Bringing a “legacy” ShopBot up-to-speed: Sea Reach, Ltd.

Sea Reach Ltd. in Sheridan, OR, is a design company that also makes signs. Their strong commitment to the environment and education, both nationally and internationally, is something that is very apparent by the content they post to their blog. In addition to working on private projects, Sea Reach’s clients include the U.S. Forest Service and other government agencies, as well as educational institutions. 

Sea Reach designs and prints graphics on-site, and has a production facility for manufacturing a wide variety of things—from the posts signage hangs on, to outfitting a van that will be a mobile visitor’s center for Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Where appropriate, they used to outsource some aspects of a project, like v-carving a sign, or cutting out graphics printed on high pressure laminate. In order to bring some of that back in-house, they purchased a pre-owned ShopBot from a company in Portland. The ShopBot came with an operator who had used the machine for working with wood, but the operator had moved on.

Recently, Sea Reach received a grant related to Workforce Development in Oregon. The grant provided the opportunity to hire someone from ShopBot to travel to Oregon to tune-up and upgrade their ShopBot, as well as give 5 days of training and support to teach a number of their employees the true capabilities of the machine.

Before going out to their facility, I consulted with Kelly Crees, Operations Manager of Sea Reach, via email and phone calls to determine what they wanted to do with their ShopBot and what supplies they might need. Kelly sent photos of the ShopBot to help identify the components of the tool, including the control box and card, motors, pinion gears, Z-axis, and spindle. The tool was a PRTalpha with a Colombo spindle, circa 2004. A new computer for design work, new Aspire CAD/CAM software, and consumables such as pinion gears, bits, and collets also became part of the package.

The initial visit indicated that the ShopBot had been well-maintained by the previous operator, and a creative vacuum hold down system had been put in place. The charred state of the bits and collets used for cutting out the high-pressure laminate (a paper infused with plastic) told me that the company could use some help with feeds and speeds for cutting different materials. Since the tool was useable as it was, we jumped into training Melissa (graphic design), Chris (woodworking) and Danny (summer assistant) on how to set up the ShopBot and use Aspire to create files. ShopBot founder Ted Hall was on vacation in Portland on the third day and was recruited to help with changing out pinion gears, reprogramming drivers, and tweaking settings to make the tool hum as it did its work. Should they choose to put the tool into full-time production in the future, there are a few upgrades Sea Reach can make, such as replacing the 14- year-old spindle and upgrading the control card to bring the control box up to the current ShopBot tool standards.

The grant also includes more time for consulting on specific projects, such as v-carving and using Aspire to create 3D models for casting bronze. Sea Reach’s use of their ShopBot for new and exciting projects is just beginning.

Ted Hall was recruited into tweaking one of the first PRTalpha tools to enhance its performance.



ShopBot is pleased to offer (for a fee) help with upgrading an older ShopBot and training new operators on how to use it effectively and efficiently. A document on the ShopBot website can help customers identify what tool they have when they’re ready to discuss a tool upgrade with the staff at ShopBot. 

Contact ShopBot via phone at 888-680-4466, or visit the website, for information on training options, including free videos and documentation, classes at the ShopBot facility in Durham, NC, and customized professional development on-site.

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