The Components

The heads are attached to the base unit using quick connects and a single snap fit electrical connector for easy attachment and removal.

One head has a high speed motor turning a collet that can hold a router bit, drill bit, cutting bit and many others. The X and Y axis moves the head assembly and a Z axis lowers the head into the work piece. It can be used as an engraver to carve letters into wood or engrave circuits into copper clad panels to make PCBs, or as a cutter to cut Lexan or plywood and many other uses.


The CNC Router/Engraver Head


The other initial head is an FDM 3D Printer with a plastic filament feed motor and a heater to melt the plastic. The temperature is held constant by the on board electronics and software for perfect 3D printing. Have a look atThingiverse.comto get an idea of the things that can be made.


The 3D Printer Head


There is also a laser cutter. This head is a high power laser that can be used to cut vinyl, plastic, thin metal and wood. It can also be used as an etcher and engraver.


The laser head.


The Electronics

The electronics consist of a single board with a microcomputer and 3 axis motor drive circuits. Limit switches tell the electronics when the end of travel is reached. Solid state switches turn power on and off to various devices.


The motor and temperature control electronics.


The entire system is powered from a single high capacity power supply that supplies 24vdc at 15 amps. The power supply is switched and fused for safety and has an Emergency Stop button to kill power.


The power supply unit.


The Software

The software is written specifically to control the heads on this machine. The software detects the type of head plugged in and handles the functionality for that head. The CNC functions include the ability to turn tools on and off and to control the position of the head in 3D space.


The Mechanics

The Machine consists of a sturdy metal frame and high power stepper motors to drive the X, Y and Z axis.

The work area is roughly 12x12 inches or 300x300 mm in X and Y for the Shapeoko 2.

There is 6 inches or 150 mm of Z axis movement. But taller objects can be created because of the open bottom design.The motions of X and Y axis are belt driven for fast, precise operation. The vertical axis is driven by a lead screw for high precision.


Future Options

A future option will allow you to place a CNC controlled scissors jack below the work space which works in conjunction with the Z axis to control the height of the work piece.


Scissors jack option.


The open bottom design will also allow a stepper controlled lathe to be placed below the work area. This will add a rotary axis for even more flexibility in making things.


Lathe option.



Michael Fowler 2016