Makeblock is arming do-it-yourself (DIY) creators with an all-in-one desktop cutting machine that lets people manufacture craft items at home.
It’s a perfect tool for the pandemic, enabling people to design their own products on a desktop computer and then use a cutting machine that can manufacture the product like a 3D printer. Shenzhen, China-based Makeblock is launching a Kickstarter campaign today for the xTool M1.
The machine is equipped with both laser and blade heads, integrating laser engraving, laser cutting, and blade cutting. It’s related to the boom in 3D printers, which layer materials on top of each other to creating things. But the cutting machines start with a bulk material and then sculpt it down.
“You can use a printer to print a cup,” said Jasen Wang, Makeblock CEO, in an interview with VentureBeat. “But normally you will not use this cup to drink water because it’s made from a material that isn’t smooth.”
Two laser power models are available. The xTool M1-5W starts at the early bird price of $700, and the xTool M1-10W starts at the early bird price of $800.
“We are empowering individuals to do this kind of creation in their homes,” said Wang. “Our vision is to help people enjoy the fun of creating, and to encourage more people to do it.”
Instead of clunky CO2 lasers that limit portability and maintenance, xTool M1 features a compact, but powerful, diode laser that combines compressed spot technology for cutting capabilities up to 8-millimeter basswood in a single pass and engraving precision up to 0.01mm. In the past, creators used to have to use two different machines to do different kinds of cutting.
The machine’s blade-cutting helps makers avoid the “burnt” look and discoloration of soft materials that comes from laser cutting, Wang said. And so the tech works whether you’re cutting or engraving leather, delicate paper, vinyl, or fabric.
The xTool M1 can be used as a standalone device or connected to the xTool Laserbox software suite to enhance smart laser cutting and engraving. The all-in-one graphic design tool combines with the machine’s inbuilt 16MP ultra-wide-angle, high-resolution camera.
The machine allows users to scan original drawings and bring them to life on a range of materials, it automatically senses and imports any pattern through AI image extraction, it detects via infrared the material thickness and automatically sets the focal length, and AI recognizes and automatically adapts to the size and position of the material for batch processing.
The boxed lid automatically filters blue light to protect eyes and auto-stops when the lid is opened to avoid injury. A built-in exhaust fan reduces pollution, plus there is an external exhaust pipe to discharge smoke out of a nearby window. And it weighs nine pounds and operates with a fan that produces less than 55 decibels of sound.
“It’s a very small footprint in the home for families and designers,” Wang said.
Supported materials include kraft paper, corrugated paper, cardboard, wood, bamboo, felt, leather, fabric, dark acrylic, plastic, PVC, MDF, dark glass, ceramics, jade, marble, shale, cement, brick, stainless steel, electroplated metal, painted metal, copy paper, PVC bronzing film, PVC lettering film, adhesive stickers, and transparent electrostatic adsorption film.
The estimated delivery date of xTool M1 is March 2022. Makeblock was founded in 2013. In the past, it made educational products for children to teach them how to do coding. It moved to creating laser-cutting machines in 2019. The company has more than 400 employees and it has raised $77.5 million to date. Most of its customers are outside of China.
In the past, laser-cutting machines cost more than $3,000. But the latest machines are much more affordable, Wang said.