One stated goal of Chicago-based Inventables, which makes desktop CNC machines and related supplies and equipment, is to democratize 3D carving. It’s a lofty ambition, but the company has the support of a raft of backers including Cue Ball, which led its $11.5 million series C funding round. True Ventures, Greycroft, Pipeline Capital, Draper Associates, Relativity CEO Mike Gamson, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner also contributed capital, bringing Inventables’ total raised to more than $20 million.
CEO and founder Zach Kaplan said the influx of funds will bolster the development of Easel, Inventables’ free web-based software, as the company works to broaden its compatibility with machines from third-party partners.
“We are excited to see thousands of American businesses using our products for production,” said Kaplan. “This investment enables Inventables to enhance the functionality and compatibility of our Easel software, helping our business customers produce products faster and more profitably.”
Inventables, which Kaplan founded in 2002 as a hardware and raw materials supplier for product designers and 3D printers, initially pitched its carving hardware as a cheaper, more accessible way to accomplish some of the design work enabled by 3D printers. This struck a chord with Kickstarter backers in 2014, who pitched in over $600,000 in 86 minutes for its first-generation portfolio.
The company offers two millers: Carvey, a compact and noise-dampened CNC router for studios, and X-Carve, a professional-grade shop tool. Carvey features a fully enclosed frame and built-in settings for your materials, plus automatic calibration. X-Carve, by contrast, comes in three sizes and has stepped motors, a controller, and rails, and it can be customized with options like dust control and specialized carving bits (which range in price from $15 to $36).
X-Carve starts at $1,349, or $113 per month on a payment plan. Carvey, which is currently unavailable, has an MSRP of $2,499.
No matter which machine they have on hand, Inventables customers use Easel to sketch, import, and build carved objects like signs, kitchen gadgets, and even electric guitars. Easel’s pre-carve checklist addresses any mistakes made during the design process, and it ties in with a web collection of community-generated projects that showcase makers’ work and surface tips and videos, along with downloadable files.
Inventables says that this year, its users will carve more than 4 million projects. In 2015, Kaplan said he hoped to reach one million Easel users and sell “hundreds of thousands of [carving] machines.”
“It is rare that you have the opportunity to be part of a company that has the highest integrity and character of management with a highly purposeful and exciting product that can reshape and define an entire category,” said Cue Ball founder and CEO Tony Tjan, who plans to join Inventables’ board of directors. “The integration of software to an incredibly well engineered, high-value 3D carving machine is simply amazing. We are honored to be part of this investment group and join Zach and his leadership group.”