

One of Inventables biggest strengths is in its customer service, I think they can go even further with that related to Easel Pro. My proposal:

Have a complete reserve inventory of spare parts for Easel Pro subscribers. This would have minimum required stocking levels and Inventables would maintain at least that level even if it means holding up new orders.

If a part fails, an Easel Pro subscriber can call Inventables before 3pm and the replacement part is guaranteed at their door before noon the next day. If you want to make a show of strength over it you could even have an insurance policy that’ll repay verified business losses stemming from the inability to provide a replacement part on schedule (not from the failure, only failure to provide replacement on time is covered).

Of course a lot of parts (belts) are consumables and everyone should have spares, but sometimes mistakes are made and a replacement for the spare isn’t ordered, so 1 time per an emergency shipment of something like that is covered (customer pays for the part, Inventables pays for overnight shipping).

The reserve inventory covers everything, even spare brushes for the Dewalt router. No matter what a machine needs to get back going, worst case is that it’s there the next day.

I think this would be cheap for Inventables to implement and would be valuable for businesses, but hobby users don’t need that level of assurance.



hey steve I am curious have you had problems with the parts availability from inventables ?

and really as a responsible business owner those parts need to be kept on hand in the shop especially components are as cheap as the x-carve components

you are exactly right about 1 part away from disaster and thats one reason I have built out my parts inventory so I would not have to let a customer down

companies that make machines like my bigger machines do keep parts on hand and will overnight them but my understanding is that they dont specifically set components aside they are just components on hand for builds and there inventory is good to handle the volume of sales and customer service parts

I know some companies that are very large have parts departments but i do not believe is that large or in the position to do so especially if Easel Pro takes off that would tie up capital in assets that may or may not sell

especially with machines that have no warranty that even more makes it up to the customer to stock there own parts when I used my x-carve I would stock things like

delrin nut
stepper motor

I am only a hobbyist myself so I don’t have those requirements and if I did run this as a business I totally agree that the business should stock spare parts. I haven’t had any parts availability issues with Inventables myself, but I think they have had backorders from time to time which could be a real problem for someone with a failed machine and a deadline.

What I am proposing is more of a safety net for the kinds of businesses that were featured last night, not saying that Inventables has done anything wrong in the past. While I see those small businesses keeping a stock of belts, bits, and maybe some v-wheels on hand, it doesn’t sound like they’re going to keep a spare X-Controller electronics board.

I’m not disagreeing with you at all, but if you look at the types of businesses that were presented last night they might not have the capital leeway to be fully self sufficient that way, and since those are the kinds of businesses Inventables is trying to foster, what I proposed might be a valuable insurance for them.

If Easel Pro is targeted at businesses like this and collecting a subscription for it, this protection being part of the package is something that might encourage businesses to subscribe. In terms of keeping a reserved inventory of spares (not for the individual customer, but for the Easel Pro service as a whole) I don’t think that’s all that much for them, it’d be more about the shipping costs when/if it actually happens.

So I think it’s relatively cheap and easy for Inventables to offer and could be a valuable safety net for the customers they’re trying to serve.

I really think what would attract more business to a software is having x10 times more features available over the free version

I really do see what your saying about saftey net

but I have to agree with Angus

its not all Inventables responsibility its mostly yours

I really didn’t think there would be any disagreement with this idea, after all it’s really just an enhanced extended warranty plan which I’m talking about including in Easel Pro.

Don’t know if you were watching the presentation last night, but one of the customer stories was of a woman who lost her job and then started a business around the X-Carve. These are people who were already on “Plan B” before they got out of bed in the morning.

Just also as a heads up, Belts, step motors, drive wheels, nuts and Screws etc are not one offs from inventables, I have a local store 45 mins away from me that sells CNC machine parts, limit switches, Zprobes, belts stepper motors etc, I brought him the specs of the hardware on my xcarve and he had spec match parts…also Amazon prime will get you any parts overnight. I have a 30 foot roll of belt, 2 stepper motors, 3 drive wheels, nuts and bolts, all sitting here. I’ve caught a fraying belt before a non passive failure and swapped it out in 5 mins.

