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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 CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) routers for milling, drilling, and cutting of wood, plastic, metals and other materials -- powerfully, precisely, and affordably.
Now celebrating our 18th year of technology innovation, ShopBot's digital fabrication tools are carving out the future of manufacturing, production, prototyping, grassroots 'making,' and education. Today almost 7,000 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 plastic trimming, to aluminum drilling to signmaking, cabinetmaking and all types of woodworking, as well as to producing stealth fighters and manufacturing hi-tech housing.
ShopBot founder Ted Hall created the company to make the power and precision of digital technology available to and affordable for individual 'makers' and small to midsize manufacturers. Rather than having to invest $100K or more to use CNC technology, a ShopBot enables the use of digital fabrication with an investment of as little as $5000.
ShopBot is the leading innovator in affordable digital fabrication:
- 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 when used in small shops or on factory production lines, enable
and empower the capability and creativity of individuals.
- ShopBot insures the digital productivity of shops of all sizes by making tools that are easy-to-use, easy-to-get-started with, easy-to-get-into-production, and by providing outstanding customer support & training.
- We make robust equipment that is nonetheless agile and mobile, and easily and economically shipped and moved. Our CNC tools deliver power and performance with minimal electrical draw.
- In our 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; and in delivering "FabLabs" to schools and community organizations around the world.
- In 2011, we introduced the first affordable 5-Axis CNC router, another example of our technology leadership.
- We partnered with Autodesk to get 50, ShopBot Desktop CNCs into classrooms around the country and show teachers how to make digital fabrication easier.
- In 2013, we introduced the Handibot -- a first Smart Power Tool that will use digital technology to put task-oriented "apps" for cutting and machining into anyones hands, on a jobsite or in the workshop.
At ShopBot, we want to help ensure the future of American innovation and manufacturing productivity. ShopBot's tools are increasingly used in lean manufacturing processes, in community-based makerspace 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 18 years ago. A professor of neuroscience at Duke University, In Ted's spare time, he wanted to build 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 one of the computerized cutting tool called a CNC router would be helpful, but didn't have the $50,000 that even a used, entry-level machine would cost. He also didn't see why an engineering staff was required to create designs, or a technical staff to run the tool. So he started thinking about a practical way to make one of the tools less expensive and more accessible - 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.