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CNC Shark HD4 In-Depth Review

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9Expert Score
CNC Shark HD4

CNC Shark HD4 is an ideal option for those who wish to have a rigid machine that's capable of delivering professional quality work like heavy milling.

Affordability
6
Quality
9
Capability
9
Practicality
9
User Expectations
8.4
PROS
  • Able to cut accurate parts from most materials
  • Capable of removing many materials with each pass
  • Manages to complete projects relatively faster
  • Offers enough working space to do projects with large-sized objects
  • Can cut various types of materials
  • Overall construction is rigid and stable
  • Has a simple setup
  • Comes with a two-year warranty
CONS
  • It's heavy and consumes a lot of space hence you’d have to have a dedicated space
  • The machine’s pendant is known to start to malfunction after some use
  • VCarve software is only compatible with Windows operating system
  • Spindle doesn’t typically shut off automatically
  • The machine makes a howl while moving on all the three axes

Manufactured by the Ohio-based Next Wave Automation Designs, the CNC Shark HD4 is an advanced version of the Shark Pro Plus. It is an ideal example of an affordable yet high-quality CNC machine.

Being a part of the Shark series, HD4 offers numerous upgrades from its predecessor along with some completely new features that suit professional users.

The first and the most noteworthy upgrade being: the reinforced gantry which leads to enhancement of stability. The other one is the rigid interlocking aluminum table.

CNC Shark HD4 impression

The CNC machine has many more features which differentiate it from the list of other machines falling in the same price range. But are those features enough to make this machine a valuable one when compared to the price at which it is offered? Well, we can only tell after giving it an in-depth look. So, let’s get started.

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Features

Apart from the two of the most noteworthy features mentioned above, HD4 also has a new touch-screen pendant controller which makes users’ overall interaction more interactive. An auto-alignment function with X and Y homing capability makes things a lot easier even for beginners.

Moreover, some users really appreciate how the machine is compatible with commercial routers and carve metal with other materials. Also, it offers a relatively large workspace permitting users to take projects of varying sizes. Below mentioned and explained are some of the most striking features of the machine.

Huge Work Area

HD4 houses a huge work area i.e., 25 inches * 25 inches * 7 inches which is almost four times that of the standard X-Carve model offered by the company.

This is a really massive workspace that opens up a lot of probabilities in terms of the variety of projects that can be done on the machine. As a user, you can cut more parts from larger workpieces, make complete size designs, and even carve panels on a single screen.

Capable of Cutting Various Materials

The machine features a rigid interlocking aluminum table as well as a robust gantry. Also, the overall structure of HD4 includes thick steel shafts, lead screws, and adjustable bearings that give it the required stability during heavy cutting.

Because of such an arrangement, you can use the machine with large routers that are meant for commercial use. HD4 is capable of carving and machining a wide variety of projects that include processing materials like hardwood, laminate, soft metals like aluminum and plastics.

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Easy to Use Interface

The CNC Shark HD4 is offered with a handle control in the form of a touch screen pendant that is extremely convenient as it not only eliminates the need of connecting with the computer but also saves space.

A simple user interface makes the machine easy to use. Users can operate the complete machine using the pendant. You can toggle it manually up, down, near, right, or left.

Moreover, you can set the X and Y homing position and also stop the movement of the gantry as well as the spindle from the pendant in case anything goes wrong. The overall operation of HD4 is simple.

Equipped with Separate Spindle Controller

The unit doesn’t plug into the CNC controller. It has an appearance like that of a UPS with an LCD screen and some buttons. Using it, you can adjust the spindle speed and change the format or measuring unit of the speed.

After doing the tool change, it is able to tell you which tool you are using. Moreover, as soon as the machine completes the first tool path after the pocket tool path is done, it returns the spindle to its starting position.

Specifications

Recommended spindle

T30506 water-cooled spindle

Price

3999 $

Cutter diameters

1/8 inch and ¼ inch

Spindle speed

24,000 RPM

Working area

25 inches * 25 inches * 7 inches

Connectivity

USB Flash Drive

Software

VCarve Pr
Vector Art 3D sampler pack

The recommended spindle option for HD4 is Next Wave Automation’s T30506 water-cooled spindle. It has a horsepower of 2KWh and uses an ER-11 collet.

