Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

While 3D printers build, iModela carves


February 7, 2012

Unlike typical 3D printers, iModela carves rather than builds its models

Unlike typical 3D printers, iModela carves rather than builds its models

Image Gallery (12 images)

3D printers are certainly hot technology these days, with machines like the Printrbot, MakerBot and Cubify launching on a regular basis. But while most of these devices focus on building something from the ground up, Roland DG has unveiled a new machine that does the exact opposite. Rather than slowly building a model by adding layers of material, the iModela iM-01 3D Modeling Machine carves its creations down from a larger block of material, like a small, automated sculptor.

iModela can create a 3D product from common crafting materials like plastic, balsa wood, wax, or foam. The machine's spindle motor is also built to accommodate a variety of milling attachments, allowing users to have greater control over how their creations turn out. The whole thing can even be packed up into a portable carrying case for easy transportation. The device was created with hobbyists in mind, though design engineers could definitely get some use out of it.

Users can create a 3D model with the included iModela Creator software by either downloading files online or sketching out their own designs. Pre-made designs can be found and shared through the iModela website's online community, where tips on using the machine can be shared.

The iModela 3D Modeling Machine sells for US$899 and can be purchased from the product's website. Check out the video below to see the milling process in action.

Source: iModela

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things. All articles by Jonathan Fincher

Double the price of a Makerbot and perhaps half the functionality, is it justified by its form factor?

Chi Sup

This is called a CNC machine, nothing new. They have been out a long time.


\"Double the price of a Makerbot\"? Guess you haven\'t looked at Makerbot\'s prices lately. The original Cupcake kit is no longer available. The $1100 Thing-O-Matic unassembled kit is only available \"while supplies last\", and the new Replicator is $1750.

So - at half the price of a Makerbot, this doesn\'t seem too bad a deal for a hobby CNC. But I\'m rather appalled at how laborious it seems to use. It\'s agonizingly slow, considering it seems to be just cutting foam in the demo, and apparently you have to set up the data by hand in three separate steps: cutting, roughing, and finishing. This is definitely not a \"load the model and push a button\" kind of machine!

And yes, it looks well designed and glossy, and the fact that the whole thing folds out at the end is very cute. But they couldn\'t be bothered to install a switch to cut off the power when the case is opened?


DonFG: By that logic, there\'s nothing new about any new product in a pre-existing category, say, phones, cars or computers...


Kudos to them for illustrating the realities of their software. They\'ve failled to mention that you need a Windows 3.1 or 95 PC to run it, with a DB9 or DB25 serial port though.

They\'ve also skipped the tool changes - this box is just a mini version of an \"MDX\" (I\'ve got one), same software and everything. Tools are just plain voodoo. They go through all this neat roughing through to finishing stuff, but there\'s no automatic or calibrated tool-height system (the printer is entirely 100% \"dumb\" - no brain, no sensors) - you have to manually guess that stuff with buttons, so it\'s going to take you 3+ attempts to get it right (if you\'re lucky) on any \"production\" run. Oh yeah - and it takes all night to do one \"print\", and is ultra-noisy, and the mess it makes is pure insanity (looks neat in their demo, because they didn\'t show you the guy with the paintbrush clearring the cuttings from the model for the 10 hours it would have taken to make that blob).


There\'s things CNC are better at than Printrbots - for instance, if you want something machined out of metal. But this one doesn\'t seem to do metal.

Mike Smith

This will be ok in time, just not this time. Needs to incorporate a 3D scanner to to get images and demensions of of the original into software, then this gadget needs to be like 100 times faster with auto tool change between stages. Ok, what are you waiting for? get to it already....

Terry Penrose

Gizmag - \"the iModela iM-01 3D Modeling Machine carves its creations down from a larger block of material,\" Since when is, what looks to be about, 100mm x 50mm x 50mm \"Large\"? Ok it is a tidy looking, small CNC. But honestly, I have seen faster DIY units on youtube, that have been built for half that price.

Nothing special.


Agree with all the others. Just another mini CNC. Roland has been milking this technology for too long. Time for them to move in a new direction.

Pete Kratsch

We invented the \"Creator\" in 1990 as a Desk Top Machine Shop overcoming the two main problems of low cost \"3D Printing\" otherwise known as CNC machining. The goal was to come in under $8,000.00 for 300 mm (1 foot) cube max dimension objects made from anything up to and including tool steels, resolution .025 mm or .001 inch, repeatability +/-.005 mm.

The purpose was to make parts for all manner of machines (Auto\'s to Zero\'s) rather then stock and ship them and of course create new WORKING designs. Something no present 3D machines seem to attempt in the range below $8k (except making gaskets and foam parts).

The problems we overcame? Low cost high performance ball screws, linear scales and tools, tool change.

There was no market, no interest, no body who even understood what we were about. In 1995 we went on and used some of the ideas at the nanoscale to nanomachine semiconductor related things these machines which helped make microprocessors, sold like hot cakes for thousands of times more money.

Go figure.


@Hmm You can buy USB to DB9 adapters for very little.

Robert Guimont

like a portable drill, it seems like a portable milling m\c.

Ameya Bandekar

That music isn\'t completely irritating at all!

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles