Common issues with CNC machines

Know where the issues start

Considering what a CNC machine does, it’s a pretty amazing thing. The ability to cut, shape, and form all kinds of raw materials into precise, functional, and unique products is a truly amazing accomplishment of modern engineering. But all the capability comes with a downside. Due to the extreme accuracy and control demonstrated by CNC machines, when issues arise, the consequences can be disastrous. For all their complexity and capabilities, CNC machines still require time and attention to prevent downtime and diminished productivity.

1 | CNC starts with “Computer”

The acronym “CNC” stands for Computer Numerical Control and that means integrating a computer, its programming, and a machine to perform precision tasks repetitiously. While a computer is a perfect partner for accomplishing tasks over and over, it can also be a hindrance if the computer, the programming, and the machine aren’t 100% in sync. Many CNC machine issues are founded in the programming language or functionality of the computer hardware. In many cases, new applications placed onto older computer equipment causes conflicts in machine performance.

2 | Keep a clean machine

Taking care of a CNC machine is like maintaining any other production machine. Without proper maintenance and upkeep, a CNC machine will begin to fail in many different ways. Routine and scheduled maintenance schedules must be maintained or machine calibration may not be accurate. The liquid emulsions, shavings, and other debris build up quickly and must be cleared to avoid production misfires and ticks. Smart production floor managers and supervisors know the value of proper maintenance and preventative maintenance when it comes to keeping a CNC machine online and producing.

3 | Use the right materials and solutions

The different chemicals a CNC machine is exposed to can also cause issues in machine performance. Using improper lubricants or emulsions can result in damaged workpieces and tools. CNC tooling manufacturers specify the best liquids to use in conjunction with different tool cutting or processing methods.

4 | Use the best tools for the job

Understanding which and how to best employ tools used by a CNC machine will avoid a common issue with production problems. Different tools require unique speed rates and pressure settings to accomplish their tasks and when those calculations aren’t correct, problems ensue. Tool coupling and de-coupling from spindles can be one area that causes issues. Programming in the CNC control system can become mixed-up creating tool conflicts and errors in tool exchange routines.

Consider all possibilities

Troubleshooting a CNC machine takes time but it’s worth the effort when things aren’t working properly. Careful and deliberate attention to the smallest detail often provides the answers to problems with the CNC machine. If you think about all the machine working parts, computer systems, tooling, and other components that are onboard a modern CNC machine, it can be overwhelming.

That’s why it’s always best to simplify and distill issues down to their essence before beginning to repair any problems. Thank goodness CNC manufacturers, CNC service technicians, and dealers are available online, by phone, or by email to help solve issues. With all the resources available to resolve problems and issues there’s no reason any conflicts can’t be remedied rapidly.

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