Inventables Announces Availability of Open Source CNC Mill Kits

Inventables, Inc. today announced the launch of Shapeoko, the world’s first CNC milling machine kit capable of creating precision parts and models from plastic, wood and metal for less than $650. Inventors and designers can use the Shapeoko, an open source, low-cost desktop computer numerical control (CNC) mill, to bring their imagination and computer designs to life.

“The laser printer enabled desktop publishing when laser printers reached the $650 price point in the 1980’s. As manufacturing tools like the Shapeoko kits become increasingly affordable, we are experiencing the beginning of the era of desktop manufacturing,” said Zach Kaplan, CEO of Inventables. “Similar to the desktop publishing revolution, we are seeing the rebirth of American manufacturing as manufacturing tools become dramatically less expensive. The combination of free, easily accessible open-source software and online storefronts like Amazon, eBay and Etsy providing a marketplace for manufactured goods is fueling this growth in manufacturing and entrepreneurism.”

Inventables offers three Shapeoko kits (Mechanical, Full and Premium), each of which requires assembly. The Mechanical kit, which costs $199, is designed for experienced CNC machine builders who will add electronics and modify the kit to get it running and suit their needs. The Full kit, which costs $649, includes everything necessary to create a working machine, including tools and electrical components. It is designed for people who are comfortable completing the build but want to source their own materials and tool bits to use with the machine.

The Premium kit includes the Full kit as well as materials and milling bits for machining parts. The Premium kit was designed for people who are comfortable rolling up their sleeves to complete the build and want all the materials and tools needed to use the machine included in one kit. This $999 kit includes markers and card stock that can replace the milling bits while operators learn how to use the CNC mill and software. This technique allows learning without the risk of injury from the high speeds of the spindle. Once comfortable, operators can replace the markers and cardstock with the set of traditional milling bits and materials included with the kit to perform CNC milling.

No machining is required with the Shapeoko kits. If you can tighten a bolt, you can assemble the Shapeoko. While assembly is very simple, machine operators must be 18 years or older, or supervised by an adult. Inventables is accepting pre-orders for the Shapeoko kits April 2-April 22, 2012 and the kits are expected to ship by June 22, 2012. Inventables will issue full refunds if less than 150 orders are placed.

The Shapeoko kits are the creation of Edward Ford, an Illinois-based inventor who builds CNC machines and spends time with open hardware and open source software projects.

Founded in 2002, Inventables’ mission is to enable an R&D lab on every desktop. Recognized as the online hardware store for DIY manufacturing, Inventables sells thousands of materials in small quantities. Small manufacturing businesses purchase raw materials and machines from Inventables’ online store daily to use in manufacturing their own products from jewelry to joysticks to sell to customers. When a material from the site is needed in a large volume, Inventables assists in making connections to the manufacturer or supplier.

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