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Make reader Anders Haglund sent word of Edward Ford’s Project ShapeOko, which strives to build a complete and open DIY desktop CNC machine (including electronics) for around $300. [Thanks, Anders!]

Have a look around the DIY CNC scene and you will notice the lack of simple, low cost, straight forward build options. We want to fix that. For the last four years we have been designing, redesigning, and building what we hope to be a CNC machine that anyone can build for about $300. Did I mention that cost even includes the electronics to run the machine? Unlike other projects where you’re shelling out $1,000 for just the frame and maybe motors, shapeOko includes everything you will need to turn your ideas from just a crazy thought into a tangible item.

Adam Flaherty

I make cool stuff and write about other people making cool stuff on makezine.com. If you have something you think I should see, send me a tip.


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Comments

  1. Timothy Gray says:

    That $300.00 kit will cost you $500.00 if you read the link, and they do not plan on ever selling kits, they completely gave up on that.  So I’m not seeing what the use is in donating to these guys other than to help fund someones hobby.   I can see it if they release ALL designs, schematics, pcb designs, software ,etc as Open Source and free to the world.

    1. Edward Ford says:

      @facebook-647299788:disqus : Actually, that’s exactly what we’re doing, releasing *all* designs, schematics, software, assembly notes, etc under the Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Licence. Outlined in the Kickstarter project text (after the section quoted by Make):
      “If nothing else, this project is open. Nobody wants to get locked into some proprietary  platform, and nobody wants to spend their money on a machine just to learn they will need to spend another $500 on software to run it. With that in mind, we built the entire process around open source components. From CAD and CAM software to the CNC controller; every step has an open source solution. Did we mention the entire project itself is open source? Every nut, every bolt, every belt, fully documented with part numbers and vendor list. Do with it as you please!”

      I’ve been working on this for almost 6 years with the sole goal being to design/document/release the plans for almost anyone to build the machine for about $300. The kickstarter funding is going towards R&D so that idea can become a reality. I’m looking to make $0 off the project.

      In fact, I tried giving away the mills that were a result of the R&D through the kickstarter campaign but ran into some issues (you can read more about that here: http://www.shapeoko.com/archives/260).

      1. Anonymous says:

         Do you have a link to the design files and software?  I was hunting around sourceforge but couldn’t find them.

      2. Anonymous says:

         Do you have a link to the design files and software?  I was hunting around sourceforge but couldn’t find them.

    2. Edward Ford says:

      @facebook-647299788:disqus : Actually, that’s exactly what we’re doing, releasing *all* designs, schematics, software, assembly notes, etc under the Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Licence. Outlined in the Kickstarter project text (after the section quoted by Make):
      “If nothing else, this project is open. Nobody wants to get locked into some proprietary  platform, and nobody wants to spend their money on a machine just to learn they will need to spend another $500 on software to run it. With that in mind, we built the entire process around open source components. From CAD and CAM software to the CNC controller; every step has an open source solution. Did we mention the entire project itself is open source? Every nut, every bolt, every belt, fully documented with part numbers and vendor list. Do with it as you please!”

      I’ve been working on this for almost 6 years with the sole goal being to design/document/release the plans for almost anyone to build the machine for about $300. The kickstarter funding is going towards R&D so that idea can become a reality. I’m looking to make $0 off the project.

      In fact, I tried giving away the mills that were a result of the R&D through the kickstarter campaign but ran into some issues (you can read more about that here: http://www.shapeoko.com/archives/260).

    3. You obviously didn’t read the link yourself, Timothy.

    4. You obviously didn’t read the link yourself, Timothy.

  2. James Long says:

    There are several in this price range already.

    1. Does that include electronics? The idea behind this project is to make it as open as possible and to include everything you’d need to get up and running at that price point. With your suggestion, you’d still have to get a driver board and other items that would bring the price up considerably.

    2. Edward Ford says:

      The zen-toolworks CNC is a pretty neat little mill, and they’ve been doing it for a while now and have built  up a great little community around the design. If you’re looking for a little less of a DIY project, that might be a good route to take.

      However, @adfm:twitter hit the Nail on the head: You’ll still need Drivers, Power Supply, dremel. Here’s an excerpt from the amazon description: 

      “You will need a 3 Axis Stepper Motor Driver to manage each motor, a spindle/cutter (a Dremel would work) and a DC power supply for the driver. You will also need a computer with a standard printer port and CNC software. – You will also need a way to mount and secure the spindle/cutter tightly to the Z-axis plate on the machine.”

