After selling the SCM Powercarver for almost 5 years, we decided to discontinue the entire product line in early January due to quality issues, back orders and no idea when our orders would ship. In November and December, we received a large number of complaints about turbine failures. Some Powercarvers were literally falling apart. We received tools back from customers with failures amounting from only a few hours of use with the brass inserts coming out - See Photo Below & Thumbnails above, plunger caps unscrewing, spindle and factory new turbine assemblies falling out of the tools and hose barbs detaching from the air tube. If you were one of the dozens we gave refunds too, we have a new tool in the works designed specifically for carving, not a reworked or reversed engineered Ney Hurricane or Shofu Lab Air-Z dental lab handpiece.
The Vortex XJ7 design was driven by Debbi LerMond, an equine sculptor of 50+ years carving experience. After using just about every carving tool known, she wanted a high speed carving tool that makes sense for artists, especially for artists with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). She found every tool on the market was designed for dental laboratory work. She found that most of the dental high speed carvers or tools based on dental industry standards failed to meet the demands placed on the tool by sculpting/carving artists. Debbi decided to design a new high speed carving tool from the ground up based on the specs she needed to accomplish highly detailed carved sculptures. She wanted the tool to be lightweight but durable, have low fatigue so it could be used for extended use, little to no maintenance, and actually carve the work without having to fight the tool. To accomplish this, the tool needed to have a lightweight housing to relieve hand and wrist fatigue. The bulk of the weight needed to be located at the bur end, so the tool could do the carving while sparing the wrist from useless weight. To solve the plunger dilemma to make bur insertion and removal easier for people with hand and wrist ailments, she helped design a push button assembly. The resulting tool evolved into the Vortex XJ7. The Vortex XJ7 housing is made of aluminum and is type 3 anodized to 6 microns. This increases the strength to that of stainless steel without the weight. The turbine assembly is contained in a nose cone made of C360 brass. The brass turbine assembly moves the center of gravity towards the bur. This not only provides greater control, it reduces fatigue on the artist's wrist. The turbine assembly is contained in a brass nose cone. Inside the nose cone are the major components comprised of the bearings, spindle and impeller. A unique feature of the Vortex XJ7 turbine assembly is pre-loaded. This means the components are assembled and torqued to specifications to yield long bearing life and precision turnout (eccentricity). The ABEC rated bearings are contained in stainless steel roller cages and phenolic retainers are used to obtain long life and the highest speed. Once the ball bearings are inserted into the bearing assemblies, they are permanently lubricated. Since the bearings are isolated from the impellers, virtually no particulate matter from the compressed air from the air compressor enters the bearings.
The spindle is used to hold a carving bur. The Vortex XJ7 utilizes a push button spindle so it's easy to insert and remove the bur. By pushing the plunger 1/8", it engages the spindle to open it for you to allow a user to insert or remove a bur easily with a thumb and forefinger. Other tools require you to Push-And-Force the bur out of the spindle. High speed carving tools are powered by directing a jet of high pressure air against the vanes on a circular disc called an impeller. Most carving tools use a single air jet. We found this type of design required more air at higher pressure. In addition, a single jet only exposed the impeller vanes to air only once per revolution, rendering them inefficient. We decided to utilize 7 air jet port injectors, meaning that every time the impeller has spun one complete revolution, each vane received a "boost". This maximized the available energy extracted from the compressed air supply. By increasing the number of vanes to 24, we were able to provide a boost of 168 for every revolution of the impeller. This provided more power while using less air consumption making the Vortex XJ7 a much quieter tool than the other high speed carving tools on the market. Once the air exited the impeller, the air needed to be vented from the tool. While it could be simple to just have a hole in the housing to let the air vent, there was a huge side effect -- the noise! The noise from the tool needed to be reduced before venting. While some high speed carving tools did nothing but just vent the air, other tools stuffed felt inside the housing to act as a muffler and absorb cleaner and/or oil lubrication. This worked for a while, but in the long term, the felt became saturated with oil and leaked out. Since the Vortex XJ7 extracted most of the energy from the air, the noise was reduced considerably. The housing acted like a muffler, without felt, and was vented out the rear of the tool via the exhaust ports. Debbi found she could increase efficiency by adding 4 exhaust ports facing forward. This provided a solution to blow away debris from the immediate cutting surface area.
Over the years of using many different carving tools, Debbi found that all of the air hoses connected to the tools used stiff 1/4 inch diameter vinyl or polyurethane tubing. The stiffness and weight of the hose put a disproportionate amount of pressure on the end of the tool causing the tool to become unbalanced and dragged the end of the tool down more than the front of the tool. The Vortex XJ7 housing air supply was connected by using an 1/8" outside diameter hose using extremely flexible tubing made by Tygon. Debbi found the Tygon hose so flexible, that it reminded her of spaghetti. This eliminated all noticeable movement restrictions caused by the heavier and stiffer hose. The Vortex X7J will be available for pre-order with shipping in March. The list price will be $595. The pre-order price will be $295 for the first 100 units and will include the following items: The Vortex X7J lifetime housing warranty and 1 year non-commercial turbine warranty.
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