Building your ShopBot

Why we construct each tool the way we do.

Our guiding philosophy at ShopBot is to provide professional CNC tools that deliver power and precision at affordable prices. To that end, we optimize the construction of our tools to provide maximum performance for your investment. In addition to performance, we consider issues such as ease of shipment, tool set-up and configuration.

BEAMS. Linear motion across the table (“Y”-Axis) is supported by the Main Beam on all ShopBots (except the Desktop model). This beam is the major component of the gantry on full-size, gantry ShopBots and the horizontal superstructure on the ShopBot Buddy®. It contains the rail system on which the YZ-Car moves. This beam is a heavy extrusion, designed by ShopBot to provide a substantial structural core for our tools. It is extruded to ShopBot specifications by Bishop-Wisecarver, who also press ‘hardened’ steel rails for ‘V’-bearings wheels into the beam to tight tolerances.

MOTION. We chose ‘V’-bearing motion for our tools because of the smooth, binding-free, movement of this system. It is a system with high resistance to shop dust and cutting debris [note that we use a closed-bearing, linear system on our Desktop tools to optimize them for smaller applications where debris accumulation is less of an issue]. V-bearing wheels are used on a wide range of motion and automation equipment and are recognized to provide extended, no-maintenance, service in challenging environments.

ASSEMBLY METHODS. In addition to our extruded aluminum beams, ShopBots are constructed of thick steel components, CNC-bent to provide stiffness and integrity, and then massively bolted for rigidity.

Bolting Pattern on Beam

Bolting Pattern on Leg

Though we weld certain base components, the primary attachments in ShopBots are bolted with an aircraft-style, wide-surface, and distributed pattern that insures fixed positioning. We use this attachment system because it permits efficient shipping and convenient set-up, configuration, and re-configuration of tools. Besides being robust, this attachment strategy addresses the challenges in busy shops; we know that accidental drops, impacts, or collisions with materials, pallets, forklifts and the like, or even crashes of the equipment itself can slightly deflect a joint. With a welded joint, such deflections would leave it nearly impossible to repair or realign. If it is ever necessary, a bolted joint can easily be adjusted and correctly aligned.

RACK & PINION VS SCREW DRIVE. Thoughtful opinions can differ on the best drive mechanism for machine tools. Screw drive mechanisms have advantages in terms of low-friction and smoothness. Rack & pinion systems are simple, robust, and easily maintained. ShopBot uses rack & pinion on our large tools and a screw-drive mechanism on our smaller, Desktop tools. We believe these are optimal choices for the types of applications the various size tools are used for and will provide you with the most trouble-free production, year-after-year.

Rack and pinion mechanisms on our Gantry and ShopBot Buddy® tools deliver trouble-free power. They require occasional lubrication, but otherwise are maintenance free. They are impervious to normal cutting dust and debris and require no fussy alignment. The rack and pinion mechanism is combined with low-backlash, tapered-hob gear motors.

The Desktop ShopBot utilizes Teflon-coated Acme screws with antibacklash nuts. Each screw is manufactured to length as an integral component of the motor rotor. This drives system gives the Desktop a smooth, precise, no-backlash motion.

Receiving Your ShopBot

DESKTOP. ShopBot Desktop CNC’s are fully-assembled and tested at ShopBot then packed in a small crate for shipping to you. This crate will arrive by truck. It takes 2 people to unpack and comfortably remove the Desktop from its crate. It is then ready to plug into a standard 110 (US) or 220 (International) volt circuit and start work.

SHOPBOT BUDDY®. The ShopBot Buddy is fully assembled and tested at ShopBot then placed in a large crate. One of the walls of this crate is designed as a ramp, so that at your site the ShopBot Buddy can be rolled off the crate and placed into working position. If your ShopBot Buddy is equipped with a spindle, you will need to have an electrician wire it into your power system.

FULL SIZE, GANTRY TOOLS. Full-size ShopBots are typically shipped partially assembled, as four modules. Shipping typically involves at least two packages: a large, low crate that contains all components of the tool except table sides and rails; and a separate, long, narrow container with the table sides and rails. There may be additional packages depending on the size of the tool and the included accessories. Some accessories, such as vacuum hold-down blowers, may be drop-shipped from their vendors. We ship tools partially assembled in order to reduce shipping costs and energy impact. Having the tool arrive in modular components also allows considerable flexibility in positioning it where access may be limited.

Where possible, we recommend set up on site, by you or your personnel. The 4 modules go together straightforwardly requiring about a day or 2 of work, depending on accessories. Participating in setting up the tool provides considerable familiarization with its operation and maintenance.

We offer two alternatives to setting up the tool yourself:

  1. We can send a ShopBot technician to set up your tool and additionally provide training to your personnel. In this case, you are charged for the installation and training as well as the technician’s travel expenses.
  2. We can ship a fully assembled ShopBot to your site. For this option, the tool is modified by the addition of a welded-base that facilitates fork-lift handling. We assemble and test your tool at ShopBot and use a sealed-container arrangement with the trucking company to insure its safe arrival at your site.

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Each new ShopBot tool comes bundled with two powerful software programs to create CNC projects.

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