From Nomad to Shapeoko

I’m a Nomad owner and LOVE everything about it (and Carbide 3D for that matter). Here’s a couple of things I’ve made entirely with the Nomad:

After using the Nomad for almost a year now, I think I’m ready for a larger working size and thinking about going XXL (but totally keeping the Nomad for smaller scale stuff). I just need to find/create some space in my smallish shop for a footprint that large before I can pull the trigger.

My first question is, what do I need to look out for between the two? Other than the lack of tool probe, what are the major operational differences or things I should be thinking about when moving to a Shapeoko?

My second question, would having an XXL on a wheeled platform/enclosure (for storing mostly out of the way when not in use) cause any issues?

Thanks in advance!

You can add a probe to a Shapeoko:

Mostly it’s a matter of scale — fundamentally the machines are the same otherwise, save the probe as noted. There’s also the lack of an enclosure — safety considerations have some added dimensions thereby.

There have been a couple of people who’ve put their machines on mobile platforms of various sorts — the big concern is that it be rigid and not impart any twist to the machine. Example:

I own both, and had Nomad before getting an XXL. I am an inexperienced hobbyist – I own three cnc machines now including my first, an Othermill.

Operationally Nomad and Shapeoko are quite similar, the main differences being no tool probe and manual operation of the router.

However, Shapeoko is very much a kit. It has to be assembled, calibrated, and futzed with to get going at all, and certainly to get good results. Also you have to come up with a workholding strategy, design and make wasteboards, etc. A touch plate can work, but again requires lots of futzing to get it going – including using different (non-C3D) software.

If I were going to do it again I would probably get an XL rather than an XXL, and use tiling to extend the effective Y axis to whatever length the job requires.

As a new owner of an S3 XXL and a Nomad owner, I’m just getting started but mess is a big one to be aware of. I’m still in the mode of putting together a vacuum system and I would say that is a much bigger deal than with the Nomad. When I surface the mdf for the Nomad, it makes a mess in the enclosure which I vacuumed up afterwards. The same task on the S3 XXL makes a huge mess, dust everywhere, bad for the lungs, etc. So, if you can, figure out the dust system before you resurface your spoilboard.

Also, the XXL is pretty big. I made a 4’ x 4’ workbench for it and it fits on but not with a lot of spare room which made assembly difficult. A quick and dirty way to make a workbench is to use this product :

It’s good for people like me who can’t saw straight. You could customize it with some additional block of wood and then add some 4 or 5" locking casters. I did not do this.

Great point: one of the first things I did for the XXL was dust collection. I don’t bother with it for Nomad, but I do use an air quality monitor in the shop where they both live.

I also used that same bench kit from Amazon.

1 Like

@Jotham I’d agree about the table size. I made mine for my XXL 4’x4’ too, I’d probably go at least 4x5 and make the extra room in front.

1 Like

Thanks everyone for the helpful hints and insights (and any additional ones that are still to come)!

I own both the Nomad and the SO3XXL. I built an enclosure and posted information about it on this forum. With the enclosure and dust collection I use the SO3 95% of the time because its 10x faster than the Nomad. The only time I use the nomad is if I’m doing a small job that needs tolerances tighter than +/-0.010" or so. The SO3 is around 1 hp. The Nomad is 0.07hp. The Nomad spindle motor is really a “toy” and you can’t do anything fast with it unless its with a very soft material.

With that said, the Nomad is a lot stiffer and more precise so I can see it being a better machine for some people. I like them both and don’t regret buying either one. I’ll eventually move on to a much stiffer CNC router. The SO3 is okay but the z axis assembly has a LOT of play and the XXL base isn’t designed quite right because it doesn’t include supports to keep it from flexing. Just pushing on the middle of the waste board with your finger can move it 0.050" or more quite easily. Its simple to fix with a shim in the middle but if you want better than +/-0.010" tolerances then you would really have to spend a lot of time tweaking the machine and run it very slow on the final pass. Its doable though if you are willing to spend a lot of time tinkering. Without tinkering you can get really good cuts that are in the 0.010" tolerance range most of the time. I would guess that the Nomad will produce +/-0.003 tolerances pretty consistently.

For the prices C3D charges, these machines are both good buys if you are using them at a hobby or prosumer level.

1 Like