Kickstarting a portable CNC mill you bring to the job

Handibot is a novel design for a CNC device that you can pick up and carry to the job, allowing you to mill materials in situ. The creators, who’ve blown through their funding goal, have designed a tool that runs off apps on your mobile device that control it, and envision an open-source ecosystem of… READ THE REST

When you do a blog post about a cool new bicycle, do you say “This thing looks like a lot of fun, assuming you don’t fall off and break your neck, this is a bicycle”?

Ok, I’ll ask it. What does CNC stand for?

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Computer Numerical Control. It describes a mill or other tool used for wood or metal (or other machinable material) work that is controlled by a computer.

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That pocket mortise looked intriguing until I realized it was using a router as it cutting tool. Rounded mortises are nice, and this tool certainly has some good applications, but I don’t see it being a world changing thing for me.

Assuming this thing can work with metal, too… it’s very useful. Think of it as a subtractive 3D printer.

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It looks really, really good! Add a chainsaw, some gyros and some clever positioning software rather than jigs and you’re well into some serious toys!

I wouldn’t expect this device to handle metals very well, simply because of the size/weight. Likely able to handle aluminum, but really this is geared for wood and MDF products like Medite 3D.

“Hey dude, get the bot set up on the door jambs. I’m gonna go get some coffee.”

This will be absolutely a huge hit with carpenters and cabinetmakers. It also creates a whole new industry of add on (or subtract out) decorative detailing in new or old housing.

Modernism was derived from a need for quickly reproducible goods at a low enough price for a mass audience. Hence simplicity and streamlined design became synonymous with ethical and democratic principles.

A new ethos is emerging based upon a different set of ethical and practical needs. Aside from the technology, entrepreneurship has become a necessity in a world with fewer and fewer jobs. Entrepreneurship suggests invention and innovation in a way that employment never did. Niche finding, creating and exploiting are part of the new paradigm.

So decoration returns. He has invented a new piano. He now needs to find a Beethoven to blow away his audience. His presentation is really good though, unpretentious and well grounded.

Interesting little machine, to be sure. I’d like to see more about the mounting system for the wall and ceiling work he alluded to, though. Sitting flat like that, you might as well just use a standard CNC router. The big thing that stands in its way is the software. He mentioned a drive for developers to make simplified apps for it, and I think that’s absolutely necessary.

The learning curve for traditional CAD/CAM is very steep. Things like V-carving, as the machine was doing in the video, are fairly easy, but when you start doing reliefs, it gets hard in a hurry. Customers will demand more than a simple catalog of basic designs, so the software is key to delivering what they want. Otherwise, you wind up depending on CNC programmers, and they’re not exactly common or cheap.

“Handibot”… didn’t they have one of those on an episode of “Big Bang Theory,” and Howard ended up in the ER when it wouldn’t let go? (Safe for primetime network TV, I don’t know about your workplace.)

Seriously though, this tech sounds really promising. The arthritis in my hands is getting worse every year, and economical CNC milling machines and 3D printing give me hope for being able to make stuff again.

I saw Dave demo this at MakerFaire NC in Raleigh a couple of weeks ago. (ShopBot is located in nearby Durham.) I think the coolest things about this is that it can be used on material far bigger than what any current CNC machine can hold, and with indexing jigs and the right apps, it could repeat (tile) a pattern, or do a huge pattern in sections. Imagine a 4 by 8 foot 3D carved sign, or a 3D pattern for a vacuum-molded car-body panel, or…

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