EShapeoko FAQ

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Warning: This article predates the X-Carve and Shapeoko 3, so they are not included in the discussion.

What's with Shapeoko, eShapeoko and Shapeoko 2? Which is which?

Shapeoko is Edward Ford's original design. It was available in a single configuration. It was 375 mm by 375 mm, and came with pulleys, coupler and hardware for NEMA17 motors. It had a single X rail, two solid end plates, and a single Y motor.

The MXL belt was teeth-up, about 38 mm above the rails, using mending plates and zip ties as belt anchors, with no mechanism for tensioning the belt.

The first machines had painted mild steel plates, then changed to stainless steel, then to galvanized mild steel. The motor plates were 14 gauge (1.90–1.99 mm). All screws were hex socket cap screws in blackened steel.

The Z motor plate was machined HDPE with a pressure-fit bearing, later changed to acetal (Delrin). The Z axis used zinc-plated M8 threaded rod as a leadscrew, with an acetal (Delrin) lead nut.

eShapeoko is Catalin Voinescu's clone of the Shapeoko. It was initially available in a single size, 375 mm by 495 mm with NEMA17 motors, a single X rail and the standard solid end plates. Dual Y drive (with two motors) has been a recommended option from the beginning. Later, it gained options for dual X rail, NEMA23 motors on all axes (a choice of X only, X and Y, or all three), aluminium spacers for the X carriage, open end plates, and an array of sizes: 375 mm, 495/500 mm, 750 mm, 1000 mm and 1250/1400/1500 mm (Y axis only). The larger sizes are supplied with mid-span supports for the Y axis and hardware to bolt the X rails together for additional strength.

The eShapeoko uses GT2 belt, which is designed for better power transfer and less backlash compared to MXL. It gives a choice of three belt configurations, all of them teeth down: belts-on-top (the default on the X axis with a NEMA17 motor), and two belts-on-the-outside configurations (the default on the Y axis, and an assembly choice for the X axis with a NEMA23 motor). The belts are mounted through slots and secured with metal clamps, and tensioned with a simple, strong mechanism.

The eShapeoko has stainless steel plates (2 mm thick for the motor plates). All screws are hex socket cap screws in stainless steel.

The Z axis uses a flanged bearing secured between two stainless steel plates, and a stainless steel M8 threaded rod as leadscrew, with the same type of acetal (Delrin) lead nut as the Shapeoko. Each nut is tested to run smoothly on the screw before being packed with the kit.

Other differences include the more swept back gantry, which increases working area; the longer wheel base on the Z axis; and the different construction of the X carriage, with the bolts carrying the Z wheels going through both X plates, for added rigidity. As a consequence, the eShapeoko motor plates have a distinctive shape, with only one corner cut off.

Shapeoko 2 is Edward Ford's second iteration. It is available in a single size, 500 mm by 500 mm, dual X rail, and open end plates. The mechanical kit no longer includes belts, pulleys and motor fasteners; they are available to buy separately, or as part of the complete kit. NEMA23 motors are an option on X and Y. Aluminium spacers are standard.

The belts supplied with the complete kit are GT2, and they are routed teeth down on top of the rails. The buckle-type belt anchors reduce travel somewhat, but are easier to use and stronger than the original Shapeoko anchors.

The Shapeoko 2 has black powder-coated mild steel plates of impressive thickness (and weight). The screws are hex socket button screws in stainless steel.

The Z axis uses the same flanged bearing design as the eShapeoko, and a stainless steel M8 threaded rod as leadscrew, with the same acetal (Delrin) lead nut. Instead of screws with spacers, the motor is held by threaded hex brass spacers.

The most notable difference between the Shapeoko 2 and the eShapeoko is the inverted Z axis. Instead of the Z rail moving up and down on V-wheels fixed to the X carriage, the rail is now fixed, and a newly added Z carriage runs up and down on the Z rail. This has advantages (especially over the Shapeoko configuration) as well as disadvantages.

Which is better, the eShapeoko or the Shapeoko 2?

They're about evenly matched. Each has some advantages over the other, and they both include several important improvements over the original Shapeoko.

What are the differences between the eShapeoko and the Shapeoko 2?

There are two main differences.

The motor plates

The Shapeoko 2 motor plates are much thicker. This makes them more rigid, but also significantly heavier.

The inverted Z axis arrangement

This greatly improves the rigidity of the Shapeoko 2 compared to the original Shapeoko. Its advantages include:

  • the Z leadscrew does not need to lift the Z motor;
  • the inertia of the Z motor does not add to the load on the Z V-wheels;
  • the Z rail never descends below the bottom of the X carriage.

The eShapeoko already has a much improved Z axis compared to the original Shapeoko, so it would benefit less from this change. The inverted arrangement is not without disadvantages: it can have clearance issues, and it has less favourable leverage, especially when the tool is up.

Will the eShapeoko adopt the Shapeoko 2 changes?

The eShapeoko already includes many of the Shapeoko 2 improvements over the original, or different design changes that address the same issues. See also the previous question.

We will not adopt the heavier motor plates as standard, nor the inverted Z axis arrangement.

What does eShapeoko do better than Shapeoko 2?

  • Belt tensioning. Both are a major improvement over the original; however, the eShapeoko system easier to use and to adjust.
  • Belt configuration. The eShapeoko has several choices of belt configuration for both NEMA17 and NEMA23 motors, including one with the belt doing a full 180 degree turn around the toothed pulley, for optimal contact. Both belts-on-the-outside and belts-on-top configurations are supported, including the Shapeoko 2 configuration.
  • Z axis spindle clearance. The inverted Z axis of the Shapeoko 2 can cause the motor to interfere with the top of the spindle, unless it's mounted further away from the Z carriage. This is undesirable, as it increases the leverage of the spindle weight and cutting forces over the weakest point of the machine, the X axis V-wheels.
  • TBD

What does Shapeoko 2 do better than eShapeoko?


Is it eShapeoko, or eShapeOko? Or maybe EShapeoko?

It's eShapeoko. MediaWiki forces article titles to start with a capital letter, which is why you'll see EShapeoko in titles and links. I used to prefer eShapeOko, but I changed my mind. (Before you ask, Edward prefers Shapeoko, and Bart named his linear motion system MakerSlide, so that's how I write them too.)