Goliath CNC Review
Despite the gigantic name, Goliath is one of the smallest CNC units in the market. It’s the first autonomous and portable robotic CNC milling machine of its kind.
Unlike other CNC machines, Goliath is able to work autonomously and it isn’t designed for a dedicated space – it’s a free-rolling machine that can move over a surface and carve, mill, or engrave lines or other designs into it.
The machine was created by Springa, which is an Italian startup that was founded back in 2016 by Lorenzo Frangi and other Italian designers and engineers whose focus is on designing and developing robotic tools for digital fabrication.
Other than the fact that it’s an autonomous, robotic CNC machine, the Goliath CNC offers an almost boundless work area as it’s able to move freely on any surface. It’s also quite accurate (has 0.01 point of accuracy) thanks to its omnidirectional mobility and custom-developed sensors.
Other amazing features it offers are the ability to work with many materials, auto z-axis calibration, self-route correcting, auto-stop safety feature, Wi-Fi connectivity and portability.
- The quality of the cuts is decent
- It offers unlimited working space
- Works with various materials
- The unit is very compact and highly portable
- It supports different types of materials
- It’s easy to assemble and operate
- It’s susceptible to positional loss due to material resistance and vibration
- It doesn’t offer a mechanism for holding workpieces in place
- You can only connect to it via Wi-Fi
- Spindle Motor: universal motor
- Spindle Power: 900W
- Collet: ER 16 collet
- Maximum Cut Depth: 1.3 inches (35 mm)
- Programmable Resolution: 0.004inches
- Mechanical Accuracy: 0.1mm
- Mechanical Repeatability: 0.004inches
- Maximum Spindle Speed: 27,000RPM
- Maximum Feed Rate (no load): 25000 mm/3in (100 ipm)
- X-axis Range: 100mm (4 inches)
- Working Area: 9.8 x 8.5 ft.
- Routing Materials: panels, copper, plastic sheets, wood
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- Compatible Software: Slingshot (CAM)
- Overall Size: 15.75 x 15.75 x 11.82 inches
- Weight: 22 pounds (10 kg)
The unique thing about the Goliath CNC is its miniature design. It’s a very light, compact and highly portable machine, unlike other CNC millers which tend to be bulky, heavy and stationary or fixed to a particular space.
The small components used and their layout make the whole unit measure just 15.75 x 15.75 x 11.82 inches, which is a pretty small size for a CNC machine. Its footprint is smaller than a desktop CNC milling machine – you can use and store it almost anywhere.
The whole unit weighs only 22 pounds (10kgs) and features built-in handles which allow you to take it with you to a location you want. It’s a totally portable CNC machine. The quality of the components and the overall structure is also pretty good. The unit feels solid and it features an aluminum frame with plastic covers.
The other most unique thing about this Goliath CNC model is its innovative omnidirectional three-module wheel design. It allows you to place/position it anywhere directly on the work surface where it moves freely and accurately, cutting/engraving according to the design uploaded.
This intelligent design removes the stationary boundaries seen with traditional flatbed CNC machines. You are not limited to a particular location – you can create where you want and how you want. You can take it to where the material is rather than taking the material to it.
Furthermore, the unit has a hexagonal chassis attached to the wheels which together with their omnidirectional mobility design ensures that two wheels always remain in contact with the panel. Thereby, the movement of the unit isn’t affected by either grooves or profiles which have already been cut – at least one roller always stays in contact with the panel. The wheels themselves have 35N of traction and 44 pounds (20kg) load capacity.
The majority of debris and dust is rolled over or simply pushed aside by the wheels, plus the unit comes with a transparent plastic cover that shields you from the automatic drill bit as well as from the debris created as the unit drills through wood, plastic or other material.
The Goliath is equipped with a relatively powerful spindle (900W) that utilizes a universal motor. It has a Z-axis range of 100mm (4 inches) and utilizes two separate sensors to dictate both the X and Y axes. A drill sensor, on the other hand, measures the Z-axis.
The spindle features an ER16 collet which is able to accommodate ¼ inch (8mm) mill bits shank – it can support various mill bits including single flute mill bit (all-round mill bit) for woodworking, single flute plexiglass mill bit (designed for better finishing on acrylic), positive/negative mill bit (optimized for better finishing on the top and bottom panel surfaces), and single flute aluminum mill bit (with optimized spiral angle) for aluminum working.
Many found the cutting capabilities of the spindle to be decent. The unit is able to mill, cut and engrave with a precision that’s comparable to most top desktop CNC milling machines. It has a maximum cut depth of 1.3 inches (35mm), mechanical repeatability of 0.004 inches and a programmable resolution of also 0.004 inches.
It’s compact but quite reliable because it can provide up to 0.1mm mechanical accuracy when carving/engraving designs onto a surface. The omnidirectional wheel design allows the unit to cut precisely according to the uploaded design.
Besides that, the patented sensor system updates the position of the machine relative to the workpiece boundaries 100 times per second which effectively reduces latency between the machine’s software and the sensors.
This feature enhances its cutting accuracy, allowing it to deliver the same results you would get when using a conventional flatbed CNC machine. You can create almost anything with it including furniture, signage, logos and skateboards.
It’s able to drill more complicated shapes too because of its omnidirectional mobility which allows it to navigate and move over the surface of workpieces with accuracy – you have to physically reposition the workpiece or the machine in many flatbed CNC machines so as to drill more complicated shapes.
