As the Chinese curse goes, “may you live in interesting times.” Sometimes, “interesting times” is actually a good thing. In the case of CNCs, there are a lot of new ideas, methods and designs appearing for those interested in digital woodworking.
In a short amount of time, we’ve seen several remarkable alternative CNC machines emerge. The Maslow CNC, a hanging CNC based on the design of wall plotters. The amazing Shaper Origin — a super smart CNC router that’s just now becoming available. Michael Warren’s Grow CNC, a portable gantry based machine that could make it to market. And, now for something completely different, meet Goliath: A CNC robot that you position directly on the surface to be cut and drives around on top of it.
Like the Shaper Origin, you move the Goliath to work being cut, making it a portable CNC. That’s the opposite of most table based CNCs. Unlike the Origin where the user has to move it along a path by following the design on the screen, Goliath is autonomous like most conventional table-based CNCs. It moves on its own through a complex drive wheel system.
How does it work?
Goliath uses three omnidirectional wheels that allow the robot to move freely without any constraint on the surface being cut. The three-module wheels ensure that two rollers are always in contact with the panel. By having multiple contact points, Goliath’s movement is not affected by grooves or profiles that have already been cut, because at least one roller is always in contact with the surface. To keep track of where it is, the corners of the workspace are defined through scanners and small cables are attached to two corners of the sheet being cut for real-time triangulation. Sounds complicated, but if you watch the videos it’ll all make sense.
Where can it do
Goliath is a robot that you take to the work, which makes it ideal for cutting panels, plywood, and other flat materials. Being that it relies on the continuity of the surface to move about, that makes using in for cutting solid wood boards not possible. So, use really needs to be limited to plywood, unless you’ve got a stash of 24” wide boards, of course. Its accuracy is .01mm or about .004” which should be good enough for most woodworking uses. Dust collection needs appear to be minimal but the company is working on an integrated solution during final development.
The Goliath control software works on Windows, Android and iOS devices. The software will read common SVG and DXF files. Speed, which we measure in inches per minute (IPM) is about 40IPM at a depth of about 1/4″ with a 1/4″ 2 flute mill.
How to get one
Like the way the Maslow CNC started out, the Springa’s Goliath is a crowd-funded project on Kickstarter. Here’s the link to the Goliath campaign. That means that rather than being a buyer, you’re really a backer who invests early to get an early machine at an attractive price. As with all crowd-funded campaigns, there’s risk involved. Goliath is nearing the end of its Kickstarter campaign and right now the price is $1,490 USD with deliveries expected in Fall, 2018. As to its success in fundraising, the Goliath is very popular and has shot past its original goal by a factor of 10.
I hope to see Goliath in action sometime next year and will update as soon as possible.