Modifying the X-Carve - Part 1 Adding more Z-Depth

In recent weeks I've become more interested in milling three dimensional molds Using Fusion 360.  At Hammerspace I have access to two 3 axis mills, my personal 1 meter square Inventables X-Carve, and a 8 foot by 10 foot frankenstein of a machine that I've taken to calling 'The Beast'.  

 'The Beast' in action at Hammerspace.  This CNC is so big and heavy, they had to build an extension to the workshop around it.

'The Beast' in action at Hammerspace.  This CNC is so big and heavy, they had to build an extension to the workshop around it.

The Beast had a cutting area of approximately 10 feet x 8 feet x 2.5 inches deep. It is really more of what is called a 2.5D CNC machine, intended for cutting slots and tabs in sheet material like plywood and aluminum.  This machine had been lobotomized and rebuilt around a Mach3 controller, so it is capable running G-Code directly from Fusion 360.  I'm going to use The Beast for some of my experiments, but to mill anything more then 2.5" tall, I'll need a different tool.

The X-Carve is an inexpensive tabletop CNC carver intended for enthusiast and light duty work. It's working area is 3.2 feet x 3.2 feet x 2.75". The X-Carve has its quirks, but i've had good luck running 3 dimensional G-Code exported from Fusion 360 on it.  Like The Beast, this machine is intended to be a 2.5D carver, but with a few advantages.  This is my personal machine, so I can freely make modifications to it, and the X-Carve is open source, so all the files and drawings for it are available on Inventables GrabCAD page.

For the first stage of the Modifications to this machine, I'm going to add more z-clearance between the bottom of the X-Carve's gantry and its spoil board.

The easiest way to do this, is to replace the four corner brackets at that connect the Makerslide rails to the spoilboard's frame with taller one.  I downloaded the drawings for the original brackets from GrabCAD, and added three inches to their height in Fusion 360. The new brackets were cut out of 1/4 inch thick aluminum plate on The Beast. If you'd like to create your own extra tall brackets, you can download the DXF files for them HERE

 The new X-Carve Brackets add 3 inches to the Z-Height of the gantry.

The new X-Carve Brackets add 3 inches to the Z-Height of the gantry.

 A Big Thanks to Tom Newell of Sainsmart and Oni Technologies for doing the cutting for me! Cutting plate aluminum is still a bit out of my wheelhouse.

To tell the story of installing this modification, I've made a short youtube video to take you through the steps.

 

Until next time, when we'll adjust the reach of the Z-Axis to take advantage of all that newly added depth.

Thanks for Reading!

-Michael