We Make the Tools that are Making the Future.
ShopBot Tools designs,
builds and distributes its
tools from its headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.
photographs © Jessica Silver
Founded in 1996 in Durham, North Carolina, ShopBot Tools, Inc., designs, manufactures and distributes professional CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) routers for milling, drilling, and cutting of wood, metals, plastic and other materials -- powerfully, precisely, and affordably.
Now celebrating our 15th year of technology innovation, ShopBot's digital fabrication tools are carving out the future of prototyping, production, manufacturing, grassroots 'making,' and education. Today almost 6,000 ShopBots are at work in small shops and larger production facilities across the U.S. and around the world. They are used in a range of production operations from signmaking, cabinetmaking and all types of woodworking, to producing stealth fighters or manufacturing hi-tech housing.
ShopBot founder Ted Hall created the company to make the power and precision of CNC technology affordable by individual 'makers' and small to midsize manufacturers. Rather than having to invest $100K or more to use CNC technology, ShopBot Tools enables the use of digital fabrication with an investment of as little as $5000.
ShopBot is the innovator in affordable digital fabrication. Here are some of our key accomplishments in this arena:
- ShopBot pioneered affordable CNC oriented to use by individuals.
The "PR" in the naming convention of our full size tools refers to Personal
Robotics. As Ted Hall says, "ShopBots are to large CNC machining centers
as the PCs are to mainframe computers." These are tools that whether
they are used in small shops or on factory production lines, enable
and empower the capability and creativity of individuals.
- ShopBot further makes CNC tools easily usable by small shops and individuals, by providing outstanding customer support & training
- We make robust and rigid equipment that is still agile and mobile (and more easily and economically shipped and moved). We make CNC tools that also deliver power and performance with less electricity.
- Through our commitment to continuing product innovation, we developed the ShopBot Buddy and PowerStick concept for highly configurable CNC; recognized by the industry as a Challenger Award Finalist
- We've partnered with Thermwood, original innovators in CNC tools, to bring a high-end cabinet program to small cabinet shops (One of our customers has referred to this as 'NASA partnering with Apple')
- We've worked with MIT on developing advanced housing construction methods
- In 2011, we introduced the first affordable 5-Axis CNC, another example of our technology leadership
At ShopBot, we want to help ensure the future of American innovation. Recent years have found ShopBot Tools increasingly used in lean manufacturing processes, in community-based hackerspaces and TechShop workshops, and in educational institutions eager to provide students with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills that are marketable and needed in today's work world.
About Our Founder & CEO
ShopBot Tools began in the workshop/barn of Ted Hall more than 15 years ago. A professor of neuroscience at Duke University, Ted's hobby was building plywood boats, and he was becoming frustrated by the amount of time it was taking to cut the panels for curved hulls with hand power tools. He thought a computerized cutting tool called a CNC router would be helpful, but didn't have the $40,000 that even a used, entry-level machine would cost. So he started thinking about a practical way to make one of the tools less expensively - after all, they seemed to be just large plotters that moved a cutter instead of a pen.
Ted's first model worked surprisingly well ... and working out the details of the tool while growing excited over the possibilities of affordable CNC led him to begin spending more time designing tools than building boats.
Ted continues to lead the company from its headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, spearheading ShopBot's ongoing innovation in software and hardware design.