Automatic Tool Changer (ATC) on Shapeoko HDM

Placeholder for existing topic.

I’ve ordered an HDM but now I’m wondering if I’m making a mistake. I really want an ATC, but it seems like most of the ATC solutions require an ATC spindle, and retrofitting is not that simple. I would prefer an ISO solution rather than a home-grown solution using the current collets (cool as those are).

This post:

…is essentially what I’d like to do, but I don’t really want to have to throw out the HDM spindle to get there. I did find one company that makes an adapter:

…but it looks like they don’t have an ER20 product, and it may not fit any old spindle anyways.

So I’m wondering if I’m just fighting an uphill battle here and should be looking at a different machine instead.

Anyone have any words of wisdom on this?

ATC’s are really cool but you will not be able to retrofit one onto the HDM without significant effort. First you need to source either an ATC spindle or ATC adapter. You could still use the existing VFD on a new spindle if you make sure to get the right one. Then you would need to replace the controller with something that will allow an ATC. The build of GRBL on the Carbide 3D controller will not work. There is a significant amount of work in setting up a new controller and again with setting up ATC from scratch. There is a reason that machines that come with an ATC are in a very different price class than anything Carbide 3D sells. Having built one on another machine myself, I can say that I don’t think you can retrofit a well performing and reliable ATC for anything less than about $5k.

EDIT: Welcome to the community by the way! What are you trying to use the HDM for? That info would let everyone help you determine if it is the right choice.


Different machine. The effort to put this in place would be significant, and you have a machine designed without one in mind, so you will also lose some space on the HDM where your tools sit.

Stepcraft M or Q series with ATC options come to mind. Some pretty serious money. I don’t think Axiom has any ATC options and their controller is a dinosaur last I checked. Avid has an ATC option, also a lot of money.

You say you really “want” an ATC. I think you need to quantify those needs and have them change to “I must have an ATC”. We all want one :slight_smile: but the price, complication or payoffs aren’t always acceptable.


Thanks for the quick responses. You’ve pretty much confirmed what I was afraid of. I was hoping there was some middle ground here where I could build on the HDM’s solid foundation and take it a little further, but alas, seems like no.

And yeah, I want an ATC because tool changes are tedious. I am, for the moment, just a hobbyist, so I can’t argue that I have a need.

Maybe part of my problem is what I’ve been working on to date - I have a Nomad 883, and have been doing PCB milling, which seems to use all the tools and drills I own with a tool change for each one. When I start working on larger projects, maybe I can get that down to just a couple per job.

Anyways, thanks for the info!

Honestly, unless you are in a production environment, ATC’s are a luxury. A tool change and zero shouldn’t take more than a minute if you are taking your time.

As for the HDM, I have previously owned an AVID Pro 9648 and a SO3 XXL and now am waiting on my HDM. I specced out the AVID Benchtop Pro with NEMA 23 electronics, a s30c ATC spindle, and supporting hardware and it was over $10,000. Personally, I feel the HDM is going to be in the same category as the benctop pro for half the price.

Check out breaking taps on YouTube for a similar setup. The stepcraft is really your only other complete package.


The machine I built for my business is an AVID Pro 60120 with an S30 ATC spindle. Even with the “plug and play” kit from CNC Depot, it was most definitely not plug and play. I have put somewhere between 30 and 40 hours into just creating, setting up and testing hardware and software related to getting ATC to work reliably in a carpentry environment. It was fun, I learned a lot and it cost a bunch. Since that machine is about making money and has since paid for itself, it is easy to justify the investment.

Like @DiscoJon says, I don’t think you will find any machine out there that matches the HDM in the same price class.

Stepcraft has an ATC machine for $5,800.00 but I see a couple key differences. First, it has a 1kw air cooled spindle rather than a 1.5kw or 2.2kw water cooled. You are limited to ER-11 which means 1/4" or 7mm (technically you can do 8mm but the collet is pretty thin and you have to be careful not to put the tool to far into the holder). It will also be much louder which may or may not matter to you. Second, and the biggest difference in my mind, I can tell just from pictures that it will not be nearly as rigid. The Y axis uprights, X axis and Z axis look weak when compared to the HDM.

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@nsb I believe @Luke was considering a home grown ATC solution for his HDZ. You might want to PM Luke to see if there is a better alternative. In the meantime, you might want to checkout ATC retro fit projects by @tchad, JenkinsCNC, @diegocolonnello linked below.





Welp, you’ve all thoroughly crushed my dreams of kicking back with a beer while my HDM does all the work. It seems I’m going to have to just suck it up and change tools by hand like some sort of peasant. :wink:

Joking aside, I don’t think I’d want to give up the nice spindle on the HDM like most of the above videos require, so this feels like a dead end. Oh well. For right now, I think the HDM is still going to be the best mix of precision, versatility, and footprint for me.

Thanks everyone.

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It’s only money, If you want an ATC, make it happen. I’m sure we all will watch with baited breath

I might regret saying this. There is a HDM with an ATC on it - I built it as a proof of concept to see what the future might look like. It’s very cool - it’s also really expensive - best guess is it’s a 5k option when you consider spindle, air, tooling, controller, relays, solenoids etc. I’m not saying it can’t be done for less but warranty on spindles is a really interesting thing. Usually it’s around 1000 hours on a ATC unit. That poses a interesting support consideration for us.

There is also regulation that relates to RPM, HP and having a ATC machine without an enclosure. I’m not really sure how Stepcraft get by this - this regulation is really important - if you have ever see a tool holder be spun out and thrown you will know why it exists. I certainly would not operate any CNC with a ATC without an enclosure.


I had one drop while going 18,000 RPM and it was quite the event. I was testing a revision of the script in Mach4 that controls our ATC and made a mistake. ISO30 ER32 tool holder with a 3 flute 1/2" diameter 3" stickout endmill doing a dance on the table top inside the dust shoe. Luckily the dust shoe kept it there as it was designed to but it was still quite scary.


Is that an ANSI reg? Care to share?

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If it’s an ISO reg. I believe it would be somewhere under:

Of course you can have ATC!!!

how many mm is the spindle diameter? the Mechatron works really well, and is simple to operate with only one solenoid needed, you only need to remember to use light cuts when machining aluminium…
this was not too bad:

only limitation is the carbide software performing the tool changes and defining the tool coordinates and offsets, this is the reason i changed to MASSO.

Go ahead, make your dreams come true and modify your machine however you see fit.


Interesting - I hadn’t really been thinking about that sort of safety, but that makes a lot of sense. More mass spinning with an automated release mechanism is cause for concern to be sure.

I’m guessing the standard in question was ANSI b11.8. I don’t have the spec, but other mill manuals reference it.

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I’m really liking the masso touch controller. That may be an upgrade for my HDM soon. I want to integrate a 3D touch probe but don’t see how I can with the grbl board.

Check this out


That’s basically what I want to do. I had a similar setup on my AVID machine using mach 3 and the probe-it plugin. I would generate a point map, then use gcode ripper to “wrap” the 2.5d gcode around the probed surface.

G-Code Ripper.

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