I’m not lucky enough to have a store that close (that I’m aware of), but I agree that Amazon has the things you mentioned. I was more thinking about things like the X-Controller electronics, but thought the list should be comprehensive.

Maybe this was not a worthwhile idea, but it seemed good at the time.

I do not believe it is Inventables responsibility to maintain part levels to cover the individual small buisiness. They only have to maintain inventory levels based on their own actual sales plus a small additional percentage to cover spikes in sales. It is not good business to have large inventory levels, it just ties up money that could be better spent elsewhere.

The individual business has the responsibility to maintain their own equipment and to earmark money for repairs and maintenance. If someone is using a hobbiest machine in a commercial environment then maybe they should budget in a second backup machine and their own inventory level of parts. Machines wear differently and only the business owner can determine the wear and tear of various parts, not Inventables.

I didn’t mean to say it would keep a supply for each individual customer, just a stock of spares reserved for Easel Pro subscribers as a group which would not be allowed to go below some rational amount of inventory. That way any given Easel Pro subscriber would know that any required parts are available quickly and not on backorder because Inventables got a rush of new sales (maybe they did a killer black Friday deal for example).

I really don’t think I’m talking about a huge level of inventory, but it would scale by some factor with Easel Pro subscriptions.

@StevePrior The X-Controller is only an Arduino UNO with a GRBL shield. You can buy them all day long from ebay for less than $20 including shipping. I’m not running a business and I have a few spares sitting around my shop already loaded just waiting on installation. If you have a business based around one of these hobby machines and you don’t have an extra controller that is your own fault. Honestly if you are trying to run a business around a particular piece of equipment you should know everything about it and if you did you probably wouldn’t use the X-Controller. It is too cost prohibitive.

Geesh, tough room today. BTW, the original controller is the Arduino UNO and GRBL shield, the X-Controller is the same concept but all unified on one board (and one extra stepper controller).

Personally if I were making a business out of this I wouldn’t be doing it with a hobby class machine and I would keep a stock of spares on hand, but in the user case that Zach presented last night that might not be an option for everyone. You also have to understand that the whole pitch of Easel is to make CNC accessible to those who aren’t technical enough to deal with more complicated software, so the fact that I’ve got a few Arduino’s on the end table next to my spot on the couch doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be that way.

The only thing I sell as a hobby is pens I turn on my lathe, and if a customer tell me they want a specific pen blank I order an extra just in case something happens to the first one, but that’s just me.

sure it was not three times or 1 time ? lol

You don’t have to be a genius to load GRBL and the Protoneer GRBL shield has had the ability to clone any axis for years. Even in you use the more powerful DRV8825 driver chip you can still come in under $35 total. There is no reason a business dependent on one of these machines shouldn’t have a backup.

I work in manufacturing. Critical parts are always covered by spares that WE have on the shelf, not someone else. I won’t NOT expect Inventables to cover my a$$ when my machine breaks while making products that ‘I’ sell. They’re focused on stocking parts that they sell to people like us, not housing recovery inventory.

The crazy thing is you folks are telling me the basic of a service plan is a bad idea. I’ve got a Lenovo Thinkpad for which I paid extra for next day on site service - if my keyboard died right now I’d have someone show up to install a new one tomorrow. It’s not that unusual a concept. I’ve recently been told that Type A Machines has a similar plan for their 3D printers.

With yesterdays announcement of Easel Pro and lots of reactions (including mine) that what’s being offered isn’t worth the subscription charge being asked for, I thought this idea was an easy win for Inventables.

well idk man if they wanted to offer a service plan then other a service plan but I am sure it would cost alot more than 19.99 a month to hold all that inventory on the books

and I am sure the 19.99 is meant for software R&D and machine R&D which is super expensive as well

Most the R&D is done by people in these forums ( at least the R) and i don’t see that cost being very high. Inventables depends on customer feedback and makes changes based on that.

yeah but what is said on the forum is really all here-say Imo if a business wants to stand behind a product they need to preform there own research

customer input and research are 2 very different things imo