The sensors of the Goliath are equally able to autocorrect its drilling route if it experiences nodes or slipping in the material it’s cutting.
The machine starts by first cutting the profiles (the outline of shapes or components) as they don’t affect its motion and then drills large holes or carves out pockets while moving backwards so that it doesn’t fall into what it has just already carved.
The fact that at least one or two rollers are always directly in contact with work surfaces also helps prevent the movement of the machine from being affected by either grooves or profiles that are already cut.
Moreover, although the majority of the debris and dust is rolled over or pushed aside by the wheel, many did attest that the precision of the machine isn’t really affected by this action. Some did mention though that the spindle positional stability isn’t quite good and that the unit can experience position loss due to vibrations and the material/cutting resistance.
With regards to the milling speed, the robot seems to work fairly fast. The maximum spindle speed is 27,000 rpm while the maximum feed rate with no load is about 25000 mm/min (100 ipm). These are relatively fast speeds meaning you won’t have to wait long to get most of your design cut.
The Working Area
There’s virtually no work area limits with this CNC machine due to its omnidirectional wheel design and unique sensor system that can be repositioned multiple times. With traditional CNC machines, you are often confined to small or certain-sized workspace since they are stationary tools with physical limitations.
However, with the Goliath being positioned directly on a surface and moving freely on it without any constraint, you get a boundless work area since the work area is basically the workpiece’s surface.
The machine’s position sensor system enables it to measure the size of the workpiece you’re cutting and understand its position. Once you place it on the material and set the pillar sensors, the system will triangulate the position of the unit so that it knows where exactly it is regardless of the size of the workpiece.
After it defines the workspace, it’s able to cover every square inch of the entire area seamlessly. The sensors have a 9.8ft range hence can allow the machine to cover a work surface that’s as big as 9.8 x 8.5ft without moving outside the predefined work area.
The use of position sensors also means that you won’t have to change the position of the material like you would with other CNC machines that are limited to only a certain cutting area. The robot works backwards from the cutting area such that the wheels avoid the cuts hence can’t fall into the section that has been already carved.
The machine can as well orient in a way that it can mill up to the edge of a workpiece, which is an advantage as it allows you to place your drawing/design wherever you like so as to minimize the waste of material. The model does come too with two panel extensions which are add-ons that enable it to go all the way to the very end of a corner on a workpiece.
Another useful feature is the self-route correcting function where the sensors are able to autocorrect the unit’s drilling route in case it experiences problems like nodes in the material it’s cutting or the wheels losing traction.
In general, the Goliath CNC offers greater workplace flexibility than any flatbed CNC machine. The work area can be as small or as large as you want it to be. It’s a feature that makes it particularly ideal for those looking to create at scale since it gives you the ability to do projects of any size.
You can cut out big pieces for large-scale projects like a chair or a table with precise measurements. Plus, since the unit is portable you can use it wherever you want or even drag it to your job site to cut out pieces automatically.
The only major limitation is that it doesn’t have a mechanism for holding the workpiece in place which might be a problem when working with small workpieces considering that it mills by moving.
Goliath has sufficient power and cut depth to cut, mill, and engrave a range of different materials. However, the fact that it operates by moving over a surface limits it to just soft materials – cutting anything hard like solid wood boards or strong metals will become a challenge. It might not make any impact or yield the desired results.
The materials it can work with very well include plastic, acrylic, softwood, plywood, MDF and soft metal like aluminum and copper. It basically works with the same materials that other traditional CNC machines support.
Usability and Software Compatibility
Operating this machine is simple. It has a user-friendly design that will appeal to experienced makers as well as beginners. It uses the company’s control software known as Slingshot which is a custom-designed CAM program that generates the Gcode/path of the machine.
Unlike other existing CAM software though, you can manage the machine’s movements using Slingshot and as well perform several other functions.
You can import files of your design, draw simple shapes, set the type of cut, cut depth, and run the panel detection phase. There’s a JOG mode too that you can use to move the machine manually or to a specific location on the workspace by entering the X and Y axes coordinates.
The software is accessed through a computer where you download it by inserting serial numbers found on the machine and the position sensors.
The communication between the PC and the machine is only via Wi-Fi and all the controls are done through the computer. You select the specific project you want to make, set all the cutting parameters and send the file to the machine which then executes the commands within the file. You can even monitor the project progress right from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
The Slingshot software can work on Windows, iOS and Android devices. The CAD file formats it supports include .svg, .dwg and .ai. You can design projects using CAD software like Autodesk AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw, or even download projects from online libraries and then upload the files to the software where you can send them to the machine.
You won’t find the Goliath CNC challenging to assemble at all because it’s shipped almost fully assembled. There’s no gantry, spindle or milling bed that requires any setting up. Inside the box includes the Goliath itself, sensor basement (x2), positioning sensor (x2), thickness adjuster (x6), panel extension (x2), power cable and the power cable stand.
Levelling the Goliath is equally straightforward since it utilizes the embedded sensors to calibrate the Z-axis automatically so that it doesn’t drill haphazardly. The unit also comes equipped with an auto-stop safety feature that stops it as soon as it overturns, gets bumped or accidentally falls from the working area.
The company has reliable customer service that can be reached via their website. They respond fast to customer queries and work to solve most of the issues that customers raise. There are a few community forums too where you can get to see the views of other users as well as access more information about the unit.