The Ultimate Upgrade

I’ve already gone the route of customizing a machine (linear bearings, bigger motors, etc), but eventually went to a stock X-Carve (mainly to stop fiddling with breakages). However, the upgrade bug has bitten me again, and I started jotting down every mod I could think of to end up with an “ultimate” machine (i.e. one that I wouldn’t want to upgrade further). I’m curious if there is a pretty set path for upgrading or if some of the ideas I’ve jotted down here aren’t ideal:

  1. Replace Maker rails with heavier, non-V extrusions (due to using linear rails). Who makes the best non-V rails?
  2. Replace belts with linear rails (thinking Hiwin…I used the cheaper round bar versions on eBay, but the V wheels are actually smoother
  3. Replace steppers with ClearPath servos.
  4. Extrusion bed (is this swappable for a laser-safe one? Ideally, I’d to have a Z carriage where I could easily swap out spindle with laser, etc.
  5. 4th and 5th axis. Seen an integrated one as well as two-part (lathe and rotating Z).
  6. 5axis-capable controller (Masso?)
  7. Spindle…I’ve got a Dewalt with SuperPID sitting in a really sweet custom controller box I built, but if I want to also cut metal, would I be better off getting a spindle (and just a spindle), or would I want to swap between the two? And then I’d also want a laser head as well.
  8. Z-carriage upgrade
  9. Ball screws…let’s say precision ground just since I said “ultimate”.
  10. Vacuum
  11. Coolant
  12. Automatic tool changer

I was pricing that stuff out, trying to be generous with the padding and came up with about $5k for this rig, which seems maybe a bit low for an “ultimate CNC”, but I hadn’t included a spindle and ATC at the time.

Keep dreaming, there will always be something you want to improve.

So, what parts of the X-Carve are you thinking about keeping? I didn’t spot any.

It sounds like you’re in a loop of:

  1. Start with X-Carve
  2. Upgrade all the parts and build a new CNC, put spare parts in closet
  3. Realize that you’ve got enough spare parts in your closet to rebuild the original X-Carve
  4. Go back to step 1
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You could buy a way better machine for $5k - don’t do it to yourself. Look at open builds extrusion. I made a ballscrew version of the open builds ‘sphinx’ for a fraction of that price. I know it sounds harsh, but that really just sounds like a massive waste of time and money, and as Steve said, what part of it is left as a xcarve>?

The point of the exercise is to come up with the endpoint of every possible upgrade. It doesn’t need to be an X-Carve any more, and the X-Carve parts would be given away, so I’m not really concerned with various negative scenarios. I just want (or wanted…there’s not really much in this thread) to have an idea of what the best upgrades are in terms of an “ultimate machine”. The machine is fictional. I’m not spending $5k on a machine, as I don’t have a need for the machine I described, as cool as it is. Was just looking for SATSQ.

DMS 5 Axis router

Thanks for the model information. I’m curious about that machine, though - what makes it better than one you could build yourself from best-of parts (assuming the parts I listed above are best-of)?

FYI, this started as an exercise in coming up with logical endpoints for various upgrades but I’m having a hell of a time shaking the desire to make a completely separate machine (not even an upgrade…from scratch 5 axis). My current thinking is to bypass the notion of upgrade altogether and actually build this as a complete machine. Mainly because going to servos is expensive, so I’d want 1 motor per axis, leading back to my first machine’s design where X and Y are swapped, and the bed moves up and down as X. And then, the rotational axis I was looking at really needs to be hung from the (new) Y in addition to the whole thing really needing beefier extrusions.
So whereas this thread was really trying to get the ultimate upgrade for each part of the machine, for my purposes, it’s now really an ultimate home machine, sans X-Carve.