Pocket NC P5 five-axis CNC milling machine (via Pocket NC)
Sure, 3D printers are cool, but don’t forget about traditional machining. If CNC milling machines are your fancy, keep an eye out for the Pocket NC P5, a BeagleBone-powered five-axis desktop CNC milling machine that will launch on Kickstarter this Fall.
While it seems that 3D printers are taking over the world, it’s a hard bet that they’ll replace the function of the CNC milling machine for some time. These monstrous machines are largely the device of choice for manufacturers because of their ability to accurately and precisely shape and cut various materials, including steel, plastic and glass. If you’re a DIY maker or tinkerer, you may have missed the opportunity to work on one of these handy devices because there are only a handful of affordable desktop units on the market. Also, most desktop CNC milling machines currently available are only three-axis, which limits what makers are able to create. The Pocket NC P5, however, seeks to change all that.
The Pocket NC P5 will be one of the first affordable at-home, desktop five-axis CNC milling machines to hit the market. It seeks to give users more freedom of design without compromising on the precision one would expect with this hefty machine. Pocket NC intends to sell the unit for $3500 and claims that the quality of production is good enough to manufacture commercially.
Machine work done by the P5 (via Pocket NC)
The Pocket NC P5 features a high quality linear car and rail systems that moves in increments of 0.0005in, ensuring precision. The working space itself is 5in wide by 3.85in tall while the 28lb machine sits at 13in wide by 9.5in tall and 9in deep, not including full extension.
The Pocket NC P5 features 1/8th inch end mills, USB input, a 104-Watt output spindle and 62-10,000rpm that is adjustable in increments of 10 rpm while maintaining near constant torque. The machine also features a lever to safely and quickly change tools and is powered by the BeagleBone Black microcomputer.
P5 in action (via Pocket NC)
Pocket NC believes that desktop CNC milling machines that offer commercial-level quality can greatly ease the demand on the manufacturing industry for making prototypes and filling small orders. They’ve got a lot of work to do in order to ignite the fire needed to make their vision a reality, but the Pocket NC team is well on their way.
Pocket NC first unveiled its P5 prototype at the World Maker Faire in New York in 2013 and is well on its way to completing its final product. In late July, the Pocket NC team reported the purchase of a Haas Minimill 2 to help with production and almost-seamless connectivity to the BeagleBone Black microcomputer, which powers the whole shebang.
Haas Minimill 2 arrival at Pocket NC HQ (via Pocket NC)
The last step in testing the milling machines is ensuring streamlined function with CAD/CAM software. For this, PocketNC has been working hand-in-hand with Autodesk to ensure the post processor on the machine syncs up with Autodesk software. The Montana start-up said it selected Autodesk because of the affordable CAD/CAM solutions the software giant offers.
Pocket NC must successfully complete its next round of testing before it officially launches its Kickstarter campaign, but there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the home-based device. If all goes as planned, the Pocket NC P5 five-axis CNC milling machine will launch its Kickstarter campaign this Fall and ship to backers as early as Winter 2015. Stay tuned folks.
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