What changes will I see moving from a 3XXL to a Pro? I bought my 3XXL 2 years ago and I’m considering an upgrade. Besides the obvious specs seen on the website, what changes will I experience? What have other previous owners of the 3XXL noticed with an upgrade?
Welcome to the community. You can shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to have their position on the matter, but in the meantime, a few highlights from my (biased) point of view, from my own experience of first using a regular Shapeoko (3) during a few years, and upgrading to a XXL Pro a few months ago:
- coming from a 3XXL, the most significant change you would experience I think is the hybrid bed. It’s night and day in terms of rigidity and convenience, compared to the MDF bed on earlier models. I had replaced my MDF bed with an aluminium one on my SO3, but now that I have seen/touched/used the hybrid bed, I’m not even considering doing that again on my Pro. I regularly literally hop on top of the bed when attaching a large piece of stock onto the bed, and it does not bend/move at all.
- the rails are the second most obvious difference, they do help increase the rigidity of the X/Y carriage and allow larger depth per pass, but I have not done extensive tests to characterize by how much compared to the original Shapeoko. If I remember correctly there is a video out there where Winston covers this. My gut feeling is it’s at least x2.
- I remember spending quite some time getting my SO3 perfectly square, shimming here and there, while my Pro was dead square out of the box (following the squaring instructions religiously, that is)
- larger belts help minimize belt stretch and therefore bring peace of mind. Truth be told belts were never a big concern on my SO3 anyway, and I pulled off some fairly detailed carves with those narrower belts, but the larger ones do feel better and I assume they will last longer.
- I was never concerned with v-wheels on the SO3 either, and moving to the pro you just swap the hassle of checking v-wheel tension from time to time, to that of cleaning/oiling the rails from time to time. Similar effort. Obviously the v-wheels provide less rigidity, but whether it will actually show in your cuts really depends on what you are cutting, and how aggressive your feeds and speeds are.
An over-simplified way to put it could be, if you are cutting metals you should see a better finish quality due to the increase in rigidity, and be able to get a higher material removal rate. And if you are mostly cutting wood you should be able to cut faster/deeper. It’s mostly a productivity upgrade (and quality of life improvement with that sweet hybrid bed)
Thank you for taking the time with this response- very helpful!
I’ve gone from a SO3 XXL with a Misumi extrusion bed to a SOPro and SO4. @Julien sums it up perfect. I Think the hybrid bed is night and day. Both in rigidity and a lot of workholding options. Workholding is VERY under-rated in my opinion. I like the hybrid bed way better than even the extrusion bed I had on my SO3.
I also never had much issue with the SO3 belts, but the wider SOPro/SO4 belts make it easier to get the right tension and keep it. The difference between the SO4 and SOPro is pretty small with the router being the equalizing factor. Both machines have more capability in the movement system than the router can power thru. The SOPro I can push slightly harder than the SO4 and with slightly better finish, less chatter.
The SO3 is a great machine, but the SOPro/SO4 are worth the upgrade from my experience. Cutting plastics like HDPE at 400 IPM with chips flying is awesome.
I’m curious, are there any major differences between the SO3 and SO4/PRO control boards? It’s gone from 2.4e to 3.0 versions, is that correct?
The connectors are different (changed from Molex KK to Micro-Fit) and the board is physically larger, and no need for an expansion adapter/PCB Riser Board, everything just plugs in directly.
Thanks for the information, Will. So someone wouldn’t (or couldn’t without modification) purchase a 3.0 board to use with their SO3 set up; and not that anyone would do it, but vice versa - use a 2.4e board to replace a damaged 3.0 board…?
The boards should be compatible (motors/switches are the same) — except for the matter of the connectors.
Understood. Thanks, again.
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