New guy, Questions, questions, questions

Hey all, I hope you’re all well.

I’m about a month away from dropping about £2000 on an Ultimaker 2+… and then I saw this :open_mouth:

On the face of things, considering one also has the option of layer construction (cutting out layers, sticking them together… kinda plastic spitter-ish) amongst all the other kinds of cutting, engraving etc, it doesn’t really seem as if I’d lose any functionality with this machine, in fact there seems to be numerous pluses to this, different materials such as woods, acrylics (probably nylon sheeting?) soft metals (with certain conditions I expect), so this seems to be the far better and more functional machine, but I’m a naturally cynical person… so what’s the catch?

I’ve been searching for vids on the machine, the Carvey specifically, and tbh there really aren’t many that aren’t by Inventables and if I’m honest most vids I come across for the x-carve are… showing reliability problems, maybe I’m not searching for the correct thing or not watching enough or they’re simply out of date, but I have to admit to at least a little apprehension, YouTube doesn’t usually have such a shy bladder, so while I’m here being reassured (hopefully), I thought I’d rattle off all of the other questions I have.

First one (which happens also to be the first topic I stumbled into, and now I’m not so confident. :frowning: < (maybe that should be ‘sad face’, I’m not particularly angry) SAFETY… I read the topic that states there are ‘asbestos level’ dangers with microscopic particles, depending on the material (and even viruses from tropical woods, wow), I have to admit that caused BIG RED FLAGS, and there doesn’t seem to be a particularly easy solution apart from drilling holes in the machine and constructing some kind of cyclone HEPA vaccum… Are the dangers real? Is there a more convenient solution?

Second, are there any major limitations to the machine, I’m looking to users who’ve have been using the machine, but in practice suddenly run into a problem with achieving their intended results, not because of errors but because the machine can’t do a thing… I’m not sure if I can ask any specific questions seeing as I have yet tried to do something on it.

I’ll stop numbering them and just ask questions by paragraph… How’s the noise levels, TESTED, which is where I saw this BTW, your advertising worked, made out that if not ‘quiet’ then certainly phone levels of comfort (which I think is pretty quiet, although if they were going to make that point they should have given an example… they’re quite lax on that kind of thing)… Do we have a decibel level? (I have to admit this is why my first jump was for the UM2+, it’s supposed to be a quieter beastie)

It’s been a long time since I did any woodworking, but my understanding of routing back then is that shape of the groove is down to the shape of the tip, I notice a lot of consternation about v-cuts and a lot of talk about software, so considering that seems to be a current limitation, what am I missing there? Can’t we just use a cone shaped cutter tip? At increasing depths it would smooth itself out. Also what I assume to be a connected issue can the z axis and x or y move at the same time? Can dome-ish shapes be done? Could I layer a non-stepped globe for example or roundish bumps of any kind?

Is the machine and it’s functionality as good as you thought it’d be? Is this purchase worth it versus a plastic spitter?

Does delivery to the UK pose any problems? (apart from the ones UPS have been causing? :frowning: <(that’s a frown)) (Can you write in big red letters on the box "Very Fragile… Customer will throttle you at the frontdoor if broken? [/jk…maybe])

How much is carriage?

What’s the lead time?

Is there anything else I should be aware of?

Well, that was long winded for a first post… If you have reached this far, you have my thanks… and his axe.

Regards, all round. (wait you see, I’ll think of another question in a sec…) (Edit… told ya.)

This might not be what you are looking for but I have some vids for the 1000mm xc on my youtube channel.
I have had no real issues with this machine other than operator error and the 24 vdc spindle that came with it. I have had this machine just under a year the belts are still mint. I cut steel, sheet metal, brass, aluminium, stone, glass, wood, and plastic. I have spent $0.00 in repairs and have only made adjustments to the machine 4-5 times and less than $20 in stiffening mods. It has been well worth the money to me

I’ll see if I can help answer some of these questions. I’ve had my X-Carve for about 10 months and love to use it whenever I find the time. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the Carvey, so if that’s what you’re looking at then others will have to clarify.

Particulate dangers: The dangers from the dust depend on the material you’re machining. Some people are allergic to certain woods and don’t know it until they’ve breathed in the dust. Some tropical woods irritate the heck out of everybody’s lungs. Things like carbon dust (from carbon fiber) can be bad. The best way to mitigate any kind of problem due to the dust is to have good dust collection at the cutting tool. Many users consider it only after their shop has 1/4" of dust on every horizontal surface, but it should be one of the first things to think about. Unless you’re cutting something really bad, you should be able to get away with a good dust collector. Throw a cyclone in the mix, you’re doing even better. Effectively, the danger isn’t any worse than using a regular router on your material. There are a number of dust shoe designs out there, and some you can purchase that will fit the X-Carve.

