The New Carvera Air May Finally Make CNC Milling Accessible

The new Carvera Air is now available on Kickstarter and may finally make CNC milling accessible to the general hobbyist market.

Cameron Coward
2 months ago

CNC (computer numerical control) milling is much older than 3D printing, but has mostly remained out of reach of hobbyists while 3D printing has become very accessible. There are many reasons for that and most of them relate to the practical realities of subtractive manufacturing, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for progress. In an attempt to finally break through to the general hobbyist market, Makera just launched the new Carvera Air on Kickstarter.

The Carvera Air Kickstarter Campaign has already raised $1.5 million and still has a month to go. Clearly, people find this concept compelling.

This product is a follow-up to Makera’s original Carvera desktop CNC machine. That has been fairly successful, but its cost (starting at $5,549.00) has limited widespread appeal. The Carvera Air is a little bit smaller, has a slightly different feature set, and is much more affordable. The Early Bird package that is currently available on Kickstarter costs just $1,399. But even though the Carvera Air is a quarter of the cost of the Carvera, it doesn’t seem to make many sacrifices.

There are a lot of cheap desktop CNC mills on the market and they’re almost all disappointing. That tends to be the result of three factors: a lack of rigidity, an inadequate spindle, and poorly thought-out software/control systems.

The Carvera Air solves the first problem with a single-piece diecast (probably aluminum) frame. That can’t match the rigidity of an industrial milling machine or VMC, but it should be much better than standard desktop CNC fare. Similarly, the spindle was actually built for this purpose. It has a 200-watt motor, a custom tool-free quick change collet, and speeds between 0 and 13000 RPM with closed-loop control. The specified runout is below 0.01mm. The relevance of that specification is debatable, but it shows that Makera at least cares enough to bother measuring it—something that can’t be said for many other manufacturers.

Makera is solving the problem of software and control with their own custom CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software. That seems to prioritize ease-of-use, which is something that consumers desperately need. CAM has traditionally been very daunting and has kept CNC milling from being accessible to the masses, so user-friendly software and an intuitive control interface should make a big difference.

Other add-ons, like a laser module and a rotary 4th axis, further increase the utility of the Carvera Air.

Those of us with “real” CNC experience may be tempted to scoff at a machine like the Carvera Air. It certainly won’t be able to approach the precision of even an entry-level VMC from decades ago. Heck, it can’t even handle ferrous metals. But that misses the point, which is that many hobbyists don’t care much about those things. They just want an affordable machine that doesn’t take up much space and that is easy to use. The Carvera Air seems like the product to finally fill that niche.

If you want a Carvera Air, the Kickstarter campaign will run until May 10th. Early birds can get a Carvera Air for $1,399 and that should ship out in November.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
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