Inventables Community Forum

Middle School purchase

looking at adding a CNC machine to our technology lab. I teach middle 7th and 8th graders. Looking for any advice on which unit and maybe why.


I taught middle school for 29 years with 300 kids a year. I like the X carve but it is a hobbiest machine and you probably would spend more time fixing than working. My co worker had a modular lab and the stuff was cool but not industrial strength. Something was always breaking.

I would suggest something with supported linear bearings, anti backlash screws, and lots of weight and rigidity. You’d be looking at about a 5-6000 dollar machine these days for a larger machine. You want something you don’t have to adjust everyday. Just my 2 cents. Kids are hard on machines and don’t treat them the same that an adult might.

By the way, I built my first cnc router for the school I was working in out of hardware store materials using John Kleinbauer’s plans

Something like this should work out in school.

I have a probotix controller on my other machine. They also sell routers:

These guys have been selling to schools and industries for at least 15 years.

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I have grade school aged children and we have participated with the local maker space scene. Most of the spaces have 3D printers and laser cutters. I’ve never seen the kids do any projects with the CNC machines even though the maker spaces have them.

The laser cutters draw the biggest crowds of kids because the 2D designs are easier than 3D designs and the lasers are fast.

In a classroom situation it’s hard to pull off a complete 3D print of CNC job in a typical class period.

If you continue down the CNC path, you will need to go for a fully enclosed unit like the Carvey. I would go for several 3D printers and a good laser like the Dremel which is UL listed.

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@GarickeRubin Can you tell us more about your class / space? What do you plan on doing in the classes? Are you asking specifically about a CNC router? What’s your budget look like?