Is it possible to do this with a Shapeoko Pro?

Hi Kelaa. The idea is to mass produce but not very large quantities. Therefore, you are right that a more powerful machine will help. Of course, I don’t know how successful the product will be, therefore, I don’t want to make too big an investment.

As for the HDM, I have shuffled it yes, but unlike the Shapeoko Pro, they do not send it to Europe :frowning:

Thank you very much for your answer SLCJedi. The idea would be to do it with smaller pieces, 4 ‘’ would be too much. My question about the 4 ‘’ was more for other types of pieces such as wood or HDU for example.

As for the aluminum piece, it seems that they have done it with the Bantam. You can see it in this youtube video: Bantam Tools CNC: Aluminum Glacier National Park Topography Map - YouTube

But it is also true that it is very small, more than I thought. But I also understand that if I double the time, it could make a bigger piece right?

Here are some screenshots of the Bantam:

Doubling the time will let you cut a bigger piece, but only slightly bigger. For example, an 8cm cube is eight times bigger than a 4cm cube, rather than just twice as big.

As an aside, these shapes seem to be perfect candidates for casting in aluminium from a mold you perhaps carve with the CNC.


If you can wait for the HDM, I’d recommend doing so.

The Shapeoko Pro can cut Aluminium for sure, especially if you put a powerful spindle on it, but the HDM is really made for it.

If you’re in Europe, you might also want to consider looking at more local alternatives. It’ll be easier for you to get support and accessories and whatnot from a local seller.

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As an aside, these shapes seem to be perfect candidates for casting in aluminium from a mold you perhaps carve with the CNC.

What you say is a very good idea. But in what material could you make a mold to cast aluminum on a Shapeoko Pro? I remember that the usual thing is to make sand molds … Could you make high-density urethane (HDU) molds for example?

I would like to do it myself as the topography will vary, it will never be the same.

I understand you perfectly Moded1952. But, searching and searching, I am having a hard time finding European alternatives with benefits, price and community (important to me) as great as Shapeoko’s.

I am an industrial design engineer and although I have used CNC machines, I have not followed this industry in a long time. That is why my knowledge of alternatives is limited. Sorry for the audacity to ask in a Carbide community, but do you know European alternatives that fight face to face with a Shapeoko Pro or an HDM?

On the other hand, do you know when HDM will be available for the European market?

Thank you very much everyone for the help.

I am not 100 sure, but if not - you could make the first positive with a readily machined material, and then make the mold from that positive.

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Lost wax casting would be my choice — machine an original, then put it into a green sand mold.

If you’re doing quantities which justify a re-usable mold, graphite is the usual choice — just make sure your dust handling is up to the safety needs of that material.

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If you’re going for casting, I’d skip the Shapeoko for the mold and instead use a 3D printer and do lost-PLA casting. Basically, you print your object in PLA, bury it in sand, put the mold in a furnace to burn out all the PLA, then pour in the metal.

Since you use a 3D printer, you don’t have to do any CAM work at all.

This will leave a bit of a rough surface finish so you might want to use a Shapeoko or something to finish it though. Maybe some kind of chemical treatment or epoxy or something could accomplish it as well.

Some options:

  • Sorotec sells a wide variety of machines. They’re a bit more DIY but fairly solidly built. I think their “Instant Milling” line of machines is probably the closest to a Shapeoko in terms of basic out-of-the-box capability but it looks like it doesn’t have the same options for spindles as a Shapeoko. Might need to look at one of the others for that.
  • Stepcraft is a fairly polished offering but I’m not totally sure how suited they are for Aluminium. Technically it should be doable but I don’t know how rigid their frames are.
  • ISEL makes CNC machines but I’m not sure how much they cost. They’re one of those “contact us” kind of groups, even though they have some entry-level machines.

You’d have to reach out to Carbide 3D sales for any new information.

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Other options:
CNC-Step, a German company, priced more or less in the HDM ballpark: High-Z S400T | Small CNC router with ball screws 400x300x110mm

Onefinity CNC, a Canadian company, but relatively new to the market, as in one year now. I understand there were some teething troubles for the first customers. Priced in the Shapeoko 4 / Pro ballpark.

