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USITT Stage Expo 2024 Recap

By Sallye Coyle, Thursday, April 11, 2024

At the 2024 USITT Stage Expo ShopBot renewed long-term relationships and formed new partnerships with scene shops, prop shops, and costume departments in the theatre industry. The ShopBot booth was full of new sample work with a focus on lesser-known CNC machine techniques that are well-suited for theatre. Mold making, leather cutting, and mask making were featured on and around our Desktop CNC machine and Desktop MAX ATC CNC machine alongside some traditional CNC examples of both 2D and 3D varieties.

In the middle of setting up the ShopBot booth at the expo, the Desktop MAX ATC was running through its multiple bit tool-change routine and caught the eye of Jim Lile of Florida State University. We had a conversation about FSU’s very old ShopBot that is still in use, and their newer, bigger, ShopBot 5’ x 10’ PRSalpha ATC with Rotary Indexer. He reminded me that they had a fun time several years ago hosting Camp ShopBot at their school. Jim and one of his students wanted to know if ShopBot could organize a regional training at FSU, or possibly a regional USITT event (which could be similar to the USITT master class that took place in 2018.) The answer was, “Of course! Let’s be in touch after the show.” 

The display at the ShopBot booth included examples of carving 3D models with 3 axis machines and 4th axis accessories. Many theatres and production companies that own ShopBot CNC machines use them for creating big sets, decorative floors, and props for shows, as displayed in the following slideshow, and they can do so much more!

For costuming, the option of using a drag knife or rotary cutter to cut leather, vinyl, or even cloth, was on display.

Other ShopBot customers came by and were often pulled into conversations with people interested but unsure of how they could incorporate CNC technology into their program. For example, Steve Decker, who had a ShopBot at Mendocino College in Ukiah installed in December 2019, shared with one woman about how the ShopBot had changed the capabilities of their shop, and how he received funding for the purchase and installation and training for the equipment. 

Our workshop entitled “Prop Lab – Incorporating Digital Fabrication (CNC Technology) Into Set Production, Props and Costuming” served as an introduction to the possibilities and capabilities of ShopBot CNC machines. It was designed to inspire those who were new to CNC technology and provide helpful reminders and tips to long-time users to expand upon their skills and creativity. It inspired some folks to come by the ShopBot booth afterwards for more in-depth conversations.


We’re reaching out to everyone we talked to at the show over the next several weeks. If we didn’t catch you at the show, or you were unable to attend, and would like any info as to how ShopBot CNC machines can transform your theater program and more, email or call 888-680-4466. You can also schedule in-person training and professional development workshops.

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ShopBot Tools, Inc.

Toll Free: 1-888-680-4466

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ShopBot Tools, Inc.
3333-B Industrial Drive
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