PROVIDENCE – The AS220 maker space in Providence won a contest hosted by Chicago-based Inventables to receive a free 3-D carving machine, a new technology that like 3-D printing is “revolutionizing the way physical objects are designed and manufactured.”
3-D carving, more commonly known as a CNC milling, allows the user to create precision parts and designs from real materials like wood and metal, unlike consumer-grade 3-D printers which currently use only plastic to create objects. Using CNC milling, a craftsman could create wood furniture, aluminum machine parts or electronic circuit boards.
“We believe that to ignite the digital manufacturing revolution, we need to provide free access to these important 3-D carving tools to as many people as possible,” said Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan in a release.
AS220 is an artist-run organization committed to providing a forum for the arts, and offers a print shop, a darkroom, a fabrication and electronics lab, and a youth program focusing on those in juvenile detention facilities.
The 3-D carving machine awarded to AS220 works with Inventables’ free software Easel, geared toward helping even those without specialized training to turn their ideas into physical objects. Inventables said it hopes that providing access to free 3-D printing and 3-D carving machines and free software will help reboot American manufacturing education, and allow people to start their own small-scale manufacturing businesses in the United States.
Inventables, which markets itself as a “hardware store for designers,” has given away 50 3-D carving machines across the United States to community gathering places, like AS220, where people with an interest in learning and technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge.
“The majority of net new jobs come from startups and small businesses,” said Kaplan. “These 3-D carving machines present the opportunity for America to get back into manufacturing with a business model that makes sense in the new economy.”