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ShapeOko is a dead simple Open-Source desktop CNC machine with an estimate build price of about $300. Get into CNC without going broke!
125 backers pledged $11,078 to help bring this project to life.

Progress, one 3D model at a time

Posted by Edward Ford (Creator)

When all you’re doing is drawing, doing price comparisons, and checking shipping charges, a post on those topics seems less than appealing.

With that said, we want to make sure everyone knows that we are definitely working on the project and making progress towards completion every single day. In fact, we have completed a new digital mill design about every 3 days since the beginning of the project. (That’s an average.)

Without further ado, here are the 7 most recent designs. This render isn’t nearly as nice as the one Peter did for us a few weeks back, but we hope it is good enough to convey the general idea. To give you a sense of scale, the mills are sitting on 2 6ft craftsman worktables sitting side by side.

Those are 7 fully detailed 3D models of desktop CNC machines (belts, bolts, nuts, angles, burned edges, etc). Two of the designs we had floating around prior to the kickstarter project, and needed only to adapt them to take advantage of the makerslide linear rail system. As for the other 5, well… those just sort of came up.

For the most part, the mills are in order of completed design. With each iteration, you can see it getting a little smaller, a lot sturdier, and a little less expensive. Right now we feel like we’re really close to nailing the design and having something physical to show everyone very soon.

From that point, there will still be a lot of work left nailing down final pricing, and ironing out the details. That will be followed by finishing up the documentation, and making some videos on how to assemble and use the new mill. Seems like a lot of work, but we’re all feeling like it’s right around the corner.

This is getting exciting!

As a side note, it's amazing to design in 3D. Everything but the physical testing can be done digitally, saving time and money. As you can see, even with the over funding of this kickstarter project, we still wouldn't have had enough to physically prototype all 7 of those designs. Plus, with the addition of makerslide, because it's not available yet, without 3D we wouldn't have been able to even prototype. That's pretty amazing and very cool in my book.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Miguel Angelo Oliveira on

      Thank you for the explanation. You are indeed correct on the completion rate, there is a lot of stuff that needs to happens before things start being built. I can't wait to start playing with my ShapeOko.

    2. Edward Ford Creator on

      Miguel - No worries about the software. There will be a basic setup and documentation that will get everyone going with their kits. However, I'm sure people will want to start experimenting with other software options rather quickly and we want to be as helpful as we can with all of those choices.

      As far as the % complete goes: The physical assembly of the machine probably only accounts for 1% of the project :-) There are lots of non-tangible tasks that had to be completed in order to get to the point where we are actually assembling something (like creating the 3D model, choosing the parts, finding the right vendor, ordering the parts, etc. I think (hope) you'll be surprised at how fast things are going to move once we get all of the parts in.

    3. Missing avatar

      Miguel Angelo Oliveira on

      Thank you very much for the pictures. It is looking really professional but I must say that it does not look to be 60% complete - more like 30 to 40%. :)
      Please do not forget the Mac and Linux people when selecting the software tools. I looked at the Phlat plugins and they do look interesting and Mac friendly.

    4. Edward Ford Creator on

      I'll see what I can do. Tonight I'll be going to @pumpingstation1 in chicago for their monthly DIY CNC night. If time permits, I'll post something when I get back. otherwise It'll have to be tomorrow night.

      On a related note: I finally got a chance to test the 4 axis open source cnc controller from along with EMC2. It's quite a bit more involved than using grbl, but has some significant pluses: like an interfact to watch progress of jobs being run. I'll post an update about that as well.

    5. Missing avatar

      Miguel Angelo Oliveira on

      Would it be possible for you to post a picture of what the 60% built prototype looks like?
      I have great plans for my ShapeOko with the rotary tool and everything else :) and it would be nice to see the progress. I feel that a picture of it (including the probable mess on the workbench) would be a very nice and easy update to the project.

    6. Edward Ford Creator on

      @Enrique: Maybe :-)

      I thought that your message was more of a statement, just a piece of information you were passing along, but didn't necessarily require a reply. I apologize for that.

      Right now the prototype is 60% built, but we're waiting for pieces to arrive before we can move any further. It's been a lot of "hurry up and wait".

      I can assure you this project is moving along and as soon as any noteworthy information comes up, I"ll be sure to post it.

    7. Missing avatar

      Enrique Condes on

      Am I the only backer starting to get a little anxious about not getting new info on the project and messages not being answered?

    8. Edward Ford Creator on

      I'm glad you're engaged in the project.

      No need to freak out. Big, small, light, heavy, are all relative terms. The scale of ShapeOko is remaining the same. It's a desktop CNC machine, not too big, not too small. Sort of like a breadbox :-)

      The original shapeoko had a footprint of about 12" x 12". The new ShapeOko will have a footprint no smaller than the original and no bigger than about 15"x15". With that said, the working area (cutting envelope) is somewhere around 10 inches on the X&Y axis, and 3-4inches on the Z axis.

    9. Missing avatar

      Enrique Condes on

      It looks interesting and exciting. But the "a little smaller with each iteration" part worries me, since if it is too small, maybe I will not be able to use it for all the things I had thought of. Specifically, using it to cut holes in plastic boxes. Am I worrying too much?