X-Carve Pro Review: Worth it or Overpriced [2021]?

X-Carve Pro Review: Worth it or Overpriced [2021]?

X-Carve Pro Review: Worth it or Overpriced [2021]?

Launched in 2021, the X-Carve Pro is the latest CNC machine offering from Inventables.

Inventables has two CNCs on the market currently.

The first is the X-Carve, which is intended primarily for hobbyists. The second and newer one is the X-Carve Pro.

The X-Carve Pro has been tailored primarily for small businesses and comes in two sizes, 4’x2’ and 4’x4’.

In this review, I take a deep look at the X-Carve Pro going through every aspect of the CNC router to tell you everything you need to know.

X-Carve Pro Review

I divided this review into multiple important sections so that you get a thorough understanding of what this CNC router offers.

1. Size of X-Carve Pro

X-Carve Pro size versions
X-Carve Pro size versions
X-Carve Pro Size4' x 2' version4' x 4' version
Work area48’’ x 24’’ x 4’’48’’ x 48’’ x 4’’
Machine Footprint65.75’’ x 31.6’’65.75’’ x 55.75’
Weight~275 lbs~300 lbs

Summary of the size of X-Carve Pro variants

X-Carve Pro 4’ x 2’: The 4 x 2 version has a footprint of 65.75” x 31.6” with a work area of 4’ x 2’. It weighs around 275 lbs.

X-Carve Pro 4’ x 4’: You get a work area of 4’ x 4’ on the 4x4 version and it requires a space of 65.75” x 55.75” on your table and weighs around 300 lbs.

Note that you will need a table with a bit more size than the footprint of this desktop CNC router.

This is because you need some space to keep the controller and interface.

Inventables recommends a work table of 6' x 6' for the 4' x 4' version and a work table of 6' x 3' for the 4' x 2' version.

You can also place the controller under the table as you only need the Human Machine Interface (HMI) to control X-Carve.

This will save you some table space.

Since both versions have four feet width, you can fit a 4x8 sheet inside both provided you can support the length of the sheet on the work table.

This combined with the tiling feature of Easel Pro lets you work on 4x8 sheets without having an actual 4x8 CNC router.

Tiling feature lets you mill a large material sheet in parts (tiles) by moving the material manually after each tile is milled.

Both versions of the X-Carve Pro have a Z-axis clearance of 5” and allows you to process workpieces with up to 4” thickness.

If X-Carve Pro is too expensive for your budget, you can consider X-Carve CNC router instead.

2. Material Capability

The X-Carve Pro is an entry-level professional CNC router and it can process a variety of materials.

You can cut soft materials like plywood, softwood, hardwood, MDF, plastics, HDPE, Delrin, polycarbonate, acrylic, and Corian among others.

4 x 8 wall decoration made on X-Carve Pro
4 x 8 wall decoration made on X-Carve Pro

It can also cut non-ferrous metals like aluminum, brass, and copper.

However, you’ll have to use lubricants and the right tool for cutting metals optimally.

Sometimes lubricants can seep down into the MDF wasteboard thereby soaking it, so you have that to consider.

Even at this price, you'd find it difficult to mill steel and you're better off buying a benchtop CNC mill if that's your goal.

While cutting soft materials, it can achieve a feed rate of around 162 inches per minute (ipm) for a ¼” depth-of-cut.

For perspective, the Avid CNC Pro 4x8 router can go beyond 300 inches per minute for the same cut, making it quicker than X-Carve Pro.

For cutting metals, expect the feed rates to be lower than half the feed rate for soft materials.

X-Carve Pro can do 3D carving but the Easel software that comes with it is not capable of designing 3D objects.

You will have to rely on other 3D CAD/CAM software to generate the G-code for 3D carving and then use Easel Pro to run the G-code.

3. Chassis/Frame of X-Carve Pro

The chassis has good rigidity and is made of powder-coated aluminum C-bars. 

The frames are made of thick aluminum beams and this prevents any flexing when under load.

The quality of the build is quite good and gives you repeatability of 0.001 inches. 

The entire frame is powder-coated which gives it a premium look.

Powder coating ensures that the frame is corrosion resistant and will have a long life even under harsh conditions.

The work bed is made of MDF with threaded inserts and T-slots that allow you to use the common work holding methods.

A useful feature of the X-carve Pro is the leveling feet on the four corners which allows you to individually adjust the height of each corner to get a perfectly level work bed.

However, the leveling feet reduce the area of contact of the machine with the table.

This can sometimes affect vibration damping which is important for the accuracy of any CNC router.

Another good thing about the design is that all of the components are enclosed, which protects them from dust and also gives the machine a sleek look.

The chassis is stronger and rigid than the regular X-Carve CNC router.

