The control of any machine tool–especially one with as many features as the H-Series–can be intimidating. Most machine tools use dedicated controllers, which means the movement processing and user interface are combined on-machine. This is an expensive, although usually robust, solution. Instead, our H-Series machines use the Duet3D family of controllers. Duet3D is relatively powerful and well-supported hardware which originated from the 3D printing world. The use of this controller is the #1 reason why we are able to keep the price of the H-Series so low. And with recent improvements to both hardware and CNC control firmware, we don’t need to make any trade-offs to provide high performance at this lower price point.
How Does the User Interface to H-Series Machines?
The Duet controller system has a number of processors doing different things, but one is dedicated to serving a control interface webpage. This webpage, accessible with any computer connected to the same network as the machine, is the primary interface to the H-Series machine, and allows the user to control every function of the machine as well as make permanent changes to its configuration (in the case of custom tools or behavior). Full details about the interface can be found on our support site. In short, it is an intuitive web-based CNC control UI that most everyone in the 21st century would find comfortable.
The Duet CNC control interface is customized to the H-Series:
Emphasis is placed on the most relevant information
Priority placement is given to the most-used buttons
Individual tabs are provided for specialized functionality
As an example of this, the H-Series is unique in that a 4th (A) or 5th (C) axis module can be quickly attached (mechanically) to the machine, but the machine does not know where exactly the axis is located. A tab dedicated to the rotary axis modules allows a walk-through of steps to correctly calibrate each setup, shortening the learning curve and reducing the chance of mistakes.
Similarly, Offsets have a dedicated page informing the user of the states of each probe (both the on-machine probe and the removable toolsetting probe), allowing quick input of tool offsets, edge finding, and WCS input. This brings us to the next input method: the pendant. This tool allows direct and tactile CNC control of the machine. It has two primary benefits: precise manual control with the encoder for delicate operations (like finding offsets) and onboard local control (for simple operations when a computer is not nearby).
Another example of how we strive for continuous improvement is with the added functionality of cleaning station settings in the user interface. The H-Series keeps its print tools clean with an active cleaning station. This somewhat involved dance (extrusion against a non-stick surface, movement to pincers, removal of extruded material, and final retraction) often needs to be customized for each material type, and needs to be coordinated with the slicing software, which also defines toolchange retraction and make-up. Recently, this functionality was added to the user interface for simple, easily adjustable input:
Many of these new features were introduced in the past year—made available to customers after the H-Series was first released. We intentionally engineer “headroom” into the hardware, knowing that our software will get better and add new capabilities after it arrives in your workshop. These improvements are developed by the Diabase team, our partners at Duet3D, and of course with customer feedback. We think the machine is easy to control now, which is to say we only ship products when we know they’re ready. And we are proud to make them even better after you make your investment in a Diabase machine.
One may expect a machine that spans two worlds (CNC milling and 3D printing) to be limited in how well it handles each. With the H-Series' recent updates and interface customization, that is simply not the case. CNC operators (and educators) are pleasantly surprised with how closely the interface cleaves to Fanuc and other high-end interfaces, while simultaneously making work setups easier. The offsets page, for example, simplifies these critical operations while enabling all the expected inputs.
We Want to Hear From You!
Don’t take our word for it. What are our customers experiencing in the real world?
"In addition to a new UI that's easier to navigate, the pendant (which replaced the tablet) makes it much easier to control the H-Series, with greater accuracy and speed. The upgrade process is getting easier as well, which is a plus."
Art Muir, Early Adopter
“After 1-1/2 plus years I am happy to report that the H4 and Diabase have been a rock solid combination. The H4 has (not only) been a great machine from the beginning, but it has also been steadily improved over this entire time span. The ease of use and simplicity of setups just keep getting better all the time.”
What do you think of the H-Series? We’d love to hear from you!