View Full Version : Alpha or Standard for my needs

09-17-2008, 04:49 PM
After lots of reading and researching I've decided I will become ShopBot owner. I am torn between a standard or an alpha. Seems like the Alpha is more for production when my needs are to carve foam to make prototype molds for our thermal form vacuum table. We also want to be able to carve wood, plastic and sometimes aluminum (occssionally)to make signs etc. for our retail dealers. This will NOT be a production deal. My question is am I better off with a standard and spending extra to get a spindle, or going to an alpha but sticking with a porter cable router-- opinions please!

Thanks eh--PEZ

Gary Campbell
09-17-2008, 05:20 PM
I am of the opinion that a commercial shop should always choose the alpha/spindle combination, however, if your budget mandates a choice consider the following:

1) The foam cutting you describe will be easily handled by the standard.
2) The wood, plastic & even aluminum can be cut at slower speeds, and if you dont need to optimise cutting times, can also be handled by the standard.
3) One main advantage of the spindle is its ability to retain power at lower RPM than a router. Advantage when cutting hard materials such as plastic or aluminum.
4) The other advantage of the spindle is substantially less runout at the tool. A typical aluminum or hard plastic finish pass with a spindle can measure less than the runout of a router with only 100 hrs on it. High quality cuts almost mandate the spindle.
5) Dont forget to budget for hold down. This may limit your cutting more than the tool combination you select.
6) It is probably much easier to upgrade an alpha/router to a spindle than to upgrade a standard/spindle to an Alpha. SB sales can help you with this.

Find a shop near you with a ShopBot and possibly have them test cut some materials. Their setup may help your decision making.

Remember that as your abilities and imagination increase, so will your requirements of the machine. Allow yourself room to upgrade.

09-18-2008, 02:19 PM
Thanks--This does help!

The caster option is attractive as well--can the instability of wheels really upset the quality of cut?


09-18-2008, 02:32 PM
Woops--guess I should have read the post regarding this in the buddy section....

09-19-2008, 09:21 AM
you might want to talk about raising the gantry with shopbot before you buy...after the bit there isn't a ton of room for 3d carving

09-24-2008, 08:38 PM
Well I decided on a BT 48 alpha with the "entry" spindle. Were also doing casters, starter bits, and Im sending my right hand guy down to SB for 2 days of training. Thanks for all your help!--PEZ

09-25-2008, 09:15 AM

09-26-2008, 08:03 AM

Your profile says you use your machine for custom audio--My company does audio products for the powersports industry--we put speakers etc where it should never go
www.hogtunes.com (http://www.hogtunes.com) What do you do?

09-27-2008, 09:07 AM
I build and design high end speaker systems for home audio. Nice web site!

09-27-2008, 12:57 PM
Cool! I helped design a line of home audio speakers you can see at www.reelacoustics.com (http://www.reelacoustics.com) I started Hogtunes to finance the purchase of Reel--but Hogtunes is alot more fun and now doe alot more biz globally than Reel. I also used to work with Conrad Johnson and turned down a job to run Quad electronics for USA--small world--PEZ

09-27-2008, 02:41 PM
you sound like a guy with some "reel" back ground...I have heard of Reel. I just had to fix a pair of Cary's that I bought used. I'm pretty small time compared to you sounds like!

09-30-2008, 04:04 PM
Good choice PEZ. I'm guessing that choosing the best full 3D program to suit your needs may be somewhat tougher. Let me know what you go with :-)