4. Linear Motion in X-Carve Pro

All three axes use a ball screw drive system. Ball screw drive systems have less backlash than lead screw drive mechanisms.

X-Carve Pro uses 25 mm rods for the ball screws which is quite strong and adds to the overall rigidity of the machine.

The ball screws on the X-axis are hidden between the C-shaped aluminum bars which prevent debris from getting on to it.

Ball screws on X-Carve Pro
Ball screws on X-Carve Pro

The Y-axis ball screws are located underneath the gantry assembly, meaning you cannot access it once it is assembled, which is great as the dust and debris also can’t get to it.

The gantry is supported by two linear rails on the X-axis. The Y-axis uses single thick linear rails on the outside of the chassis.  

The placement of the linear rails on the outside prevents dust from covering the linear rails and also makes them easy to assemble.

5. Spindle in X-Carve Pro

The kit for the X-Carve Pro includes a proprietary spindle included.

This is a fully functional CNC spindle, an upgrade from the router that the X-carve uses.

Spindle on X-Carve Pro
Spindle on X-Carve Pro

It is a 2 hp unit with a variable speed between 8000-24,000 RPM and is air-cooled.

You can use it for long durations without worrying about damaging the spindle, which is an advantage of cooled spindles. 

The spindle in the X-Carve Pro is a major upgrade over the Dewalt router that comes with X-Carve.

This is because spindles can work for extended periods of time compared to routers which get heated up quickly.

The spindle is paired with a pre-programmed VFD that lets you control the speed of the spindle through the control software.

If you want to use a custom spindle of your own, choose a spindle that fits on the mount of the X-Carve Pro.

You get an ER-16 A collet with integrated ¼” and ⅛” collets that allow you to use tools with a shank diameter between 0.118” and 0.276”.

The kit also includes a ¼’’ high-speed 2-flute upcut bit as an end mill, a V-bit with a ¼’’  shank, and a planing bit.

If you want to use other end mills, you can visit the shop section of Inventables as they provide a large number of carving bits there.

6. Controller and Electronics

Stepper Motors and Stepper Motor Driver

X-Carve Pro uses four stepper motors for linear motion.

The X-axis gantry is moved by two stepper motors.

Dual drive on the X-axis gantry prevents errors due to the racking of the two sides of the gantry.

The four stepper motors are NEMA 23 type motors with 292 oz-in of holding torque. 

These motors let you jog the spindle at 300 inches per minute when not cutting.

The cutting speed is close to 162 ipm for soft materials.

The stepper motor driver used in this CNC router is DRV8711.

This driver has an input voltage range of 8-52 V. It can supply a current of 4.5 A to each of the four motors.

Controller

The controller, stepper drivers, power supply, heat sinks, and a cooling fan are housed inside a cabinet that looks like a computer case.

The controller box is neatly designed and looks sleek.

It uses a GRBL based CNC controller board with a modified custom GRBL firmware flashed onto it.

Apart from the main controller unit you get a pendant-type controller unit with the kit which has a button to pause, resume and reset the cutting process.

Inventable calls the pendant-type controller the HMI which stands for Human Machine Interface.

The HMI has a USB Type-C port which is used to connect to Easel Pro software on your computer.

X-Carve Pro HMI next to the router
X-Carve Pro HMI next to the router

It also has a Z-probe port which is used to connect the Z-probe and also has a prominent red button that acts as an emergency stop button.

What it means for you is that you can stove away the bulky main controller under your work table after the initial setup and then use the HMI for running the CNC router.

You can hook up the controller to any standard 120 V wall socket and the power supply unit inside the controller box will power the entire X-Carve Pro CNC router.

Homing switches

You have homing switches on all the axes with an extra homing switch on the Y-Axis which lets you square the machine.

This lets you have a well-squared gantry and allows you to have good repeatability.

The extra homing switch is an additional feature on the X-Carve Pro that you do not have on the X-Carve and most other CNC machines.

The homing switches also prevent the gantry from crashing into the framework of the CNC machine.

Z-Probe

It is an accessory that comes with the kit and helps you find the Z-axis zero after each tool change.

The touch disk used for the Z-probe is made of copper which has good conductivity and hence has better sensitivity that improves the accuracy.

7. Software-Easel Pro

Inventables provides Easel Pro software with the X-Carve Pro CNC router.

Easel Pro software window
Easel Pro software window

It is an easy-to-use software that lets you design, generate G-code, and control the CNC machine from a single interface.

Your purchase will include a three-year license to Easel Pro, and after the initial three years, you will have to pay subscription fees to use Easel Pro.

Subscription to Easel Pro will cost you around $20 a month once the three-year period ends.

However, you can still use the basic Easel software with limited functionalities without paying.

From your design file, Easel software can tell you the time it would take for your job to finish.

