talon wrote:I know that individuals in the community are working on many of the above areas, and are freely providing that information in this forum and the Wiki, but will it ever effect the core project?
Judging by the past, the answer is yes, although not very extensively. I think Edward has a very clear idea of what his aims are, and he takes ideas and suggestions if they help him meet those, but doesn't let the project be steered in directions he doesn't think productive. It's very much still his baby. (And you meant affect, not effect.)
Also, I think the rate of new ideas on the forum has stayed more or less constant since I joined, despite a huge increase in traffic. My impression is that the increase is almost entirely questions and troubleshooting -- not a complaint, just a statement of fact.
Looking at your goals:
Lower price -- that probably won't happen. The price is right (many thousands sold), and Shapeoko 2 is a larger and more capable machine for only a little more money than the original Shapeoko, due in no small part to Edward's quest for cost reduction (and economies of scale).
Increased accuracy -- the machine is plenty accurate with no load; what it could use is more rigidity, but that costs money.
Increased work envelope -- increasing the size is trivial and has been done numerous times. This is a huge advantage of MakerSlide.
Additional capability -- I doubt Inventables would sell a diode laser conversion (for liability reasons), but there's nothing to it: buy diode, mount diode, done. Personally, I try to discourage people from doing it (too dangerous). The Shapeoko would make a lousy carbon dioxide tube laser; for a MakerSlide design, check out Bart Dring's "2.x" laser. 3D printing has been done and is easy.
Workholding/clamping options -- don't Inventables already sell those things?
4th or 5th axis -- not as easy as it seems. A few people have done a 4th axis, but one of the difficulties is CAM software. It seems free/cheap packages won't do rotary axes.
More complete, open source spindle options -- you can't beat off-the-shelf trimmers and routers for price/performance ratio, and Chinese spindles abound, of various types and at various attractive price points. An open-source option that costs more but does not improve on the existing offering would not appeal to many.
Increased aluminum capability -- you need rigidity; see "accuracy" above.
Integrated dust control -- that's at odds with the "lower price" goal. It'll always be an add-on. Several solutions exist, including a few for sale (Improbable Construct's dust shoe, for example).
Automatic tool changer -- not feasible with off-the-shelf, inexpensive spindles. A decent design would cost more than the machine itself. (I'd be happy to be proven wrong.)
Limit/Home switches integrated into the core project -- you get mounting points for them, and all you need are some standard microswitches, but, for some reason, most people ignore the mounting points and mount the switches in all sorts of interesting ways, and/or opt for more exotic switch types. Granted, it would be nice to have something for the Z axis too. (I just caved in to multiple demands and ordered these
Simpler construction -- maybe it will happen, although it's fairly minimal now. In fact, the Shapeoko 2 has a few design decisions that make it simpler to build, but affect performance somewhat. I'm thinking of the separate X rails (they're better bolted together, but that complicates the assembly), and the fact that the front and rear X V-wheels are on separate bolts (the carriage would be a little more rigid if they shared a bolt, but more difficult to put together and adjust).
Dust enclosure -- see "Integrated dust control". We've seen several designs, but the nice-looking ones aren't cheap, and the cheap ones are, well, just that.