Limitations: This isn’t a super-expensive machine, so you’re not going to be milling huge chunks of steel in minutes. The base X-Carve model is capable of doing soft metals slowly, and can do them quite a bit faster and better with a few inexpensive modifications.

Noise Levels: That all depends on the spindle/router and the dust collection method. I have the Dewalt 611, which has sound levels typical to a router. I use a Shopvac, which is loud but has great suction. The machine itself is super-quiet, including the steppers.

Bits: The typical bits used by most of us are either flat on the bottom, round on the bottom, or come to a point (V-bit). They each have their own types of cuts that they can and can’t do. For instance, you wouldn’t use a V-bit to cut a pocket unless you want sloped edges and you have a few days to wait.

Cut Types: The Z axis absolutely can move at the same time as the X and Y, it all depends on the software. At the moment, Easel can’t support that type of movement (maybe it will with imported G-code?). Easel is a great program, especially for those starting with CNC, and it gets improvements all the time, but it has limitations. Other programs will allow you to design an object and generate the G-code, which can be fed to the X-Carve by Easel or a couple other G-code senders. Some programs are expensive, others are free.

(On an aside, you would want to use a ball-end bit to do something like a half-globe since it would give the smoothest finish.)

I love the machine, and I’m looking forward to a lot more time playing on it in the near future. I’ve machined a LOT of MDF and wood, and a bit of aluminum without problems that weren’t due to user error. The base model is fine for many hobby-level applications, and modifications are inexpensive and easy to make. The customer support from Inventables is the best I’ve ever seen, as is the group in this forum.

I can’t answer any of the shipping/time questions, so I’ll wrap this up. You may want to check out the projects section of the Inventables website to get an idea of some of the capabilities, and definitely play around with Easel (no CNC required).


Thanks for the reply.

You actually managed to mill a carbide steel saw blade. That was a stunning demonstration, well done.

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Thank you very much for your reply to me, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. I had begun to wonder if my post had caused mass offense considering how many people had read it and the fact the I was a asking for nothing more than the benefit of the community’s opinion and experience. I don’t feel that the site is quite as hostile to new comers as I did.

Thank you again.

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No worries, it’s a great group on here. Just give it time, I’m just glad I read it when I did since I was offline for a few weeks. I think the reason for so few answers is likely because many people on here don’t like to half-arse their answers and don’t have the time to answer so many things at once, or don’t know decent answers to all of the questions, and thus remain silent. Some of the things may have already been covered by other forum threads, but this is a unique forum design that takes some getting used to.

If I can make a suggestion, pick one or two questions and put them in a new thread. Then another couple questions in another. Then questions about pricing/shipping/etc. in a third. That will likely get you quite a few more answers since it won’t seem so overwhelming to those who answer.


Hostile to newcomers? I think you posted your question 3 days ago, which is a relatively short time to get a detailed response to a large number of non-trivial questions that span a wide range of topics.

I assume that you’re familiar with the basic differences between additive and subtractive manufacturing? I ask because of the comparison you make to the Ultimaker 2+, which is a 3D Printer, or “plastic spitter” as you call it. There are some fundamental differences in the type of construction that each can be used for which should probably guide your purchase decision. A major one is that a 3D printed object can be built in one piece with internal cavities and overhangs. This is not possible with subtractive techniques. On the other hand, a CNC machine is capable of doing things that a 3d Printer cannot.

As you mention in your missive, the CNC machine can work on a variety of materials, such as wood and aluminum. It can also typically work on larger pieces than what a 3D Printer can, although with the Carvey this is not the case. Another thing a CNC machine can do easily is make modifications to an existing object. Take for example a bookshelf side that has holes for shelf support pins. You can easily stick this in your CNC machine and program a new set of additional holes that will be the exact size and location you want. Or take a broken guitar neck and cut a clean mating surface onto which a new part can be glued on.

If you peruse several of the longer threads in this forum from members, you’ll get a good idea of what people have made with the X-Carve. This one by Erik Jenkins is quite good. There are also quite a few from Jeff Parish, like this one. It should be possible to infer from these that the X-Carve can be reliable and accurate, but it does require care in assembly and perhaps a certain degree of mechanical aptitude to keep it operating that way. I assume that 3D printers have their own quirks too, although I don’t own one myself. In a recent class I took on 3D Printing, the instructor mentioned that the Qidi is an excellent 3D Printer that is available for $700. In the same breath he mentioned that the heated bed broke on the one they had purchased within a month of receiving it. Your mileage will vary.

Safety… is a broad topic that is not solely related to the machine itself. Are you safe when you work in the shop? Do you use dust control when milling and sawing? Do you keep your work environment clean and swept? Do you wear appropriate protection when working around power tools? The Carvey is enclosed, which should minimize dust and the risk of flying debris, but there will be some dust and chips that escape and you will need to clean the inside of the machine out between projects. A brief check on the Inventables site says that the Carvey does not have a dedicated port for dust collection, but I assume you could add one to it. Personally, if I were milling carbon fibre, I would want one and I would add a small air filtration system in my work area to do fine particulate filtering. But I do not believe these machines pose an inordinate amount of risk over many other machines in my shop. Articles in the 70’s were pointing out the cancer risk of breathing in wood dust generated by sanding and other milling operations, so this is nothing new.

Machine limitations… are predominantly related to the those inherent to subtractive manufacturing. I believe that certain materials, like steel, are not recommended, but with patience and diamond burrs I can’t see why it couldn’t do it. The X-Carve is a hobby grade machine that sells for around $1k. For 10x that price, you can get a similarly sized machine that will cut faster, and perhaps require less maintenance, but fundamentally it will have the same limitations in what it can produce that the X-Carve has.

Noise… I have no idea and I’ve never cared about this. I know that I’m essentially running a router and a vacuum cleaner at the same time when I use my X-Carve and I wear hearing protection when they’re on. My guess is that the enclosure on the Carvey helps significantly with noise, but that you’ll hear noise from the bit working in material, especially when the material is hard. From what I’ve read and the videos I’ve seen, 3D Printers are quieter, but not silent. At a guess, you could probably run a Carvey in an apartment and not bother your neighbors too much.

Shapes… within the limitations of subtractive manufacturing done on a 3-Axis mill, there are no limitations to what you can make with these machines. I encourage you to looks for examples of sculpture and other pieces that illustrate this. People will be happy to show these off to you, as they are justifiably proud of them.

Satisfaction… I’m very happy with my X-Carve. It has exceeded my expectations from the very beginning. It is not perfect, but it is far better than anything I would have cobbled together on my own. The company has been amazing and the other users of the machine make up one of the best Online communities I’ve seen.

Other things… You should have the tools and devices needed to measure material accurately and to prepare your stock. You may be able to purchase much of your material in a form that is machine-ready at delivery, but I imagine at some point you’ll want to move beyond this.

What would be most useful to us on this forum is if you could describe what types of things you’d like to make. Maybe also tell us a bit more about the limitations of your workspace and budget. No one here wants you to make a decision that you’ll regret later.


Usually I wouldn’t have put so many questions in one post, but I didn’t want to offend by posting so many individual posts, some forums don’t like that and as I was new I didn’t know on which side to err.

Thanks again.


Most forums just post the answer they are best able to and leave it to others to fill in the blanks and the answers come gradually I certainly didn’t expect each potential answerer to go the through the list answering each in turn so again that raises my opinion of the people here.

Unfortunately I’m curtailed to the house as I look after a sick parent and am unable to satisfy my need to 'shop as I can’t afford the time get to a workshop and as such I only have my own room which to use as my area, I’d prefer the option of multiple material, I love wood and always have done, but my reasons for mostly considering the plastic printer was ease, I could make, without organisational and debris impact on my surroundings… actually my first project was to be from nylon, effectively a compact ‘transforming’ combination construction design incorporating vice, bench press, using my powerful electric drill, and clamping device for conversion to milling device, which would have opened up my options considerably and the idea of using one device to make other different devices amused me, although admittedly the logistics of keeping it all enclosed and having the ability to keep my room as clean as possible, which is an absolutely necessity considering my situation, was causing substantial nightmares, and plastic printing at the end of the day is a cleaner, though far more limiting, endeavour, that’s also why noise levels is an utmost consideration, to be honest I’m not so sure my aspirations are realistic given my situation. That’s why an enclosed milling machine with the options for exactly the materials I’ve wanted to work with for so long, seems heaven sent and considering that the machine itself is cheaper than the plastic printer, my enthusiasm for the Carvey hit critical and immediately turned my head… I’m aware enough to know the drawbacks I face but have managed to source what seems to be the only filtering ‘system’ that’s available and within my budget, an upright sealed HEPA vacuum at £600 (did you know that ‘real’ HEPA vacuums in the UK are very difficult to come by (well, not at a price that isn’t daylight robbery) due to an EU directive banning appliances such as those that exceed 1600w and devices such as these require that kind of power to suck through a good HEPA filter?.. just something else I found out in my endeavours, it’s all been very trying, I keep hitting brickwalls), if I run the accessory hose from it though a hole in the back I should accomplish my goal as long as I enclose the machine itself, well enough maybe using some kind of thick, strong, polythene hood for it that zips, along with an outer seal, to allow access, kinda like a smaller version of a medical tent (no idea where to source something like that from). I just have the space considerations for the upright itself to work out although if I have to hang it from the ceiling I will. (Any idea if running an upright constantly on it’s side is a viable proposition?, considerations, consideration.)

