The Vortex is our push to lead the charge of bringing rotary axis cutting to the hobby CNC market.
If you look hard enough, you’ll find that rotary cutting has been in hobby CNCers minds for over a decade at this point; so how has this technology not become commonplace? There are very clear use-cases for a rotary, a post on our own Facebook group shows that there aren’t a lack of ideas (https://www.facebook.com/groups/mill.one/posts/1693838977754093/). With relatively few comments, the discussion already mentions totems, trophies, walking sticks, baseball bats, chess pieces, custom handles, table legs, drawer pulls, magic wands, shifter knobs, figurines, and many other examples of total 3D carvings.
We feel that the main sticking point has been intimidation and manufacturer involvement:
If hobbyists already feel a large learning curve from typical CNCing, how would they be comfortable stepping up to add a new dimension to their cutting? Besides the physical setup of a rotary, how do you go about making repeatable jobs? Coming up with ideas for what to make? Or climbing the mountain on learning how to do the CAM and toolpaths in the first place?
Why the Vortex
This is where we want to be able to step in and provide a new option that is:
- Obviously in the form of a physical rotary axis unit, not unlike other options that already exist
- Even further integrated: meaning that everything fits and works together. You’ve got a purpose-built track that you might’ve had to DIY otherwise, a quick-adjust tailstock, built-in headstock probing macros for quick alignment, integrating homing sensor, full dust covering, g-code sender compatibility, and a wiring management/toggle solution. This makes for a rotary that just works, currently aiming to be fully compatible with our MK1 and MK2 LongMills. It’s simple enough to set up and remove from your CNC that you won’t feel the dread of using it when you want and removing it when you don’t. No dedicated machine required; with more configuration options possible for multi-purpose cutting layouts.
- Paired with purpose-made resources: we’ve always put all our efforts into fully supporting our products and the Vortex won’t be any different. As you know, toolpaths are the hardest part of CNCing, we know that this is a large area where other rotary products fall short and impact your ability to use those products. We’ve already put a lot of time in behind the scenes to make sure that we’re confident we’ll be able to provide understandable instructions and guidance. You’ll learn how to set up your project ideas in CAM and end up with toolpaths that bring your projects to life.
- Inspiring! One final barrier to entry we’ve noticed with any new technology is that people aren’t sure how they might use it. We’ll be putting our whole team’s collective brains together for this. In combination with years of proven rotary use-cases, we want to inspire you about the capabilities of the technology and give you tangible ideas on projects you can create. With this launch-point, we’re sure you’ll be able to take over from there and get the most use out of your Vortex 😁
It’s been a long journey for developing the Vortex Rotary Axis, but we’re excited to be now sharing all this work with you!
The Vortex Rotary Axis is an open source project and you will be able to find links to the CAD model, the BOM and the schematics for the rotary axis switch here.