      1. CNC machines are not all created equal however!  The rigidity of the rig, motor power ratings and mounts, lead screw designs, bearings, so many things will affect what people can do with different mills.  I wonder what sorts of materials people want to cut: foam, PCB’s, soft wood, hard wood, aluminum, steel?  It’s tough to compare lower priced mills like apples, they all have different specs and capabilities.

        1. Edward Ford says:

          Good point Jeff. With shapeoko, we’re looking mainly at soft woods, foams, and plastics. A lot of a mill’s performance also depends on the spindle. Having the ability to vary your speed can make a world of difference. 
          IMO, two of the most important things to look at when considering a small mill is “point of entry” (price) and upgradability (is that a word?) (zenworks does a great job with both). If a user can get in for a decent price and then have an avenue to make the machine better (for instance by swapping out plastic components with metal ones), then that’s a good place to start for a beginner.As opposed to dropping some serious coin on a machine just to find out that this whole “CNC thing” might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Again, just my 2 cents.

        2. Edward Ford says:

          Good point Jeff. With shapeoko, we’re looking mainly at soft woods, foams, and plastics. A lot of a mill’s performance also depends on the spindle. Having the ability to vary your speed can make a world of difference. 
          IMO, two of the most important things to look at when considering a small mill is “point of entry” (price) and upgradability (is that a word?) (zenworks does a great job with both). If a user can get in for a decent price and then have an avenue to make the machine better (for instance by swapping out plastic components with metal ones), then that’s a good place to start for a beginner.As opposed to dropping some serious coin on a machine just to find out that this whole “CNC thing” might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Again, just my 2 cents.

      2. CNC machines are not all created equal however!  The rigidity of the rig, motor power ratings and mounts, lead screw designs, bearings, so many things will affect what people can do with different mills.  I wonder what sorts of materials people want to cut: foam, PCB’s, soft wood, hard wood, aluminum, steel?  It’s tough to compare lower priced mills like apples, they all have different specs and capabilities.

      3. CNC machines are not all created equal however!  The rigidity of the rig, motor power ratings and mounts, lead screw designs, bearings, so many things will affect what people can do with different mills.  I wonder what sorts of materials people want to cut: foam, PCB’s, soft wood, hard wood, aluminum, steel?  It’s tough to compare lower priced mills like apples, they all have different specs and capabilities.

      4. CNC machines are not all created equal however!  The rigidity of the rig, motor power ratings and mounts, lead screw designs, bearings, so many things will affect what people can do with different mills.  I wonder what sorts of materials people want to cut: foam, PCB’s, soft wood, hard wood, aluminum, steel?  It’s tough to compare lower priced mills like apples, they all have different specs and capabilities.

      5. CNC machines are not all created equal however!  The rigidity of the rig, motor power ratings and mounts, lead screw designs, bearings, so many things will affect what people can do with different mills.  I wonder what sorts of materials people want to cut: foam, PCB’s, soft wood, hard wood, aluminum, steel?  It’s tough to compare lower priced mills like apples, they all have different specs and capabilities.

  3. James Long says:

    There are several in this price range already.

  4. James Long says:

    There are several in this price range already.

  5. James Long says:

    There are several in this price range already.

  6. Great design project! 
    I appreciate that it is totally “open source”, including the physical design, but I don’t understand how physical designs can be released under an “open source license”.  Don’t those only cover software?

    1. Perhaps Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is more appropriate? http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW

      1. Perfect.  Now I get it.  Thank you.

        Being a registered US patent agent, I felt compelled to create a “patent” page on freedomdefined.org.  We will see how long it lasts :-) http://freedomdefined.org/Patent

      2. Perfect.  Now I get it.  Thank you.

        Being a registered US patent agent, I felt compelled to create a “patent” page on freedomdefined.org.  We will see how long it lasts :-) http://freedomdefined.org/Patent

      3. Perfect.  Now I get it.  Thank you.

        Being a registered US patent agent, I felt compelled to create a “patent” page on freedomdefined.org.  We will see how long it lasts :-) http://freedomdefined.org/Patent

  7. This is a neat looking project, and I backed it. I also mentioned it to the Milwaukee Makerspace guys and Edward (just a bit south of us, in Illinois) mentioned he’d be interested in coming up and giving us a demo. If we get to do that, we’ll share what we think of it…

    1. Send me a video, if you do.