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Hometown Installation and Training at Durham Tech

By Ross Gruet, Wednesday, May 11, 2022

ShopBot provides CNC tool installation service and on-site CNC training all over the world. We feature a handful of installations and tune-ups throughout a given year. While most installations and trainings are completed by just one field tech, this past April (2022) we had the privilege of sending a handful of ShopBot employees to an installation and training session in our hometown of Durham, North Carolina. Durham Technical Community College, or Durham Tech for short, has a newly renovated applied technology building that houses a woodshop, metal shop, automotive shop, and more.


The CNC tool ShopBot assembled in Durham Tech’s main maker space is a PRSalpha ATC with vacuum hold-down. They also have a new ShopBot Desktop MAX ATC that arrived fully assembled and ready to use.


Here’s a brief rundown of activities from the 3-day installation period and 2 days of staff training:


Day 1:

First we unboxed the shipping crate and took inventory of all the parts to assure we had everything needed to get going. Then came assembly, leveling, and squaring of the table. The vacuum was then positioned under the table close to its final destination. The gantry was installed next, followed by the control box, spindle, and associated cabling. The plywood base layer was temporarily laid down but not yet bolted into place just so we had a surface to work on while testing spindle and gantry movement with the control laptop.

Left photo: Unboxing the shipping crate. Right photo: Measuring and marking extrusions for table assembly 

Various stages of table assembly


Day 2:

The next day we started with some control box connectivity and then moved on to installation, calibration, and testing of the automatic tool changer (ATC). Once dust collection was connected, we laid out the spoil board, temporarily, to cut out the plywood base layer and drill holes exactly where we need them for proper fitment to the table frame. Once cut out, the base layer was bolted down.

Left photo: Control Box installation. Right photo: Securing cables/wiring in the cable track.


Day 3:

At the top of Day 3 the vacuum plenum layer was glued to the base layer and the vacuum zone grids and plumbing holes were cut. Plumbing for the vacuum system was then installed. The spoil board was then installed and surfaced.

Highlights video from Durham Tech


Staff Training: Day 1

We had a great time getting to know the Durham Tech staff in attendance for ShopBot basic training. ShopBot engineers Alex Hardison and Ryan Patterson described common terminology, demonstrated core knowledge of CNC tool operations, and had everyone move the gantry around with the keypad arrows and type in zeroing commands to familiarize with operations they will perform every time they use their new PRSalpha. Once the overview was complete, it was time to create the very first projects on the CNC! Ryan demonstrated pocketing and V-Carve tool paths on two different plywood signs. Appropriately, we chose the Durham Tech logo for these samples.

Left photo: Learning about CNC bits. Right photo: Durham Tech staff learn about CAD related to CNC operations.


Staff Training: Day 2

A few weeks later Ryan and a few ShopBot employees returned to conduct another full day of ShopBot CNC fun! This day leaned heavily on CAD software basics with Vectric Vcarve Pro (which is widely used in the CNC world and is included software with every ShopBot CNC tool purchase.) All staff members were asked to think up one fairly simple design they would like to cut on the CNC. Each design provided a unique set of challenges. This group learned quickly and cranked out some fun projects!

Durham Tech staff share their first ShopBot CNC projects.


Durham Tech staff are well on their way to teaching CNC operations to students. We’re very excited to see what everyone creates with the two ShopBot CNC tools in their program! And we learned something truly amazing in our time on campus: North Carolina Public School students can apply to attend Durham Tech TUITION-FREE for up to two years, during or after graduating from high school. How cool is that?! Very cool.  


Durham Tech: Website, Instagram

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