shaper_cnc

The computer-assisted handheld router makers formerly known as Taktia revealed a smart new design and name to match: Shaper. Their digitally augmented power tools were a sensation at Maker Faire Bay Area last year, and this year’s router is even more impressive, with a clean, integrated design, new touchscreen user interface, and new Z-axis control that’s pretty mindblowing.

Grab the Shaper router and start carving — it’s impossible not to feel you’re using the power tools of the future. How does it work? You load vector files into the tool so it knows precisely what shape you want to cut. You start cutting the shape, following the contours shown on the screen, and if you wander off course, the tool automatically makes micro adjustments to gently steer you back to your line. And with the new Z-axis support if you suddenly slip or overshoot your line, the router instantly retracts the cutting head. You literally can’t cut the workpiece anywhere but the right places. Four-year-old kids were successfully routing letter shapes in plywood this weekend.

Unlike a traditional CNC bed router, the Shaper router can be used anywhere, and in any position, even upside down. (And the new Z-axis control even opens up the possibility of variable-depth cutting if you flip the router upside down in a router table, though that’s not currently supported.)

I talked to co-founder Alec Rivers, who showed off the brand new beta version. He says they’re 6 months from production. Now Shaper is looking for great makers to show what this tool can do. Interested in the beta? Sign up at the Shaper booth today at Maker Faire Bay Area for a chance to give it a test drive, or get on their mailing list online at shapertools.com.