A shaper machine is a type of machine tool that uses linear relative motion between the workpiece and a single-point cutting tool to machine a linear toolpath. Its cut is analogous to that of a lathe, except that it is linear instead of helical. A shaper is analogous to a planer, but smaller, and with the cutter riding a ram that moves above a stationary workpiece, rather than the entire workpiece moving beneath the cutter. The ram is moved back and forth typically by a crank inside the column; hydraulically actuated shapers also exist.
Shapers are mainly classified as standard, draw-cut, horizontal, universal, vertical, geared, crank, hydraulic, contour and traveling head. The horizontal arrangement is the most common. Vertical shapers are generally fitted with a rotary table to enable curved surfaces to be machined. The vertical shaper is essentially the same thing as a slotter (slotting machine), although technically a distinction can be made if one defines a true vertical shaper as a machine whose slide can be moved from the vertical. A slotter is fixed in the vertical plane.
Very small machines have been successfully made to operate by hand power. As size increases, the mass of the machine and its the power requirements increase, and it becomes necessary to use a motor or other supply of mechanical power. This motor drives a mechanical arrangement (using a pinion gear, bull gear, and crank, or a chain over sprockets) or a hydraulic motor that supplies the necessary movement via hydraulic cylinders.
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