Understanding common causes of CNC machine issues.
Operating a CNC machine is a challenging task under any condition. Production output must be maintained despite extremely tight tolerances being achieved by high-speed tools performing multiple tasks. A mis-measurement or timing error of even the slightest variation can mean the difference between successful production and throwing away a lot of mistakes. As the saying goes, sometimes you can’t see the forest because of all the trees, the same is true for CNC machine operators. They’re so busy tracking computer functions, tool operation, workpiece quality, and a dozen other activities that it’s easy to forget about taking care of the machine itself.
1 | Lack of CNC Machine maintenance
Let’s talk about the reality of taking care of a CNC machine. It’s not easy. There are more moving parts involved than you find on a Space Shuttle and all those parts have to work in perfect synchronization or the whole effort is for nothing. Worse than nothing, the whole effort could end up as a waste of time, money, and production capacity.
Instruction manuals all tout the benefits of regular, routine machine maintenance but sometimes, an operator forgets or a maintenance action isn’t performed correctly. For many operators, the solution is to stay organized and never depart from a strict schedule of regular and preventative maintenance activities. If your workflow doesn’t incorporate the kind of time or skill required for preventative CNC maintenance, consider hiring a professional CNC repair service to perform these tasks on a regular schedule.
2 | CNC machine user error
CNC machine operators come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Some operators are seasoned veterans with years of experience to draw on and others are newbies just learning the trade. Regardless of how much time an operator has in service, CNC machines change and so do their operating protocols. Training and education help avert problems, but user errors are going to occur. The computer program may have a glitch or a tool mounting point may not be correct for the spindle, in any case, errors occur. While many user errors can be avoided with adequate training and oversight, sometimes things go wrong for no apparent reason. Troubleshooting guides can be very helpful in resolving user error problems.
3 | Loose fittings on CNC machine
CNC machines shake, rattle, and roll like nothing else on a production floor. They might sit in the same location all day long, but a lot is going on inside. Because of the amount of the movement, speed, and environment in which a CNC machine performs its tasks, the connecting points between components can become loose and malfunction.
Vibration is the big enemy and there’s not much that can be done about it. The best way to deal with the problem is to physically examine each electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, and mechanical connecting point on a scheduled basis. Records should be maintained detailing any issues that can later be reviewed with the CNC machine manufacturer’s service representative.
4 | Heat build-up in CNC machine
Despite all the attention and engineering devoted to reducing operating temperatures for CNC machines, heat build-up is still a big problem. Fast-moving, high-speed components develop heat from friction. Hydraulic lines and fittings can suffer from extreme temperatures while operating. Even pneumatic air lines can become hot and melt high-pressure hoses.
Proper filter maintenance helps reduce high temps by enhancing flow capacities through heat-dissipating radiators and air-cooled pipelines. Constant attention should be paid to all thermal indicators and operators are encouraged to place additional thermometers and heat-detection equipment in problem areas.
CNC best practices produce the best results.
When it comes to keeping a CNC machine functioning, it’s usually a simple matter to identify, diagnose, and repair any problems that might arise, However, there are those environments and situations where it’s better to utilize the talents of a factory-trained technician to resolve issues. CNC machine dealers spend a lot of time, money, and resources to ensure their technicians are up-to-date on the latest technology and best practices for CNC machine operation. Professional CNC repairs and maintenance provided by a certified dealer is always the best insurance against continuing machine operating difficulties.