I was excited last week when I saw the announcement for the Shapeoko Pro. Yesterday, I saw the preview of the upcoming X-Carve Pro from Inventables, and I was blown away.
The X-Carve Pro isn’t just an upgrade over the hobby-grade X-Carve CNC machine. This is a much more expensive machine built to compete with some very expensive hardware from other companies.
The Shapeoko vs. the X-Carve
When I was shopping for a CNC router for my garage, I quickly narrowed my choices down to these two machines. At the time, the X-Carve had the advantage in price if you were comparing both companies’ smaller models, but as far as I can tell, Inventables now only sells the X-Carve model that is roughly the size of the Shapeoko XXL.
At a glance, the Shapeoko and X-Carve are comparable machines using the same sorts of stepper motors, pulleys, and belts to move a router around the table, and they both use the same router. What made me choose the Shapeoko?
I need to start working with wood. The Shapeoko just plows through this stuff like butter! pic.twitter.com/vF2yNFejNd— Pat Regan (@patsheadcom) September 1, 2020
The aluminum extrusions that support the X and Y axes of the Shapeoko are significantly beefier than the extrusions used on the X-Carve. Is that necessary? Probably not, but both machines have similar specs on everything else.
The Shapeoko XXL is a few hundred dollars cheaper, it has a stronger frame, and the work area is a few inches bigger. It seemed like a no-brainer, and I’ve been quite happy with my Shapeoko!
I’m sure the X-Carve is a fine machine, but this is why I made my choice.
Would I buy an X-Carve Pro?
These new X-Carve models are more comparable to my friend Jeremy Cook’s Romaxx CNC router. Jeremy’s CNC router looks like it might be a bit bigger than my Shapeoko XXL, but it is built more like the X-Carve Pro.
The fact is these machines are outside of my price range. Could I afford to buy one? Sure! Would I make effective use of one? Hell no!
My knowledge of CNC routers ends as you leave the price range of the Shapeoko and the original X-Carve. The speed and precision of aluminum extrusions and belt drives is all I need. Unfortunately, this means I have absolutely no idea which machines the new X-Carve Pro is competing with!
I would get more bang for my buck pairing up a Carbide 3D Nomad and a Shapeoko. I’d use the tiny Nomad when working with metal and my Shapeoko XXL for larger, softer materials.
I would like a CNC router that is 4’ wide!
My Shapeoko XXL has a working area that is about 32” wide. The original X-Carve is a few inches narrower.
Full sheets of plywood and MDF from Lowes and The Home Depot are 4’ wide and 8’ long. These just won’t fit in my CNC router.
Either of the new X-Carve Pro models can work with uncut sheets of plywood. You’ll have to move the sheet forward three times to cut a large object on the smaller X-Carve Pro, but at least you can do it, right?!
Even though this would be nice, I wouldn’t use it often enough to justify the price.
The preorder pricing for the X-Carve Pro is quite a bit lower. The X-Carve Pro 4x4 is only $6,495 and the 4x2 is $5,495. As far as I can tell, that’s a fantastic deal, and you’d be getting a lot of machine for your money!
What do you think? Would you pay $6,500 to put an X-Carve Pro in your garage, or is it overkill for you? These new machines are definitely targeted at professional work. Is your company planning on buying an X-Carve Pro? I’d love to hear whether you’re buying one, and what you’re planning to use it for! If you’re sticking with something belt driven like the original X-Carve or the Shapeoko, I’d like to hear why! Tell me about it in the comments, or stop by the Butter, What?! Discord server to chat with me about it!