Coming soon to the maker market near you: Carvey, a desktop CNC mill that just got fully funded on Kickstarter overnight.
Like your standard CNC mill, Carvey allows architects, jewelry designers, and various hobbyists to design and build small-scale products with a digitally programmed cutter. They design or pull from a bank of designs shared by others on Easel, a software that features a materials library that knows to adjust the cutter’s bit size and feed rate according to what you’re working with — woods, corks, plastics, soft metals, circuit boards, or linoleum. Now you’ve got maquettes, engraved jewelry, and other custom objects at a greater speed and with a wider array of materials than 3D printing would allow.
Glossing over the fact that CNC milling is an old technology, Carvey appeals to a younger generation of makers through sexed up marketing — namely these frequent 3D printing comparisons. Unlike other desktop CNC mills that have been launched in recent years, Carvey comes enclosed in a slick aluminum black box outfitted with a transparent glass door. It looks just like a 3D printer, which is the biggest hype machine we have these days. And to further bolster the comparison and distance their product from the old-school woodshop connotations of the CNC mill (which Quartz refers to as “an unbankable name”), Carvey’s makers use the newer terms “subtractive manufacturing” and “3D carver.”
Note that that’s a bit of a misnomer, however; Easel only handles carving in 2.5D. The distinction is in the movement of the cutter. Carving in 2.5D means the cutter moves left to right or up and down at any moment, while true 3D carving can do both simultaneously. So, for a project requiring more intricate contours — say, this topographical map of Colorado featured on Carvey’s Kickstarter page — you’ll need a more advanced software.
Carvey is scheduled to fully launch in October 2015. Happy subtracting.