The cutter diameters that can be used with the machine are 1/8 inch and ¼ inch. The spindle is known to operate with a speed of 24,000 RPM. HD4 offers a working area of 25 inches * 25 inches * 7 inches.

It can be controlled using a touch-screen pendant controller. Users get an option of USB Flash Drive to connect with the machine. It is compatible with software such as VCarve Pro and Vector Art 3D sampler pack.

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Price

The CNC Shark HD4 is available for $3999.99.

CNC Shark HD4 was featured in our article: 15 Best CNC Routers

First Impression

CNC Shark HD4

The first thing that strikes out when you get to see the construction of the Shark HD4 is its rigidity and stability. The machine has a heavy-duty gantry made from a thick aluminum plate and polyethylene while the bed is from an equally thick extruded Aluminium featuring multiple grooves for attaching clamps.

One can say that the machine manufacturer has learned from the downside of its previous models. HD4 has a sturdy as well as stable setup design that reduces wobbling as well as backlashing, which was a problem with its predecessors, specifically when carving metal as well as other slightly hard materials.

The heavy-duty stepper motors control overall movement on all three axes. Also, they drive the threaded lead screws that are equally thick and durable. Moreover, the movement is guided using adjustable linear bearings that are on heavy steel shafts.

HD4’s overall construction is quite stiff and capable of providing a great amount of stability while cutting. It is equipped with Next Wave Automation T30506 water-cooled spindle that features ER-11 collet framework allowing users to either use 1/8 inch or ¼ inch shark bits.

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Setup

The complete unit is relatively easy to set up. All that you have to do is work a little bit on:

  • Attaching the gantry to the base
  • Mounting the router
  • Attaching the pendant
  • Calibrating the bed

After performing these steps, the final step is to register the machine on its manufacturer’s website. That’s it! You are ready to go hereafter.

CNC Machining Quality

CNC Router

HD4 delivers outstandingly accurate parts and functional prototypes, specifically when accompanied by the 3D carving module.

The NWA 3D digital touch probe – a 3D duplicator that you employ to scan or trace a 3D image and either duplicate or reproduce the object to the tiniest details can duplicate an object down to around 0.001-inch detail.

Such a high accuracy makes the machine perfect for cutting out intricate shapes or doing projects that are detail-sensitive like carving/engraving a custom circuit board. Above all, the machine delivers great results with other complex projects like carving inlays and corbels from plastics, wood, or soft metals.

Software

Although the machine does not come along with separate CAM software, it is paired with VCarve Pro design software along with Vector Art 3D sampler pack. Note that, the former one provides more features than most other CAM software, that’s relatively more than what average users will ever need.

It permits users to cut not only in 2D but also in 3D and has powerful drawing tools with hundreds of clip art files enabling you to come up with the design of the part or project you wish to, right from scratch. The program also includes the virtual zero function that assists for twists and warps in the workplace as well as the table.

Having stated so, the application does take some effort in understanding and master it. But, the instructional videos and tutorials are available to guide you through the complete process. Also, the software is compatible with 3D modeling programs such as SketchUp.

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Customer Support

In case you face any issue with the machine, getting customer support from the manufacturer is not a hassle at all. There are multiple ways in which you can reach out to them, two of the most common ones being:

  • Via website
  • Via phone

The team is always quick to respond. Apart from this, the company has a very active and supportive community including their own shark forums where users can access information.

Parameters Influencing Buying Decision

cnc bed

The most important factors that are good to know before making your buying decision are mentioned below in brief.

CNC machine cost: Although a bit on the higher end, it’s relatively justified.

CNC machine quality: The machine is able to deliver excellent results with varying geometries.

CNC machine capability: Users can cut parts of various materials and sizes with ease.

CNC machine practicality: Shark HD4 finds application in various fields wherein there is a need to manufacture various geometries from already present shapes.

CNC machine user expectations: Primarily, professional users are going to love operating the machine.

The Verdict

Overall, the CNC Shark HD4 is a stable-performing CNC machine with power-packed features. Its robust build-up lets it cut different kinds of materials with commendable accuracy as well as provides enough working space for doing large projects.

The machine turns out to be an ideal option for those who wish to have a rigid one capable of delivering professional quality work like heavy milling.


Editorial Team

Editorial Team

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