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Thread: Anyone have a Shaper Origin?

  1. #1
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    Anyone have a Shaper Origin?

    Wondering if anyone bought a Shaper Origin yet and what they like/dislike about it, how they use it, pretty much any info.

    John

  2. #2
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    Hi John,
    I had never heard of the Shaper Origin. Had to look it up. It looks like a fancy router with some sort of cnc capability.
    Perhaps some of the other forum members can provide some user feedback.
    David

    shaper origin.jpg

  3. #3

  4. #4
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    One comment I saw recently in a different forum was that an owner really liked it for making templates, but wasn't satisfied with it for "precise" repeatable components directly due to its nature and dependency on human placement on the material, etc. I can certainly see applications for it, but I'd not give up my "more traditional" CNC setup for one, personally.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
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    Thanks for that link, Kevin.

    The videos I've watched show it's pretty capable considering the size of the router. Clearly it's no substitute for a gantry CNC machine, but for one off work of nearly any size, as well as the portability and zero footprint it's an interesting alternative.

    John

  6. #6
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    That's true, John. In its wheelhouse, it's a pretty darn capable tool.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    I think it would be good to have along with a regular cnc so you have a tool to carry to a jobsite in case you needed to do a small job and time was an issue. For the price, I definitely wouldn't consider it over a gantry style cnc if I had to choose one or the other.

  8. #8
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    I glanced thru several of the videos, and I'm still not really sure how it works. It looks like you need to put down some special tape with "domino" style targets. Presumably this helps with the "tracking", but it was not clear to me if the installed router is moving around inside the plastic mount, or what? Has someone seen a simple explanation of how it works?
    David

  9. #9
    Apparently, you have to lay down the tape so that the camera can see enough of it while cutting. Then you have to scan the taped area so it can map the area. Then when you are going to cut, it lowers the bit and you follow lines on the screen. You don't have to be that accurate and the router moves and the software keeps it on the vector. If you get too far off then the bit will raise off the workpiece. As far as feed rate you have to feel for it whether you need to go faster or slower and if it starts to bog it will lift the bit out of material.

    I guess it would depend on what you are trying to do with it as to whether it would be practical on a jobsite because you will need a computer to generate the toolpath. If it were something simple then you could knock it out quickly with a laptop. If it were more complicated I don't know how practical it would be to be at a jobsite drawing it out. At the very least it looks like a cool tool to play with but the price would keep me from it since I don't have a "need" for a jobsite tool.

    Amazing the direction cnc's are going with new technology.

  10. #10
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    If it sold for under 1K, I would probably buy one just to check it out. But not at $2500.
    Plus I don't go to "job sites", and I already have 3 cnc gantry style routers. So it would just be a new toy to play with. And it looks expensive to fix if something goes wrong.
    David

  11. #11
    One piece I saw this excel at was inlaid work on existing flooring. The guy cut artistic sheet music and musical notes along a path through a music room (or similar). The end result looked great-- and a 13' x 13' floor is a bit larger than my current gantry machine supports
    Licensed Professional Engineer,
    Unlicensed Semi Professional Tinkerer

  12. #12
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    That's a really good example of where a tool like this can shine, Matt!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    John -

    I recently got a Shaper Origin and I can tell you it is really, really good at most things a CNC gantry style can do EXCEPT for operations that require changing Z-depth on a path. So for example, carving is out.

    But it excels at 2d joinery type operations and especially making jig and fixture parts as well as patterns. I do have access to a nice Legacy CNC through the Kansas City Woodworkers' Guild. And while they don't let me use them, the Physics Machine Shop here at KU has some pretty snazzy HAAS equipment. So I'm comparing in general terms to what I've done or had done elsewhere.

    Input to the device is an SVG file. Quick and simple to make with tools like Fusion 360 or you can use Inkscape, Affinity Designer or Adobe Illustrator. Or you can use some basic on-tool design such as circles/ovals, rectangles, lines, simple curves and basic text. The lack of external g-code is both bad and good. For the average user, they won't care that the g-code step isn't there for them to fuss over. For a power-user, maybe they would rather have that. So far, I've been quite happy to NOT have to deal with g-code. I get enough of that at work. The use of SVG files takes a little getting used to but so far it has been fine. However I've not created anything so complicated it couldn't be handled by the SO.

    As to accuracy and repeat-ability, my crude testing has it easily coming back to within 0.002" or about 0.05mm. I can't really say if it is any better than that because I'm not sure if I'm measuring spring-back in the material (MDF or MDO for these tests), runout in the router or deflection of the bit or the vision system. Probably a bit of everything. It is possible to work other materials such as aluminum, brass, copper, plexi-whatevers. But I have not tested that. I don't have the spec for the high and low spindle speed range at hand.

