Will A Shapeoko Work For My Use?

Hello All,

I did try asking support first about this but they didn’t give me a definitive answer yes or no. So I’m hoping someone here can provide insight. I think the answer is No shapeoko will not work for me but it is worth an ask here before I have to spend on a larger machine.

First I am new to CNC and have not actually used one yet. Though I have done a fair bit a reading and watching videos. So I apologize if this question is obvious to some.

I am looking to make thermoforming tools out of mdf. The tools consist of pockets that have a max depth of 70mm (~2.8 inches). Is the Shapeoko capable of pocketing to this depth? Assume I am using an endmill that is 3.5" or 4" OAL and I am using just shy of 3" stock.

That would be pretty challenging.

The community has some notes on long endmills at: https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Endmills#Long_endmills

You could try working up a file and testing out cutting and workholding using Grblgru: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4710 and https://www.grblgru.com/

Is it an option to cut material half as thick and then stack?

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Thanks for the tip. It is unfortunately starting to sound like the Shapeoko is not for me and I’ll have to get something with more z-axis movement.

I have some pretty thin walls, 2mm (see picture), so I am not sure glueing will work well but is it something I could try manually first.


Somebody else may chime in but the Shapeoko with the HDZ upgrade provides a stiffer X/Z axis and 151mm (just short of 6in) Z axis travel. This relatively inexpensive update may provide you with a very cost effective solution.

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6 inches is perfect. I assume at that point the only limiting factor is the gantry height? What is the clearance between the bed and the gantry?

Folks get additional clearance on a Shapeoko by flipping the end plates around and bolting them to a torsion box. You can get further clearance by putting riser blocks under the end plates.

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