What is the Pocket NC?
The Pocket NC is a 5 axis desktop CNC mill.
Now let’s break down exactly what that means:
Milling Machine: Today, most people are familiar with the concept of 3D printing which is an additive manufacturing process. The part is built up from the base by adding a layer of material at a time. Milling is a subtractive process where material is removed from a solid piece of stock using a sharp tool to reveal the part inside.
CNC: CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. This means that the machine is controlled by a series of codes and numbers output by a computer. These codes can either be output by software, or written line-by-line in a text file. For more information on the software you need, keep reading.
5 Axis: If you are having a hard time visualizing what “5 axis” could mean, don’t worry. It’s a lot more simple than it sounds. Conventional milling machines typically can move in 3 linear axes at a time. An example of this would be a milling machine where the part fixed to the table can move back and forth in two directions (X and Y axes) and the cutting tool can move up and down (Z axis). The extra 2 axes of movement are rotational, which for the Pocket NC means that the part can also rotate about the X axis (A axis) and about the Y axis (B axis). The main advantage of this is that you can now machine on multiple faces of the part without having to refixture it.
As a husband and wife team, we have been working hard for over 4 years to develop the Pocket NC. Along the way we have built up our team to fill in our knowledge and skill gaps. As makers and tinkerers ourselves, our passion is to bring an affordable 5 axis machine to the market that is capable of creating quality parts so that others can be enabled to iterate on their designs without the high costs of sending parts out to a machine shop.
This process has taken us through 3 different machine controllers and 5 iterations of our hardware. What this means for our backers is that not only have we brought the machine to a high level of functionality, but we have also taken the time to design the machine for manufacturability. These prototype iterations have also given us the opportunity to test out our supply chain and avoid unreliable suppliers before they become a problem in production. This has also given us the time to seek out as many components as we can that are made here in the USA, and to find local contractors for our anodizing, electronics fabrication, and packaging. Along with spending these years getting the machine ready for production, we have also been building up a shop to support that. We have a Haas Mini Mill 2 ready to mill our frames and have the practice of assembling 15 prototypes. To see more of the story of how far we've come over the past couple of years, check out our blog.
What materials can you cut?
You can cut materials with hardnesses up to that of aluminum. This includes wax, wood, and plastics.
Each machine reward tier will include the following:
- Pocket NC 5 Axis Desktop CNC Mill (fully assembled)
- Power Cord
- Ethernet Cord
- Blunt Tool
- End Mill
- 90 day limited warranty
- Autodesk® Fusion 360™ 1 year commercial license
We will NOT be providing an enclosure or coolant system. If you want to use coolant, an oil-based mist coolant will work fine.
Machines will ship in Pocket NC packaging, but after the campaign is complete you will have the option to upgrade to a Pelican case if you wish.
X Axis · Max Speed: 40 ipm (inches per minute) · Resolution: 0.000125in · Backlash at 100% load : 0.003in · Max Travel: 4.5 in · Homing Repeatability: - +/-0.0005 in · Repeatability: +/-0.002 in at 0% load
Y Axis · Max Speed: 40 ipm (inches per minute) · Resolution: 0.000125 in · Backlash at 100% load : 0.003 in · Max Travel: 4.8 in · Homing Repeatability: - +/-0.0005 in · Repeatability: +/-0.002 in at 0% load
Z Axis · Max Speed: 40 ipm (inches per minute) · Resolution: 0.000125in · Backlash at 100% load : 0.003in · Max Travel: 3.45 in · Homing Repeatability: - +/-0.0005 in · Repeatability: +/-0.002 in at 0% load
A Axis · Max Speed: 20 degrees/second · Resolution: 0.025 degrees · Backlash at 100% load : 0.05 degrees · Max Travel: 100 degrees (90 degrees +/- 5 degrees) · Homing Repeatability: - +/-0.025 degrees · Repeatability: +/-0.025 degrees at 0% load
B Axis · Max Speed: 40 degrees/second · Resolution: 0.025 degrees · Backlash at 100% load : 0.05 degrees · Max Travel: continuous rotation · Homing Repeatability: - +/-0.025 degrees · Repeatability: +/-0.025 degrees at 0% load
Spindle · Spindle Speed: 65-10,000 rpm (rated to 50,000 rpm) Runout 0.000078in, Lever type tool change (no wrenches necessary)
Tooling: 1/8in or 3mm shank
Power Output: 104 Watts · Spindle Motor: BLDC 3 Phase with Hall Feedback
Machine Control · BeagleBone Black running Machinekit/LinuxCNC, compatible with Windows, OSx, and Linux systems
Features: Spindle Override, Feed Override, Stop, Start, Pause, Jog while pause, 5 axis simultaneous movement ·
Accepts Standard Gcode ·
Power Source: 90-264 VAC, 127-370 VDC, 47-63Hz
Components · 7 NEMA 17 Motors, 3 linear lead screws with preloaded nuts, 4 rotary 8/1 belt drives, Linear Bearings 9 & 42mm 10% preload, Angular contact rotary bearings, 6061 Aluminum Frame, +/-0.002in squareness
Machine Dimensions: Fully extended: 17.5 in wide(444.5 mm) x 12.5 in (317.5 mm) tall x 11 in (279.4 mm) deep Fully compressed: 13 in wide (330.2 mm) x 9.5 in (214.3 mm) tall x 9 in (228.6 mm) deep
Overall part tolerance: +/-0.005 in
The typical process flow for creating a part using the Pocket NC would be to draw your part using CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, generate the toolpath using CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software, and then interface with the machine to send over and monitor the toolpath.
We are excited to be partnering with Autodesk to offer our Kickstarter backers a free, one-year commercial subscription to Autodesk® Fusion 360™ (Limited time offer; subject to applicable terms and conditions.) Fusion 360 is cloud-based design software that includes both CAD and CAM. One of the large barriers for 5 axis machining is that CAM software capable of 5 axis toolpaths is typically prohibitively expensive, but Fusion 360 package offers 3+2 machining which gives the user the ability to use the rotary axes to rotate to a new work surface between toolpaths. After the one-year period is over, Fusion 360 is free for enthusiasts, hobbyists, and startups and is compatible with Windows and OSx.
If you have a different CAD/CAM combination that you’d like to use, Pocket NC accepts standard G code so that won’t be a problem. In some cases, a post processor will need to be generated. We will do our best to facilitate that as needed for our users.
Timeline Is there anywhere else I can learn more about Pocket NC?
You are always welcome to check out our website, www.pocketnc.com where we also have a blog documenting our development process over the past couple of years.
If you have questions about the machine and the campaign, our Google Groups forum would be a great place to start.
Watch our videos on YouTube.
Or keep up to date on any of our social media platforms:
Risks and challenges
While we have done our best to prepare ourselves, our machine design, and our supply chain for production, this will be Pocket NC’s first venture into commercial manufacturing. We recognize that we still have a lot of learning to do when it comes to optimizing our manufacturing process, running our business, and training new employees.
We also have a limited number of components including the spindles that will need to be produced overseas and shipped to us for assembly which will pose a risk for delays. Fortunately, the majority of the machine can be assembled without those components.
- (28 days)