Thank you all very much for your contributions. As for the aluminum casting, I will analyze the options that you comment. The only concern is the oven, to put the aluminum at + 700Cº, etc. But everything you comment is interesting and logical.

As for the proposals of other CNC machines, I did not know any. I will look at each one in detail in case they can be options to consider.

Finally, as the last question regarding the Shapeoko Pro, I understand leaving aside the aluminum, it will be able to work perfectly with wood or any plastic including high density urethane (up to 100 lb / ft3) right?

Of course. The Shapeoko is a beast for woods and plastics. It’s a CNC router, that’s what they’re for.

I very recently picked up a Isel machine, I thought I’d scrap it for parts, but decided to keep it around to play with. Lighter duty due to its heavy aluminum biased construction, but excellent quality of components and construction.

If I was primarily making little things like the aluminum block pictured, I’d strongly consider a micromill(or a not so micro vertical mill). I haven’t used one personally, but I had occasion to see them in action once. Purchased a large industrial CNC router from an old fella, and in his shop he had a little room with what I think were Taig and Sherline micro mills and lathes. Despite having a full machine shop, he made little things with little machines for fun. His results were beautiful. I’d guess they had z-travel of around 10". I’ve wanted one ever since… don’t know what I’d do with it though.

I think Taig and Sherline have the same problem as Carbide 3D: they’re US brands and their European distribution and support network is pretty limited.

That does remind me, there’s also Proxxon though. They have a small CNC mill.

We’re talking about Carbide 3D class machines here, they need to be lightweight so Aluminium is a good fit.

If you don’t want a lightweight/compact machine, I think your best options are:

  • Convert a manual mill
  • Buy a used VMC
  • Buy a Syil or Tormach
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I completely agree. But being in the States, I don’t have any European examples to offer. Having had occasion to order small components from DamenCNC and the like, shipping expenses are not trivial.

I suppose I should have qualified my statement further. But I agree, aluminum is acceptable and even desirable. I was able to move this machine, removed from its steel base, with 6 adults. This means you could, with minor disassembly, bring this machine through a standard door way. Great for educational facilities, orthotics manufactures ect ect.

I’d guess the Isel machines vintage somewhere around the early-mid 90’s. Originally it interfaced via ISA, and is now updated to full PCI interface running on current windows system. All THK linear bearings and German manufactured screws, ballnuts, and components. Servo Driven, closed loop, seemingly endless I/O. All factory. Though expensive, I have had no trouble sourcing parts and support, to include full software support. Impressive for something approaching 30 years of life.

My other machines are running WinCNC and Proprietary controls. Despite disparity in age, very little difference in capabilities and ease of use when compared to original Isel interface. The modern Isel machines might even utilize/offer WinCNC now, which by my rough comparison, is very similar.

Anyway, I don’t know what they cost new. But based on the capabilities of a 90’s vintage machine, quality of components and software, industry pedigree ect, I’d guess quite expensive; especially when compared to introduction level products like Carbide3D’s. And once you’ve entered that price space, you have a lot of options. At least here in the States, better options.

I would not say Isel is a Carbide3D class machine. Though, 20-30 years ago, it was probably a close analog… and far more expensive. Compared to the Multicam router currently running behind me, the Isel is a light duty education grade machine. Just like my Shapeoko, I still think its neat, and useful.

It depends which machine you get, they have a rather large variety. They have large machines like their IMG series but they go right down to a little Nomad-like mill. For @marapilo, I think the Shapeoko alternative would be this one. It’s more expensive (2550€ not including VAT, a controller or a spindle) but it’s built with linear rails and ballscrews and has a positioning accuracy specification of ±20µm.

Actually, I think that puts it on pretty even ground with the Shapeoko HDM. The HDM is $4900 including spindle and controller. 2550€ is $3010 USD. If you can fit a spindle and controller into $1890 (totally doable), you’ve got a pretty competitive package.

@marapilo if you can’t wait for the HDM, that isel machine actually looks like it could be a really close European substitute.

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Just an aside.

I’ve come across a number of micromills and lathes locally, branded differently. And just now came across a neat little micromill with a complete ATC system. Had to check into it. Denford LTD in the UK. I don’t know if they are original manufacture or importer, but looks like Sherline.

Their micro mills are Sherline in a box. If you zoom in on the product image you can see the Sherline badge on the mill.

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