X-Carve Pro Review: Is it worth it?
If you’re like me then you are probably very intrigued by the brand new X-Carve Pro by Inventables. I still remember purchasing one of the first generation models of the X-Carve, the 500mm, which was the smallest version because I was still somewhat new to CNC technology. After a few days of tinkering, overall, I came away very impressed by what this machine from Inventables had to offer.
Now, Inventables has continued to expand and build upon their first generations of CNC machines to now, with the highly anticipated X-Carve Pro. The X-Carve has come a long way over the last decade because Inventables is no longer the only horse in the race. There are now a huge increase in companies and individuals racing to build the newest and most innovative CNC routers.
What’s new? X-Carve vs X-Carve Pro Review
Simply put, there’s a lot that has changed. Most of the differences you’ll see from the X-Carve to the X-Carve Pro are improvements that users have asked for over the last few years. Now let's take a look at what's new with the X-Carve Pro.
Precision Ball Screws
First off we’ll start with probably the most important upgrade, going from belts to ball screws. This has long been asked for by thousands of users. With belts stretching and snapping all of the time, it became very difficult to get consistent cuts.
While the precision ball screws were maybe one of the best additions, it isn’t the only one that was needed. The X-Carve Pro now has enclosed gantry rails to help protect the ball screws and rails from sawdust build-up, something that plagued previous X-Carve models. Eliminating two of the biggest design complaints from previous models was clearly a huge priority going into this upgraded version.
Go Big or Go Home: 4x4 or 4x2 Option
Although the 1000mm version of the X-Carve was a step in the right direction in terms of size, it was still undersized compared to competitors in that price range. The X-Carve Pro now comes in two sizes, 4x4 and 4x2, giving you the ideal work size area for large sheets of material. By using the Easel software’s “tiling” feature you can now work on seamlessly work on much larger X-Carve projects such as 4x8 sheets.
Good news for X-Carve users everywhere, long gone is the Dewalt 611 router/spindle. The X-Carve Pro now features an air-cooled spindle designed for long and detailed carves. Equipped with a 2-hp (1.5kW) spindle, the upgraded Pro spindle can reach speeds of 8,000 to 24,000 RPM. Accurate to within .001 inches, this spindle includes an ER11A collet for ¼ and ⅛ bits.
Along with these upgrades, the X-Carve Pro comes with a very sleek, all-black design. The modern design is certainly one that will help make it stand out from competitors.
What hasn’t changed from X-Carve to X-Carve Pro?
Although there were a lot of changes and upgrades from previous models to the X-Carve Pro, there were still plenty of features that went untouched. Inventables seemed more than comfortable with their previous X-Controller, which is their 3D carving motion controller. The X-Controller still features an easily accessible emergency stop button to prevent crashes and accidents from occurring.
Along the same lines as the X-Controller, the NEMA-23 Stepper Motors are here to stay. So don’t expect any more power and speed from the previous models of the X-Carve. I also wouldn’t expect any more rigidity from the rails and gantry’s as they are still the same powder-coated aluminum frames. Don’t expect to be cutting steel or anything harder than aluminum when it comes to cutting materials.
The included accessories are essentially the same. Some of the included items are the drag chain, z-probe, dust control, clamp set, and tool kit. Along with those items is the Easel Pro subscription. A 3-year subscription is included with the X-Carve Pro.
Probably the most dreaded issue with the X-Carve and X-Carve Pro is the assembly. The assembly of one of these machines can take days and sometimes hours depending on your experience. Another issue, that seems to be an Inventables problem, is that they will ship different sections of the machine at different times. Meaning you won’t receive all of your necessary items for assembly at the same time.
What we like about the X-Carve Pro
Overall, there is a lot to like about the newly expanded X-Carve Pro from Inventables. The larger working area makes it ideal for those wanting to start a small business, whether you are making furniture or other CNC router projects. Touted as a money-making machine, the X-Carve Pro claims to be faster and more accurate than previous models.
The upgrade from belts to ball screws seems like the biggest win for the X-Carve Pro. Precision ball screws allow for a much smoother and repeatable carve compared to the unreliable belts from previous models.
Add in the Air-Cooled Spindle, and now the X-Carve Pro is truly a professional machine equipped with features similar in nature to industrial-sized machines. It doesn’t stop there, this machine can also work with much larger materials, essentially making it comparable to a 4x8 CNC Router, thanks to Easel Pro software. Easel Pro software easily allows you to convert DXF files into toolpaths with just the click of a button.
What we don’t like about the X-Carve Pro
Although the X-Carve Pro has many new features that we think users will really love, there is still a lot left to be desired. One of the biggest issues facing Inventables is the price. At just under $8k, the machine is in the much higher-end price range compared to other CNC routers on the market. Similar 4x4 and 4x2 CNC routers will go for much less, with essentially the same features included. Compare the X-Carve Pro to the Shapeoko and you will see a major gap in the price.
The aluminum frame still leaves a lot to be desired and will require a table or desktop that is extremely rigid. Many machines in the same price range and size offer a cast iron base to eliminate any movement when machining, overall increasing the rigidity of the machine. The X-Carve Pro still includes similar traits from previous models that required adding stiffeners to reduce vibration and flexing during machining.
Another issue facing this machine can be put in one word, assembly. For a machine in this price range, you wouldn’t expect to be spending an entire weekend assembling and tinkering to get a machine just right. The new sleek design just isn’t enough to compensate for these flaws. Overall, when comparing the X-Carve Pro vs Stepcraft CNC you will be able to see why we have some concerns with the cost. You can check out our Stepcraft CNC review here.
Is the X-Carve Pro worth it?
In my personal opinion, no it isn’t worth the price tag. Although Inventables offers a great product and customer service, there just isn’t enough there to be priced so high. For the same price as the 4x4 cnc router, you could add 2-3 similar sized machines with essentially the same features and specs.
However, if you are completely new to CNC technology and are looking for something that doesn’t require knowledge of tools and CNC programming then this machine could be perfect for you. The Easel Pro software is easy to use and requires very little experience to get quality cuts. We think this machine is ideal for those with disposable income and little to no knowledge of CNC machining.
If you are someone with intermediate to advanced skills and knowledge then this machine isn’t for you. There are much better options in this price range for those who want to cut faster and more efficiently without breaking the bank.
Overall, we think it’s best to look at all the options and make a decision based on your needs and skill level.