    Just mucking about in MDF to make pockets and inlay something into those pockets, marching up on the fit in increments of 0.001" while a bit on the silly side, I could tell it was getting closer to fitting then made a fit which pushed out air and popped when pulled free. So take another few thou off for glue and it would be perfect.

    The fudicial tape is a bit annoying sometimes and people are complaining of the cost ($18 for 150') but really, it isn't so bad. And at least one or two people have cracked the code and created on-line pattern printers so you can print the stuff after calibrating your printer. I tried a few self-printed sheets and they seem to work just fine.

    For making repeated cuts it can be used to probe a workpiece placed into the work area, then drop a grid aligned with what would be the lower left corner of the workpiece (it assumes rectangular stock -- that is a shortcoming). Patterns can then be snapped to that grid. Or you can work without the grid and align by eye. And since workspaces with their tape are remembered, one can set up alignment points in the workspace to speed up doing multiples.

    What you see in the screen isn't the workpiece but a previous scan of the piece since the camera is looking out ahead of the SO at the tape. This can be a bit confusing at first.

    So long as you are patient and understand that the Z can only retract so fast, it is pretty easy to keep things in the about 1" circle of movement the router can manage. Using one or more clean-up passes makes a big difference in the cut quality. It has a mode where you can tell the SO to follow the cut within the 1" circle. This is good for moving around corners or engraving operations as the SO can be fed feeds and speeds.

    I'm still learning. Mostly about software like Affinity Designer. I use Fusion 360 at work but it has limitations if you want more "artistic" things like text to follow a path. I'd say that 90% of what I plan to use the machine for is jig making and patterns to speed up other projects or make duplicates. However so far for work I've made a few bases for mounting test fixtures and a couple of miniature alignment squares (they look like little baby welding squares) and its worked a treat!

    Last night started fooling around with some of the joinery the SO can do. It has built-in software for box joints and will do the calculation for equal spacing for you. Other than picking a splintery wood to test with (all I had that was already of about the right size, meh) it did great. The joint came together just fine first time. It could benefit from scribing baselines as the SO will not allow you to back-route the way you might on a dovetail jig to get a clean baseline. Also experimented with making mortise and tenon joints and ended up with a suction cup fit. Again, remove another 0.002" to make room for the glue swell and it would be perfect.

    The cost isn't much different than a medium sized gantry style CNC. And it is possible to finance the machine using something like PayPal Credit if you purchase through Rockler. So then you get 6mo (might be 9mo) same as cash. Set up recurring payments in your on-line banking and done.

    Here's the little assembly squares next to the Vivaldi style antenna I assembled with their help. In the background you can see the prototype a grad student hacked on. Really, really gotta teach them how to do neat work...

    sm20200203_095702.jpg
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Young View Post
    I recently got a Shaper Origin... sm20200203_095702.jpg
    Rob,
    I appreciate all of the information-- that's one of the more informative posts I've seen for these unique machines.
    Licensed Professional Engineer,
    Unlicensed Semi Professional Tinkerer

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Lawrence, KS
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    Continuing to "play" (i.e. experiment) with the Shaper Origin handheld CNC...

    To make things easier on me, I picked up some pre-dimensioned poplar from the Home Despot. Then fed said dimensions into the on-board box joint widget on the Shaper Origin. And out came a tool path for making a quick and dirty box. And dang if it didn't press-fit together! One of the parameters in the widget is "glue gap". The default is 0.005". I pushed it out to 0.006" after a quick test. Probably could be 0.007" or 0.008" after a test fit of all four sides. Really, it seems to be a function of runout, actual bit size and material. But this will glue up just fine. Switching to liquid hide-glue will make it slip together just fine.

    Pretty darn amazing right off the tool. The material I tested with tonight measured just smack on at 0.5" so I told the Shaper to make the final pass at 0.51" depth. That should amount to 0.01" of protrusion. Test fit shows it to be just proud. Too lazy to go find feeler gauge, but certainly withing sanding range.

    Clever little gadget to be sure. One of the coolest features I've found so far is how you can enter dimensions. In this case, 1/32" shy of 5-1/2" so I entered the width as 5.5-1/32 it it handled the computation of equal fingers just fine. Very natural.

    As with most "hand tool" vs. "machine" comparisons, if one had a full blown gantry style CNC with the necessary alterations to allow this sort of machining, the automatic CNC would win in the end. It takes time to set up and run the 4 passes manually for each joint edge. But for one-off type projects I feel this technology has an edge. No g-code to fuss with. No programming or calculating. Everything is done in-machine. Really very clever and long-term I can see the developers modifying this for dovetail type joints.

    sm20200211_234205.jpgsm20200211_234254.jpg
    Last edited by Rob Young; 02-12-2020 at 9:50 AM. Reason: typos
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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