About this project
UPDATE #1: Watch Jorge and Apollo pitch The Nomad to Leo Laporte on the new TWiT show, "I'd Fund That" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNqggrDxHhI
UPDATE #2: Stretch Goal Met! Every machine comes with the Flip Jig for two side machining and INNER CIRCLE pledges come with a vise. Thanks to everyone who helped us get there!
UPDATE #3: We have unlimited BUILDER level (Shipping starting in Dec) and a limited number of INNER CIRCLE level available (Shipping starting in Jan).
Turn Your Desktop Into a Workshop
With The Nomad 883 we’ve taken the guesswork out of operating a CNC machine. Everything you'll need to get started is included - software (for Mac and PC), cutters, cables, even a starter pack of material. You'll be cutting parts out on day one.
The Nomad 883 is fully enclosed to control the mess and limit the noise. You can get a Bamboo enclosure for a home or studio, or a durable HDPE enclosure for the shop or garage.
The Idea Behind The Nomad 883
We’ve been in product development for 16 years and have used all of the big digital fabrication technologies - 3D printers, CNC mills, and laser cutters (we own one of each). We know what they’re capable of and what the pitfalls are. Of the bunch, the CNC mill is the most versatile machine but it comes with a big list of flaws: it’s complicated, loud, messy, slow, and intimidating.
In spite of the drawbacks, we always turned to our CNC mill when we needed a perfect prototype.
Rob, one of our founding partners and creator of MeshCAM, brought up the idea of building our own machine from the ground up, with all the software and firmware necessary to close the gap between the usability of 3D printers and power of CNC Mills. We loved the concept, and decided to work full-time on The Nomad 883.
Hassle Free Experience
The Nomad 883 ships with MeshCAM to turn your 3D part into something a CNC mill can work with, and Carbide Motion to control the Nomad 883.
Things like feed rates, speeds, depths of cut, etc are handled automatically to reduce the learning curve associated with CNC machining.
The Nomad uses an embedded motion controller so you won’t have to dedicate a computer to control the mill like some PC-based CNC machines. Just plug the USB cable into your Mac or Windows computer and you’re ready to go.
If you have a favorite CAM program and don’t want to re-learn a new workflow, no problem. Carbide Motion can read gcode from any CAM program.
What Can You Do With The Nomad?
CNC mills are incredibly versatile, and there is almost no limit to what they can do. A better question is what CAN’T you do with The Nomad. CNC machines are at the heart of the manufacturing industry, doing everything from engraving to high-precision cutting. In short, you can really make almost anything, and here are just a few examples:
Rock-Solid Aluminum Frame
At the core of the Nomad 883 is an extruded aluminum frame. Rather than using plastic or wooden panels as structural supports, we decided to use aluminum to provide a rigid base that will let you cut a large variety of materials.
A Spindle Made For CNC
Early in the development of The Nomad we decided that trim routers or Dremels just wouldn’t do, so we designed our own spindle with a brushless DC motor and closed-loop speed controller. That means you'll have a quiet, powerful spindle that isn’t going to want to make you leave the room when the machine is running.
With the lid down and cutting wood in light passes, The Nomad is quieter than our commercial-grade 3D printer.
You’ll have no trouble cutting hardwoods, acrylic, Delrin, ABS, Renshape, machinable wax, even brass and aluminum.
To contain noise and dust, the Nomad 883 comes fully-enclosed in a bamboo or HDPE shell and a polycarbonate lid.
You can place the nomad next to your computer and work while the machine is running, without worrying about upsetting your neighbors or the guy at the next desk.
This is not a kit, this is a machine
Nomad 883 is a fully assembled turn-key machine that comes pre-tested directly from the factory. Upon arrival, you only need to unbox the machine, and plug it in. There is nothing to assemble, and no programming to be done. After installing the included software, you'll be ready to make your own parts.
If You Can Use a 3D Printer, You Can Use The Nomad
Typical CNC machines need a lot of manual setup, but The Nomad 883 has homing switches and an integrated tool length probe to take care of that for you. All of it is calibrated from the factory so you won't have to fiddle with anything.
