February 3, 2022

Long Mill CNC vs Shapeoko

Features and Characteristics of long mill CNC

The Long Mill strives to build upon Mill One by giving a simple, affordable, open-source CNC platform. The LongMill is a CNC machine, opening up new possibilities for larger projects. It comes with 1/4 inches laser-cut steel gantries on all axis and MGN12 high-precision linear guides on the Z-axis. It is compatible with trim routers and drag chains on the X and Y-axis. It also works with a dust shoe.

Power

The LongMill is faster and more rigid than the Mill One, allowing the machine to do more work in less time, and making it easier to machine more materials. That makes it one of the perfect platforms for users to learn and explore CNC milling. It focuses on being a powerful tool for your workshop.

Size

The LongMill comes in three sizes, 12×12, 12×30, and 30×30, which correspond to the approximate work area of the two machines in inches.

Ease of use

It is easy to assemble and fix and takes a few short hours. The Mill is also easy to modify and replicate. The LongMill built is versatile since it can be modified for multiple access.

Value for the money

The product is a value for money. The LongMill aims to be the most rigid and powerful machine in its class, while it remains one of the best affordable options.

Rails

It features 2x2x1/4 inches extruded dual-angle aluminum rail on the Y-axis. Y-axis rails are supported along the axis, maintaining a minimal flex.

Leadscrews

It comes with 4-start T8 ACME 2mm pitch lead screws on all axis with anti-backlash Delrin nut blocks. That should provide at least +/- 0.1mm accuracy.

Motor

The Long mill has a single NEMA 23 motor on the X and Z axis, with dual NEMA 23 motors on the Y-axis. All are 178.5oz inch motors. It features TB6600 type drivers and a 24V 10A power supply.

Software

The LongMill is compatible with the CAMLab and other great software you can find.

Features and characteristics of Shapeoko 3 CNC

Design and Size

Shapeoko 3 is a triple-axis CNC router kit, simple to assemble, understand and operate, and gives functionality. When it comes to design and size, the Shapeoko 3 is available in 3 different sizes: standard, XL and XXL. Each size has a different cutting area, footprint, and weight. For a portable and less space-consuming machine, then the standard size would be an ideal pick.

Frame

Shapeoko 3’s 10-gauge, strong aluminum steel frame makes a professional-grade motion controller. It runs on the GRBL framework that is open source. It features NEMA 23 stepper motors combined with a spindle. These allow you to carve aluminum, plastic, and wood using Shapeoko 3 effortlessly. You can even cut carbon fiber, PCBs, and steel using Shapeoko 3.

Assembly

Shapeoko 3 is difficult to assemble. Assembling the machine takes 2 hours, but it can last for 5 to 6 hours. Seek professional help if it gets complicated. There are factors to consider before you start assembling the machine.
Install a workbench to place the CNC machine and ensure the area around the workbench is clear for 360-degree access. All tools required to build and assemble Shapeoko 3 tool are in the assembly box. There is no physical instruction manual to build with. You can check the online manual on the manufacturer’s website to get the latest assembly build details.

CNC Software

Shapeoko 3 operates on two software: Carbide Create and Carbide Motion. Both CNC software is available for Windows and Mac OS X users. Using Carbide Create and Carbide 3D Motion, you can create 2D designs and send them to the CNC machine.

Carbide Create

Carbide Create is a 2D CAD/CAM program with instant access features and tools, and a user-friendly interface. The software features a powerful 3D simulation tool that showcases how Shapeoko 3 will perform the assigned tasks.
Start by feeding information about the stock material and experiment with the 2D drawing. When your design is finalized, the software will ask you the design you want for individual sections.

Carbide Motion

Carbide Motion is a machine control program for the tool. The software is easy to use and interactive. It combines a PC controller and a rooted processor installed on the CNC machine.

Setup

To set up Shapeoko 3, use the Jog setting to bring the machine in motion and set the zero point. Switch on the spindle and press Run to start the CNC machine.

Key similarities

Both machines have the same form factor and working area. They come in almost the same size and come in two or three variations depending on the size.
They have a similar v-wheel and eccentric nut setup. That works for this type of machine since it is affordable and durable.
Same router/spindle. Both machines have the same spec trim router. The model and brand may be different, but power and size-wise, they are the same.
Same size stepper motors. Each machine has four NEMA 23 motors almost of the same size.
Both machines come with CAM software (Carbide Create and Easel) created for the Shapeoko and X-Carve. Both Carbide Create and Easel are used for any CNC machine regardless of the manufacturer. There are tons of other software that are fully compatible with the LongMill.

Key differences

Lead screws on all axis

Unlike the Shapeoko, it comes with lead screws on all axis. The belts are affordable, stretching and tensioning issues causing frustration and inaccuracies. The belts make it easy to lose position during tool changes if bumped. Lead screws are much more accurate and do not stretch over time. There are slimmer chances of being bumped out of zero for tool changes.

Linear guides on the Z-axis

The Long mill uses MGN12 type linear guides on the Z-axis, making it the stiffest and lowest profile Z-axis. That makes it lower profile leaving a difference since it creates a smaller lever arm between the end mill and the X-axis rail.

Gantry plates

The Long mill has ¼ inch steel gantry plates, while the Shapeoko is 10ga steel (0.1345″). The LongMill uses gantries near twice the thickness, making it more rigid.

Motor

The LongMill and X-Carve can support up to 4A current each to the stepper motors, whereas the Shapeoko 3 has a max current of 2A. The LongMill has its current set to around 2.5A, but you may use a higher current for motor upgrades.

Support

There is full support along the Y-axis of the Long mill. There is a significant amount of flex along the Y-axis rails of the X-Carve. That is not a problem with the Shapeoko 3 since it has beefier rails, but the LongMill reduces flex by supporting along the Y-axis.

Leadscrews

The Longmill comes with lower rapids. Since the lead screws have a reduction effect, the LongMill has slower rapids than belt-driven machines. The rapid’s speed is around 4000 mm/min on the LongMill versus 5000 mm/min on the Shapeoko. Although they do not matter much during regular milling, you will not be cutting that fast.

Wasteboard

No wasteboard is in the Long mill. You can choose not to include this for the Shapeoko. You can get material for the wasteboard at your local hardware store. The savings get passed along to building the machine stronger and more affordable.

Price comparison

Compared to other machines, the LongMill is the most affordable. When compared to affordable machines with the same spec, after adding motors and controllers, it remains at entry-level.

David D. Hughes
Latest posts by David D. Hughes (see all)

Leave a Reply