Why We Build Our Tools Ourselves

You may know that ShopBot Tools sells CNC tools, serving small-to-medium sized manufacturing companies. What you may not know is that we build our digital fabrication tools ourselves – using digital fabrication. We design and build our own tools, the electronic controls for the tools, as well as the software that runs the tools, which differentiates ShopBot from most other companies selling affordable CNC equipment.

As a potential CNC owner, the fact that we design and build our own tools makes a meaningful difference to you. With a ShopBot, you get a tool from the people who designed and manufactured the tools and the software that runs it. You get your help and support from the people who know and understand the equipment and its control. The equipment, the design, the wide range of training and support resources that we make available to you – all are based on our own continual involvement in small manufacturing using the digital technologies of the equipment itself.

We use the tools ourselves all day, every day. That’s why we understand how CNC, digital fabrication, and robotics are used in production. We make use of that knowledge in the development of our products and in the technical support we provide to you for your production success.

Our involvement in design and manufacture, combined with our full engagement in customer support, creates a cycle of product enhancement that we think of as our “Turbine of Innovation.” Here’s how it works:

There is a continuous loop of integrated feedback between our manufacturing and our customers’ manufacturing. We learn from our production. We learn from your production, and we learn from you. We integrate this learning and discovery into our design, development, and improvement process. This process efficiently drives the innovation that provides you with greater productivity, product reliability, and ease of use.

An advantage of building our own tools rather than importing and reselling others’ equipment is that we’re able to rapidly make iterative improvements and enhancements to tools and software. We continuously integrate these improvements into our products and keep ShopBot owners in an upgrade loop. When we develop something new, it does not obsolete your previous investment; instead we focus on upgrade paths to keep your tool in that Turbine of Innovation loop. Even 18-year-old ShopBots have been updated to have many of the capabilities of new tools – they keep working year-after-year. Because of this longevity, ShopBots keep their value and usefulness rather than becoming a financial and logistical burden to your shop.

We are currently in the process of rolling out our next generation controller for digital tools and equipment. Representing several years work, it’s both hardware and software that improves motion, making fabrication faster, smoother, and easier. It allows monitoring and tuning of tool performance and tracking usage and job flow. We call it FabMo (digital Fabrication and Motion platform). FabMo will first be available on our small tools this summer, then we will begin shipping on full size tools, and, shortly after, will be available as an enhanced, drop-in-controller for older ShopBots – giving them new features and capabilities.

And yes, we get a kick out of developing and building the tools ourselves. We like hands-on. We like production. We enjoy using technology to stay competitive – and we enjoy producing the kind of product that will empower your competitiveness and appreciate the opportunity to help you succeed.


Digital fabrication technology is the key to making small manufacturing competitive again

Over 20 years ago, we had an idea to bring digital control to production tools, but at a human scale —digital fab technology at the time was only available for large industrial applications. We wanted to make the technology accessible to entrepreneurial individuals, small shops, and small-run manufacturing. 

History shows that our idea caught on. The press now calls this concept of digital technology being used competitively by small manufacturing: “The next industrial revolution.” Checkout how digital fab works for our own manufacturing:  “Eating Our Own Dogfood … ”.

Returning small manufacturing to our communities can restore their vitality. Manufacturing is the single most effective economic activity for producing value. It preserves our quality of life; it keeps us creative; and it keeps us competitive. Small manufacturing is especially effective because of its close relationship to the local economy, its proven role in education and workforce training, and its integration within a community.


We believe in small manufacturing and we practice it.

We use digitally controlled equipment (often our own ShopBots) to produce ShopBot tools. We utilize the continuum of digital fabrication technologies – from the digital model of our tools, to digital prototyping, to full CNC production of almost everything we make. As well, we use digital technologies in our marketing, logistics, and other business activities. We believe that it is these technologies that will make small manufacturing realistically competitive again, right here in the US.

In short, we are small manufacturers of digital fabrication equipment and we use digital fabrication to produce that equipment. We live the idea. We help it work for you!
See Ted Hall’s full series of essays on using Digital Fabrication in Small Manufacturing: https://medium.com/@tedhall.shopbot

To learn more about ShopBot Tools, visit: www.shopbottools.com

Explore our community of digital fabrication manufacturers at: www.100kGarages.com

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