The Origin, from the company Shaper, is an innovative hand-held CNC router that helps the user cut precise digital artwork created in a vector program (or in the machine's onboard computer!). It uses an onboard camera to scan the markers on Shaper Tape, which is easily installed on workpiece to prep it for cutting. The machine then digitally represents the work area on the screen, and allows you to place your artwork on the piece. Finally, the device can adjust the fine motions of the router bit to help the use cut out complex shapes. It's a fast, easy, and portable way to work on sheet materials for prototypes large and small!
Using the Shaper Origin starts with the tape. ShaperTape provides the fiduciary markers that the device uses to pinpoint it's location on the workpiece. Make sure you set up enough tape so that the machine can see a handful of markers from every potential cutting position for your design. In this setup, I have a sheet of foam underneath the plywood to provide some sacrificial material to space the router from the work table.
The Origin with create a digital representation of your workpiece by scanning the tape you have applied to your sheet material. After scanning, you will be able to import a .svg file, or draw simple shapes like circles or rectangles in the Design tab. Move the origin around to place your artwork on the sheet.
Before you start cutting, there are a few cutting parameters to set up in the Cut tab. Make sure to set the depth of cut and the diameter of the cutting bit you have installed in the router. Finally, you will need to Z Touch so that the device knows where the end of the cutting bit is. Do not touch the router during the Z Touch operation, or you may interfere with this precise operation.
Use the switch on the front of the machine to turn on the spindle. There is also a dial to set the cutting speed needed for your particular job. When you line the cutting bit up with a vector path, you will be given the option to start cutting. The router bit will plunge down, and as you follow the paths, the device with adjust your hand motions to keep you right on track! You can also use the Auto button to have the bit follow along the path while the router remains stationary, which is useful for tight corners and difficult sections.