As far as my aims go, my only real goal at the moment, is to give myself as wide a set of options as I can possibly open up for myself. I’m not interested in making money, I just need an interest other than my computer (which is becoming exceedingly… boring (?)) and home obligations (I say ‘obligation’ but family is family, it’s my pleasure to be in a position to help when it’s needed now, so that’s not really how I see it). I can’t even begin to nail down possible projects until I know exactly what my limitations are (although I like the idea of making a layer wooden globe consisting of different ‘regions’ of wood).

I’m admittedly a little disappointed in the more basic nature of Easel and the cost involved in the more functional software (more expensive than the machine, heh, but certainly understandable given the viability of ensuring the continuance of a company like this, it’s not my biggest hurdle.)

So as I really do have to get it all right first time round (I’ll spend what I have to within fair reason, to get it right but I’m not in a position to waste money on solutions that don’t work out), this is the reason for my numerous question, and any and all help in the matter is much appreciated.

Thank you. [/wall]

Hey @fumbleumble welcome to the community!

With regards to Easel what kind of functionality were you hoping for. There are quite a few new features in Easel that we have recently launched. Also we have a team of 7 people working on it every day. We push out new features every 1-2 weeks.



I hope my comment didn’t cause offense, maybe I overstated too much.

TBH, I’m just (‘just’ he says) looking for roughly human level functionality, curves (on the z axis) is mostly at the top of my list because I’m pretty much familiar with the other functions available to me and as has been confirmed for me the machine doesn’t have many if any limitation I couldn’t achieve by hand. Along with everything else it can do, if I can pull off a globe (in slices obviously, I’m not so unreasonable as to expect spheres in one operation) and v-cut script text that would pretty encompass the all functionality for my other aims, I know these are the common calls and I know you are working on this kind of thing, and that, like everything else it’s time and manpower that can be dedicated to a particular task. As far as I understand it your more professional software is capable of this as well as much more and I certainly understand that you, as a company, have priorities, I don’t feel hard done by by this, and although I’d love to purchase it, if I ever managed to it would certainly be down the road a ways.

If I’m wrong in my assumptions or have made a mistake in how I’ve interpreted it’s abilities from what I’ve managed to come across, my apologies.


Hi @FumbleUmble

It is true that we are working on 3D profiles (Curves on the Z axis) in Easel. That being said you can use other free tools to create this type of design. You don’t need to spend any money to get a curve with an X-Carve or Carvey. You can use Fusion 360 free of charge and then import the G-Code into Easel for free. The reason to spend money on other software is only if you don’t like the free tools available. Onshape and KiriMoto is another set of free tools you can use.

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Thanks a lot for pointing that out Zach, at least I now know there are alternatives.

There is a LOT I have to brush up on, but I have a starting place now.

Just found out about £420 duty (sore…that verges on criminal :() plus $150 shipping (expected). I have more calculations to do.

Anyway, thanks for the info, appreciated.

Check out Robosavvy they are in the UK and resell for us.

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Thanks a lot Zach :slight_smile:

(edit Lol, It works out about £50 or so dearer, at least it’s more local. :/)

Hey, I’ve just found out you’re the Top Cat.

Thanks for taking the time.

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hello Zach i am a new owner of the carvey and i have done a lot of research on how to work on it…i do have some issues regarding the depth of the bit when plungeing into material it is offset with 08mm lower then have been preset and aswell the work table “wood one” is not perfectly level “it is curved from midle” im in UK and bought the machine from Robosavvy. will they be able to offer support on this? at the moment my business is on hold due to this issues i have encountered. kind regards Vlad.

Hi @VladSeling please contact Inventables Customer Success they have some resources to help you out on this issue. You can also call them at 312-775-7009.

Just saw the date on the thread after responding to the OP :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: