(Update: If you guys are looking to get an awesome cnc machine like the i3R-8 in this review chick the link and use code JPAYNE10 at check out and save $200 on the i2R-8 from i2rcnc.com) CNC MACHINES! Like them or not they are one tool that in you shop they can accomplish so much that is will blow your mind. As CNC machines and their technology progress it is easy to see how they are starting to catch on so quickly. Everyday there seems to be a new design, Style, or brand going to the market. With that being said there are many levels to C&C woodworking. Some people just want a small machine that can be tinkered with and experimented with. While others are looking to expand their business and get into possibly mass-producing or at least speeding up the production of the products they make.
This is where the i2R UCCNC From Imagination 2 reality comes into play. I i2R Is a C&C manufacturing company based within the US that wants to focus on creating Intrigue to intermediate-level machines for people that want to expand their woodworking capabilities and grow their business. While Axiom has a machine that is called i2r these machines are from i2R (Imagination 2 Reality) and are a UCCNC based controller system machine. while I agree that the action machines are amazing these i2r uccnc machines are great machines at only a portion of the price of an Axiom. I’ve had this machine for a while now and have really started to put it through its paces. With that I would like to do a bit of a review and share some of the specs of the machine and what I think of it. With a price starting around $2999.
This machine makes for one heck of an entry level machine with a ton of capabilities without breaking the bank or taking up so much room that it is a problem to find somewhere to put it in your shop or home. Let’s start with the basics and the beginning.
For assembly of the machine it is quite straightforward almost the entire machine is put together with a few different size Allen head machine screws as well as some washers and spacers. The machine goes together easily and I had no problems getting anything to line up the fit of the different parts especially of the base when together quite well. I am not going to dwell too much on the assembly as I already have a video showing the assembly and unboxing of the machine if you would like to see that video you can check it out here. i2R-8 Unboxing and Assembly
FRAME AND MACHINE BED
The frame on the i2r is made of steel tubing and is quite sturdy. First thing I noticed when I received the machine was the nice black powder coated finish of the frame and shelf. There is a large lengthwise Shelf that fits within the legs of the frame that has a couple of different mounting positions for height. This makes storing things like fits your wrenches dust food and a few other things quite convenient. I will be building a cabinet that fits into this opening where the Shelf is later on just to maximize the storage of the frame of the machine.
Also included with the frame are for locking casters these casters are well-built and roll quite easily. And once and lowered into position on to the rubber pads are extremely sturdy. In my experience so far the machine does not move hardly at all once the casters are dropped down to the fixed position. These are a screw-type caster which requires you to spend a small plastic washer to lift or lower than machine. While this is a good bit slower than different types of casters at first I did not care for this but over time I’ve learned I do not move the machine very often so this is not a problem at all.
This particular machine is the i2R-8 UCCNC and has a 2’ by 4’ bed. The bed of the machine is constructed of an extruded aluminum bed with MDF cutting area bed. These large replaceable MDF pieces make cutting out things like profiles are Pockets through a material much better as you are allowed to cut into the MDF and can simply flatten the MDF using the CNC machine and a spill board bit. Integrated into the extruded aluminum bed are T-track slots that are used along with the clamps to hold your material in position. These are extremely strong and secure and it is a feature that most CNC machines have and honestly I would not like to deal with one that did not. Being able to apply multiple points of contact for multiple clamps makes securing your material much much easier and much stronger. The bed of my particular i2R-8 UCCNC has seen a ton of use and I have also reflect and the MD of sections a couple of different times with great results. The bed also seems to be very high quality has after all this time of using it there is not a single scratch in the aluminum with no twisting or buckling of any kind.
Along with the machine I also wanted and requested a few small accessories. While the wrenches for the spindle collet nut and Z axis touch off pad come with the machine I also requested a dust boot 4 dust collection as well as four of the imagination to reality clamps.
As mentioned previously these clamps are used to hold down your material during cutting. And work extremely well. with the ability to clamp down on smaller and larger objects as well as can be used for linear pressure to hold and objects against a fence or wall if you decide to add one to the bed of your machine. These clamps are extremely well-made out of aluminum with stainless steel T track screws.
Spindle and Gantry
The spindle on the i2r is a 115 volt 1 horsepower air cooled brushless spindle. When I first received the machine I thought that there would possibly be an issue with it being only one horsepower or are cold as I was worried that the machine would be underpowered. This is completely not the case. I am quite impressed with how much power the spindle puts out being able to run at up to 24,000 RPM. so far I have not had any issues as far as power goes with any portions of the machine. I have cut hardwood lexan plywood and a few other things and the spindle and Gantry seemed it to go through the material with relative ease. While regardless of how strong your machine is having the correct settings for your machine is also very important. But we will talk more about that when I get to the control systems. The spindle itself on the i2R can accept most quarter-inch shank bits. While it is not able to accept 1/2 inch Shank I have found this is much less of a problem than I had originally thought it would be. After all of the cutting I have done I have found that honestly I have not run into any instances where needing a 1/2 inch shank bit was a reality. While some things would need to be back down a little bit and make the cut a bit slower with the machine I have had no trouble breathing through anything I have cut with 1/4 shank bit.
The wrenches that are sent with the machine to change bits with fit the shaft of the spindle as well as the collet nut. These wrenches are a steel construction and I have had zero problems out of them when they concern with accessories are tools like this is that they will roundover or slip-on the collet nut when used. I have not found that to be the case at all as the collet nut and wrenches have held up fantastic through all the years I have put it through.
Also another thing I would like to say is that the machine is much quieter than I expected it to be. Being are cold I thought honestly that the spindle would be in Extremely Loud machine. I was thinking something again to running a large router but that is completely not the case. The machine is much quieter than I ever expected it to be. While running dust collection with the machine I honestly hear the dust collection more than the machine itself. While this may not be the case depending on what you’re cutting as the bits can be quite loud the machine itself is surprisingly quiet.
The positional accuracy of the machine is also quite impressive with the spec sheets and listing the positional accuracy as plus or minus .15 mm. well honestly I have no way to directly measure this at the moment. I have done many cuts that required very very precise cutting as the cuts were very close to each other. I’ve had no issue with this at all so in my opinion the Precision of the machine is very high. Part of the reason the Precision and reliability of the machine or what they are is due to the fact that the guy to our machine uses ball screw threaded shafts on all three axes x y and z. with high torque Stepper Motors as well as linear guide rails.
These ball screw shafts also have zerk fittings which allow you to do your normal maintenance as far as grazing all contact points that slide on the machine. this reduces friction and wear and also helps to keep up the Precision of the machine.
For dust collection that I opted to get the removable dust boot. This features a 2 in dust port that is held in place buy a lexan plate that is attached to the bottom of the spindle. The dust food is then attached are removed using the two magnets to line up the dust boot correctly with the boot plate. this makes removing or switching bits much faster and is a pretty standard design on most CNC machines that include dust collection. The one thing I will say is in the beginning I was worried how well a 2 inch port dust collection design would work.
I was honestly worried that it would not have enough suction to properly remove dust are chips during cutting. With that being said I am more impressed with it than I thought I would be. If you have a small shop or would like to have a machine such as this in your home using something like a good Shop-Vac with a 2-inch Port would work quite well. I have personally opted it to use a 4 inch to 2 inch reducer and attach the machine to a dedicated Rockler dust right dust collection system. This works extremely well and picks up even most of the larger chips created during The Cutting of something such as Hardwoods are plywood’s.
The dust boot itself fits well but I will say while using the dust boot it is very critical that you make sure the dust boot is seated properly onto the plate as the boot can come off during cutting if not properly seated. One thing I did to help alleviate the issue of improper seating was to add two very strong neodymium magnets to the other ends of the dust boot.
While this is something that is not necessarily needed or required I found that it just helped me ensure the dust who was seated correctly and eased my mind a little bit honestly. This is not something you are required or need to do necessarily I just personally wanted to do it as I think it makes attaching the dust boot a little more secure in a little easier.
Controls and UCCNC
One of the biggest questions I get about the machine is how I feel about the UCCNC controller program. One of the worries I have found most people have or have the most I should say is the idea that they will need a computer to run the machine. While this is completely true the i2r is run by a UCCNC controller program and a main controller box that is hooked to a computer via an ethernet cable. You do not need an extremely crazy build computer to run this program. To control the machine basically all you need is any kind of computer with the required specs of windows. You do not need a custom build gaming computer or high-end computer to run this program or this machine efficiently. UCCNC is an extremely strong and intuitive program. While it does take a little bit of learning to get used to the use of the controls there is no aspect of the machine you cannot control or change within this controller program.
While other machines have different controllers that use things like touch pads and USB drives the UCCNC has the advantage of everything you are working on being directly connected to your machine at all times. There is no need to go back and forth to your computer or worried about if The G-Code is correct if you are on the computer used to create that G-Code. I do plan on doing some tutorials on the uccnc controller program in the future as this is a point of the machine that I have been asked about a lot. But for now I know that the program is awesome. I honestly did not think I was going to like the program but when I started using the machine but as I have gotten used to the program and using it in the machine as well as vcarve Pro along with it I am finding more and more that the program is extremely capable and Powerful. With UCCNC You are able to completely control and Jog the machine, start and stop the spindle, micro adjust the spindle speeds and feed rates as well as monitor all of the systems on the machine and also have a 3D read out of your cut displayed in real-time on the machine to ensure that they cut is going as planned. If there are any issues with the machine there is also a diagnostic page and you are also able to set up things as such as custom homes and multiple position homes for doing consistent cuts repeatedly.
Bits and Cutting
What you have bits placed into the machine and the proper position of the machine at its zero. this is where you will use the Z axis touch off pad 2 set your Z axis zero. The touch off pad is a great accessory in that using this Z axis pad you get an exact and perfect read out of where the end of your bit is allowing for your machine to make much much more precise depth cutting.
to use the Z axis touch off pad you simply place your bit into the end of the spindle using the collet nut. Set your zero whether it be on one of the corners are in the center of your material and then simply pressed the button pictured by the green arrow in the picture above the machine will slowly lower the tip of the bit until it senses the very tip of the bit touching the touch off pad. This will then tell the machine precisely where the end of your bit is and the song wow is your machine to make cuts much more precise.
Another aspect of CNC Machining I would like to touch on Psalm is what b**** you are using. I have been using bits from bitsbits.com for some while now not only did they feature an entire line of bits that they themselves have designed but they also feature many Whiteside bits along with their proprietary Astra coating. This is a coating that is on their bits to give the bits greater durability as well as keep the bit sharper longer. In my experience it works amazingly. I have made multiple multiple cuts with their bits and I am yet to see any decrease in the sharpness of the bits. So if you do any kind of CNC Machining go check these guys out you will not regret using their bits. I have a bunch of them and use them all the time and am fascinated and impressed by them every time I use them. So go check them out here. Bitsbits.com
In conclusion this machine is awesome. That’s honestly how I feel about it and I get excited every time I think there is going to be a new project where I can jump on the C&C and put it through its paces. wow this is an entry to intermediate level machine it we’ll run with the big boys for sure. While you might not be able to cut full sheets of plywood on it the limitations of what you can make or build with this machine are really only limited by your imagination. So with that being said guys make sure to go check out i2r at i2rcnc.com If you are thinking into getting into any kind of cnc work or expanding your business. This is one machine that I know you will not be disappointed then. They are also in the works for doing some really cool things as far as accessories for my understanding so it is also a great thing to get your foot in the door now so you don’t miss out on all the cool innovations that they will be coming out with in the future. So I hope you guys have enjoyed this review make sure to check out the video at the top of this page. And subscribe on YouTube. As well as if you want more videos and pictures follow me on Instagram @jpaynewoodworking. And like always guys I will see you on the next one.