It also has preset feeds and speeds based on material and depth of cut which makes it really quick for beginners to get started.

Also, with the X-Carve Pro, you get multiple pre-loaded projects on the project page that let you test and learn quickly.

Learning Easel is easy with multiple tutorials provided by Inventables and also from other creators on YouTube.

Easel has a feature called Tiling which lets you break down your entire design into smaller sections.

What this allows you to do is you can design the cuts for an entire 4’ x 8’ workpiece and then tile them into four sections of 4’ x 2’ each.

Once you have the design divided into sections, you can feed an entire 4’ x 8’ sheet into the 4’ x 2’ X-Carve Pro, 2 feet of length at a time to cut out the entire design.

This saves you from having to cut down long workpieces to smaller ones in order to accommodate them within the router.

Easel is a cloud-based platform and requires you to have an internet connection to load and save projects.

It is compatible with Windows 7 or higher, OS X 10.10 or higher, and Ubuntu Linux 18.04 or higher.

However, once a project is loaded you do not require an active internet connection to operate X-Carve Pro.

Easel is a basic software for CNC work and it lacks the capabilities that other professional CNC software programs offer.

However, it is a great beginner CAD/CAM software.

Easel cannot be used to create 3D designs and if you want to do 3D carving using X-Carve Pro you will have to use other 3D CAD/CAM software like Fusion 360 to do the CAD and CAM work.

You can import SVG, DXF, or G-code files from third-party CAD/CAM software programs into Easel.

Once you have generated the G-code for your 3D design you can run the G-code using Easel Pro software.

8. Accessories for X-Carve Pro

Dust boot and vacuum hose on X-Carve Pro
Dust boot and vacuum hose on X-Carve Pro

Dust Collection

Inventables provides a dust boot, hose, and arm with the kit which is an extremely useful accessory for woodworking on a CNC router.

The dust shoe is custom-designed to work with X-Carve Pro and is a neat addition. 

Removing and attaching the dust shoe for tool changes can be done easily by flipping a couple of levers.

However, you will have to manually adjust the height of the dust boot for each workpiece you use, but it is easy, all you need to do is turn a knob and slide it into position.

The hose that comes with the kit is grounded which is excellent as you do not have to provide external grounding for your vacuum hoses.

The hose is suspended above the machine using an arm and brackets. You can connect any standard shop vac to the hose.

If you have a proper CNC dust collector, you can hook it up to the hose on X-Carve Pro using the appropriate adapters.

Having a CNC dust collection system is important for cutting on CNC routers and Inventables have done a good job at providing the necessary accessories.

9. Assembling X-Carve Pro

The X-Carve Pro is shipped as a DIY kit with partially assembled components in a box.

You can fit the entire package in the back of a pickup truck.

The package contains well-labeled boxes and bags and lets you finish the assembly in under 3 hours.

However, you will need help to put this CNC router together.

This is because the X-axis gantry comes pre-assembled and is too heavy to be handled by just one person.

While assembling the kit you will have to ensure that the entire frame is perfectly squared to get good accuracy from the router.

The assembly documentation from Inventables, complete with instructions and photos is really all you need.

Inventables has uploaded a series of videos for the assembly process of this machine that explains every aspect in detail.

Moreover, there are a lot of unofficial assembly videos by X-Carve Pro users on YouTube.

10. Community

The Inventables community forum is highly active and is a great place to find information related to X-Carve Pro.

This includes upgrades, queries, and troubleshooting.

Also, X-Carve Pro is found in many maker spaces. Hence you can try an X-Carve Pro before buying and also learn about it.

You can share your ideas and browse from projects that other users made through the online community forum.

11. Customer Support

X-Carve comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Inventables also offers a three-year protection plan for around $500.

The protection plan will cover the repair expense, breakdown or failure due to power surges for a period of three years after the end of the one-year warranty period.

Inventables offers excellent US-based customer support for their products.

They provide both email and phone support for their customers.

The dedicated US-based phone line is a great place to get your queries resolved quickly, compared to the email support offered by most brands.

The company Inventables Inc. is based in Chicago, Illinois and they do free fast shipping within the US.

12. X-Carve Pro vs Shapeoko Pro vs Avid CNC CRP4896

X-Carve ProShapeoko ProAvid CNC CRP4896
Price*~[$8,495 - $9,995]~[$2,400 - $2,800]~[$7,600 - $11,200]
Work area4'x2', 4'x4'17.5"x17.5", 33'x17.5", 33"x33"4' x 8'
Material thickness4"4"8" or 12"
ChassisPowder-coated aluminumAluminum Y extrusionsHeavy-duty aluminum and
steel plate
Linear motionBall screws and linear railsBelt drive and linear railsBall screw Z-axis,
rack & pinion drive, linear rails
Stepper MotorsNEMA 23, 292 oz-inNEMA 23, 140 oz-inNEMA 23, 420 oz-in; Nema 34,
960 oz-in
Spindle2hp VFD spindleCarbide Compact Router,
Makita RT0701C
4 hp or 8.7 hp VFD spindle
SoftwareEasel ProCarbide CreateMach 4, VCarve Pro
Assembling time~ 3-4 hours~3 hours~10 hours

A quick comparison between X-Carve Pro, Shapeoko Pro, and Avid CNC CRP 4896

*the price is shown as a range due to the various customization options available.

