Every time I come back from a Maker Faire someone asks me what my favorite thing was that I saw there. At World Maker Faire 2013, that was an easy question to answer, the Pocket NC 5 Axis CNC. The possibilities of what could be made with a desktop 5 axis CNC mill are enough to spark any Maker’s imagination. After years of waiting, the Pocket NC is now being funded on Kickstarter.
This machine, like many other desktop CNC machines, is capable of cutting parts out of many different materials. Wood, wax, plastics, and even aluminum are all within the reach of this machine. What sets the Pocket NC apart from the numerous 3 axis machines available on the market is its ability to flip and turn pieces to present numerous angles for the milling bit to reach. This allows for far more complicated shapes to be cut and more finished parts to be created.
One of the problems that has plagued those trying to create 5 axis milling machines in the past is the availability of CAM software capable of creating the cutting paths for these machines. This software has been historically either proprietary, expensive, overly complicated, or often all of the above. The Pocket NC crew teamed up with Autodesk to provide a free year-long commercial license of their Fusion 360 software to anyone who purchases one of their mills. After the year, Fusion 360 will remain free for Maker, educational, or startup use. Fusion 360, on top of being a feature rich-design suite, also contains a CAM package capable of creating the tool paths for the Pocket NC.
While 5 axis machines are rare to begin with, they are even more rare at the price point for the Pocket NC. With pledges starting at $3,300 for a machine promised by the holidays, Santa’s workshop might have a new addition to it by the end of the year.