XS3 Faceting Machine Product Page

The History of the XS3.

As you can see from my machine design pages, I have been building my own machines for decades. They slowly evolved, until I decided to build myself my "Ultimate Machine". The XS3 (Built to EXCESS, get it? haha.) was made from stainless steel bar stock. It incorporated an integrated angle meter with a large LED display and was equipped with robust ball bearings throughout.

I had made further improvements, after the first model, so the prototype was siting around. Someone talked me into selling it to them, and they really liked it and let people know about it.

I found myself manufacturing them. At the time, I had a full-time job, and BATT Laps to make. With my hundred mile a day commute, this gave me a 110 Hour Work Week. About eighty have been sold.

I could not find a shop that would make the parts on CNC equipment for me, because of the small volumes, so had to find a way to make them more manufacturable. Also, the $1,750 cost put them out of reach for most people, and the machining and polishing of stainless steel was killing me.

After considerable background effort, I introduced a battery-powered CMOS version, made of polyacetal, as a marketplace surprise.

This announcement created mixed reactions, depending on the observer's being a consumer or a manufacturer. Obviously, in this small niche market, new innovations only happen every generation, if that, so people reading old Lapidary Journals from back then would see their "New" machines all the time.

This addition to the XS3 page did not always get a warm welcome from some manufacturers and dealers, and there was screaming and wailing.

Really, some people just CAN'T take a joke..

Unknown to me, at the time, the Graves Company was in the middle of wanting to offer some product improvements to their popular reasonably-priced product line. They bought all the rights to the machine, putting me out of the faceting machine business for a long time. The rights included the new circuitry, which shares no parts with the earlier XS3's. (Most of the parts in the XS3 are no longer manufactured- The Electronics Industry moves fast.), but I support the existing 80 units in use, and intend to continue to do so for the existing initial customers. I have seen people selling XS3's that write "Gearloose warranties them forever". (I thought I was the one who got to write those things.) Obviously, a machine that has been in use for years has had any manufacturing defects resolved long ago, or they would not be in use. Of course I will maintain or repair them as long as I have or can get spare parts.

The Graves units are just beginning to be manufactured in serious quantities. New product launches are demanding and entail new machinery and techniques, and long, hard work.

Here is it, with a base.


Was it worth it?

How did it feel to stop making them? Well, kind of like someone turned off the treadmill.

Is it a good business? I suppose it could be if you are well-captitalized and have CNC equipment.

Now that the frenzy is over, let's do some bean counting:

Selling Price for the XS3 head: $1,750.00

Cost of Stainless metal stock in 2006 prices: $145.00

Purchased parts:

Electronics: $270.00

Mechanical: $373.00

(Includes WJet parts.)

Before one cut is made, this leaves $962.00

Minus Overhead and G & A,inc. tools, insurance, SE Tax and supplies:$174.00

Machining Times:

Two major parts: 16 Hrs.

Quill brazing & machining: 2 Hrs.

Latch& Clamp: 4 Hrs.

Angle shaft,Braze & machine: 1 Hr.

Mast base: Machine, chill, machine: 2 Hrs.

Polishing: 4 Hrs.

Assemble and calibrate: 4 Hours.

Customer service budgeted: 4 Hrs.

Total Time: 37 Hours.

Hourly Pay: $4.70

Current Federal Minimum Wage: $6.55

CONCLUSION: Get a job at Wal-Mart!

This can be a good business if an established company has a manufacturing base in place, and other products established. If you own a lathe and a miller, you can make a nice machine for yourself. Making one is fun and easy.

Now make eighty of them.

If you are an individual and want to start a business manufacturing these machines, for a crowd that is fussy and hard to please (As any good faceter or other craftsperson is), you need to talk to the following people first:

An Accountant.

A Psychiatrist.


The XS mounted to an Ultra-Tech base:

The XS mounted to an early Graves base:

The XS mounted to a Polymetrics Scintillator base:

Some Available Options were: 1/10 degree reading with blue display on a right-masted XS3, and at the rear, a 1/100th Degree-reading green display on a Left-Masted XS3.

(Some people are distracted by the rapid changing of the final hundredths decade.) As experience teaches, reading an angle at 1/100 degree, allows "Cutting to the numbers". The real issue is repeatbility, and if the meter repeats to a count or two, this is sufficient.

A few interesting specifications:

Mast: 400 Series stainless, casehardened to Rockwell C 60.

Mast Bearing: Rated , 1,400 Pounds load.

Position Sensor MBTF: 10 Million cycles.

Angle trunnion Bearings: Mean dynamic load rating: 650 Pounds.

Quill Bearings: 545 Pounds MDL.

All bearings are sealed.

Accuracy: Calibrated 0-90 to 2 arc-minutes.

Resolution: +/- 00.03 degrees/Quadrant

Linearity, 0-90: 0.06%

Coarse calibration is locked and pinned at final assembly. An adjustment is provided for calibration with different powers supplies, etc.