The X-Carve Pro and Avid CNC CRP4896 are machines designed for production work and the Shapeoko Pro is for really small-scale businesses.

Shapeoko Pro cannot be used for projects which require long hours of continuous operation. You will need the Avid or the X-Carve Pro for that.

A significant difference between X-Carve Pro and Avid CNC is the scope for customizability.

You can customize the Avid CNC to the specific needs that you have.

However, this also means you will have to spend time researching and setting up the Avid CNC for optimal performance.

On the other hand, the X-Carve Pro and Shapeoko Pro will let you make your first cuts within a few hours of the arrival of the kit.

The difference between the three is the speed, accuracy, and duration of continuous operation.

Avid CNC has the highest feed rate and accuracy, followed by X-Carve Pro which is nearly half of the Avid, and then the Shapeoko Pro.

Even though the Avid CNC may look better on paper, X-Carve Pro takes the cake when it comes to ease of use.

You can start cutting on X-Carve Pro without any expertise as the Easel software that comes with the kit does most of the job for you.

To use Avid CNC you will need some experience in designing and using CNC machines.

The ease of use of Shapeoko Pro is similar to that of X-Carve Pro using the Carbide Create Software.

Customer support for all the three products is equally good with the Inventables being slightly better than the rest.

If you want a CNC router for very light works you can save quite some money going with Shapeoko Pro.

If you need a CNC router with a good balance between speed, accuracy, and ease of use you must choose the X-Carve Pro.

Further, if you are looking for a CNC router that can perform at incredible speeds with accuracy and is customizable and upgradable you can go for the Avid CNC, with ease of use being the biggest trade-off.

13. Final Thoughts

The X-Carve Pro is aimed at business owners who want continuous and repeated production of parts.

It is an easy-to-setup and easy-to-operate machine that will let you get cutting from day one even if you are new to CNCs.

At $9,995 for the 4' x 4' version and $8,495 for the 4' x 2' version, the X-Carve Pro is a good CNC router for businesses that need the surety of a trusted big brand.

X-Carve vs X-Carve Pro: Which CNC do you need?

X-CarveX-Carve Pro
Price~$2,299~$8,495, ~$9,995
Work area30" x 30"4' x 4', 4' x 2' (4' x 8' possible)
Material thickness2.56"4"
ChassisExtruded aluminumPowder-coated aluminum
Linear motionBelt drive and V-wheelsBall screw drive with Linear rails
Spindle1.25 Dewalt 611 router2 hp air-cooled VFD spindle
Assembling time~ 5-6 hours~3-4 hours

X-Carve vs X-Carve Pro

The X-Carve Pro is unmistakeably a more accurate and faster CNC router than the X-Carve.

But at the same time, it costs nearly four times as much as the X-Carve.

X-Carve Pro might appear like an upgraded version of X-Carve, which couldn't be further from the truth.

Both are entirely different machines.

X-Carve is primarily for hobbyists and businesses which don't have heavy production requirements.

The X-Carve Pro is for business owners who need to run their CNC every day for long hours.

The X-Carve pro can cut 25 times faster than the X-Carve which is crucial for businesses that handle heavy orders.

Furthermore, X-Carve Pro allows you to cut full size 4' x 8' sheets using the tiling feature which is not possible in the X-Carve.

Another significant difference is the linear drive mechanism used.

The Pro uses ball screws and linear rails which are considerably more accurate and rigid than the belt drive and V-wheel system on the regular X-Carve.

The spindle on the Pro is air-cooled and has more power than the regular X-Carve which lets you cut materials with better speed and allows you to use it for longer durations.

If you are a business that has to run its machine consistently every day I'd recommend you opt for X-Carve Pro rather than the X-Carve.

Due to the much faster cutting speeds, you'll likely recoup the extra cost of X-Carve pro rather quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you attach a laser module onto X-Carve Pro?

Inventables does not provide or support a laser module for the X-Carve Pro.

Can you turn your X-Carve to X-Carve Pro??

No, there are no kits to convert X-Carve into X-Carve Pro. Both of these are entirely different CNC routers that follow entirely different design principles and therefore you cannot convert your X-Carve to X-Carve Pro.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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