The Nomad 883 comes with two pieces of software, Carbide Motion and MeshCAM, that work on both Mac and Windows.
Carbide Motion is the software that lets you load a part into The Nomad and cut it out. We designed it from the ground up to make things as simple as possible without limiting your control. We added a toolpath simulator so you can see what your part will look like before starting your job.
MeshCAM is a 3D CAM program that translates your 3D files into something that The Nomad can use. MeshCAM has been under continuous development for 10 years so it’s not something new we just came up with. MeshCAM has been used by thousands of users to make everything from jewelry to die cast molds and aerospace parts.
We're Here to Help
We have a dedicated content-creation team that is putting together dozens of projects and tutorials to get you started quickly, and once we get everything up and running, we’ll be adding more every week.
CNC Mills with this level of integration retail for thousands of dollars, but The Nomad gives you an affordable package without sacrificing quality. After Kickstarter The Nomad 883 will be under $2500.
We’ve spent the last nine months designing and testing this machine. Everything we’ve shown above was cut on a Nomad 883. Now we’re ready to take it to the next step - a full production order for all of our suppliers.
We’ve been buying standard parts and having custom parts made in small quantities up to now. We haven’t worried about the cost because we’ve only been making prototypes for testing.
Now we need to increase the quantity so we can get the cost down to where we think it needs to be. If the order is large enough, we’d like to hire a technician to help with assembly.
This is where Kickstarter comes in. We’d like to get everyone who’s interested in the future of digital fabrication onboard with a Nomad 883. More than just buying a machine, we’d like to have everyone join our community and help us test the code and the machine so we can make sure it lives up to its potential.
Nomad Production Plan
We're planning for a gradual ramp up in production, starting with a first batch of 10 machines and going up from there (many of the parts for the first batch are already done).
Immediately following our Kickstarter campaign, we'll begin placing orders for our long-lead-time items like bearings, motors, and PCB's. These items have a delivery time of approximately 30-45 days.
During that time, we'll be working with the local shops on the machined items. About 50% of the machined items have been through the production process by now so we know that we're looking at a lead time of about 30 days for machined parts.
We'll use the 30 day delay to work out shipping and tighten up the software.
We anticipate a first batch of approximately 10 machines to ship in August with a second batch of 20 in September, and 40 in October.
After 3 batches, we expect to have worked out any production bugs and we'll begin increasing the monthly quantity so that the bulk of the remaining orders get shipped in November.
Carbide Motion, The software needed to run the machine has been in development for several months. We've been the only users up to now so it'll probably be changed frequently based on customer feedback once we begin shipping machines.
MeshCAM, the software to plan the cutter motion based on CAD files, has been in development for 9 years and used by tens of thousands of people so we do not anticipate the need to make significant changes to support The Nomad.
Risks and challenges
We've taken our time to do lots of testing on The Nomad. We're confident that the mechanical and electrical designs are solid.
We depend on suppliers for a number of the pre-made components like motors and bearings. A number of these suppliers are in China and we've ordered several batches of parts and worked with them over the last 6 months to ensure that they're the kind of suppliers that we want to work with.
Our electronics are being built in two different local assembly shops so that we can shift from one to the other in the event that problems arise.
We make machined parts, like the frame and enclosure, at local machine shops and in our own shop. We have worked hard to make the design very manufacturable and not depend on specialty equipment available at only one shop. We can work with a variety of local suppliers if needed.
Perhaps the biggest unknown right now is the production rate. A successful Kickstarter campaign will give us greater ability to overcome any obstacles by hiring additional people or bringing more production capability in-house.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We've been on the phone with Fedex and UPS all morning and we've come to the conclusion that yes, we can.
The price of shipping itself is nearly the same as the US so we'll cover the shipping.
There will be a 10% duty/tax due when you get your machine. For instance, if you pay $1999 for the machine, it'll be a $199 tax due.
If you're OK with this, we'd love to have you as a backer. Go ahead and pledge a machine!
Please note the import duty can be as low as 5%, to BC for example, to as high as 12% to Saskatchewan.
Jorge is going to be looking into international shipping this week. If you'd like to email him with your address then we'll look into the specifics for your country. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
The included cutters are standard 1/8" shank carbide mills. We've got a US supplier to make whatever we need from US carbide blanks so ours should be really high quality and have a long life.
The spindle is ER-11 and comes with an 1/8" collet. If you want a 1/4" collet, or a metric collet, then it's a really quick thing to change and it's a standard part. We will probably offer alternatives on our store after Kickstarter but they're even available on Amazon.
The table has holes for dowel pins and threaded holes.
We'll be providing sacrificial plates that you can tape down material to as well as jigs to clamp material and flip it for 2-side machining while still keeping alignment.
We'll likely develop a more traditional vise too.
For all of the machining in the video, Apollo used double side tape and a sacrificial plate.
Once we ship, we'll document the hole locations on the table so you can develop your own jigs if desired
No, but it does look like it. The spindle motor is a 3-phase brushless motor with hall effect feedback. It is in a NEMA17 body but it is absolutely NOT a stepper motor.
We used a brushless motor to reduce wear and to get better power output in a small package. Hidden in the back of the cabinet is a custom driver board for that motor that we built from the ground up because a brushless motor is much more complicated to drive than a stepper or a DC motor.
For a small machine, that brushless spindle motor is a small, high performance, low noise way to go.
There are two pieces of software included with your machine. One piece of software will convert your 3D models into a file format The Nomad 883 can understand (MeshCAM), the other will send the converted information to your machine (Carbide Motion).
The Nomad 883 ships with MeshCAM to turn your 3D part into something a CNC mill can work with. Simply import one of the supported file formats and follow the wizard to generate your gcode.
Carbide Motion controls your machine. From Carbide Motion you can do all required actions to operate the Nomad 883 including home, start, pause, and stop the machine. Carbide Motion also sends your gcode files to the machine to be cut.
Final pricing is still being determined, but it will be somewhere in the $2299 - $2499 range.
Nothing! The Nomad 883 comes fully assembled and ready to run. You need to install the included software on your Mac or PC, plug in the power cord and the USB cable, and you are ready to go.
The Nomad 883 will work natively with your mac. No need to install or run Windows. Period.
The Nomad 883 comes with MeshCAM, a fully featured 3D CAM program. MeshCAM can import STL, DXF, BMP, JPG, PNG, and TIFF file formats. If your CAD or image program can export one of those files types (most can) then you are good to go.
MeshCAM has been tested to work with the following:
- Pro E
- Autodesk Inventor
- GIMP 2
The Nomad 883 has been tested with:
Tooling boards (Renshape)
Steel and hard metals won’t work.
The Nomad 883 uses a custom spindle and speed control designed and built specifically for the machine. The spindle speed can range from 1000RPM to 12000RPM with constant power.
The Nomad 883 uses an ER-11A collet system on the spindle. ER-11A collets can accommodate shanks ranging from 1/32" to 5/16". The Nomad 883 will ship with an 1/8" collet and 1/8" shank bits. ER-11A is a non-proprietary form factor so collets and bits can be purchased through our own store or from a variety of retailers such as amazon, mcmaster, or grainger.
Feeds and speeds are dependent on several factors such as material hardness and bit type. For common materials and bit sizes we will be providing a basic speed and feed chart for use as a starting point when machining a new material.
The Nomad 883 comes with fixturing to make both single and double sided milling operations as pain free as possible. More details about fixturing will be available as we get closer to finalizing the design.
The Nomad 883 uses 125oz/in Nema17 motors. These motors are matched to the size/speed/capability of the entire machine and have proven to be well suited for all of the materials The Nomad is capable of cutting.
No. The Nomad 883 plugs directly into regular line power, just like your computer.
All bearings on the machines are sealed and should never need re-lubricated. Occasionally wiping down the rails with a soft, debris-free cloth will help maintain smooth travel. Vacuuming up debris after a job is done will keep your machine clean and prevent any accidental buildup of material around the inside of the work area.
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