Computer numerical control (CNC) machines are the lifeblood of many operations, which means you cannot tolerate anything but the best performance from them. After all, a single mistake or deviation in the production process means your work suffers.
So, how can you navigate these pitfalls and prevent errors from popping up during the production process?
First, you need to identify the five most common CNC machine problems before generating fixes for them.
CNC Machining Process Errors – The Big Five
Using a CNC router machine involves both art and science. You gain experience and skill over time. Oftentimes, CNC machine owners rely on trial and error to identify and correct CNC machine errors and solutions.
However, your success, sanity, and bank account can only weather so much trial and error. We try to answer some of the most common challenges faced in CNC machining and suggest ways you can solve them.
1. Improper Work Hold-down System
Improper work hold-down leads to material shifting and vibrations, which spells big trouble for your production process. Improperly held down parts can lead to poor quality work, damage to the workpiece or even, accidents, so, make sure all parts are properly held down.
To resolve this, follow these steps:
- Confirm that the material is positioned correctly on the table.
- Confirm your vacuum pump and pressure are set up adequately.
- If you have a zoned table, make sure the appropriate zones are turned on.
- Ensure that you do not have any vacuum leaks on your table.
- If using clamps, inspect the setting of clamps so they grip the material. Make sure there is a wide surface grip instead of a point grip.
2. Incorrect Machine Settings
The wrong machine settings can cause poor quality finishes on the material. This results in cutter marks on the surface, rough edges, burn marks, or raised marks on material edges and corners.
Poor material finishes can be caused by the improper feed of speed ratio. Wrong tooling for the job when it comes to the quality, bit size, or match with the material are also reasons for a poor quality finish.
You must choose the appropriate cutting tools and settings before a job begins. Failure to do this may cause damage to your final product as visible cutter marks or rough corners and edges. Proper planning ensures you have the best tool for each job. Where possible, do a trial run to make sure everything is calibrated correctly.
Improper design work is a common cause of most CNC cutting issues. Design issues might be hard to identify and remedy for newer users as they are not aware of the cutting errors the machine throws up.
Make sure the machine operator fully understands the machine’s controller. Have experienced operators oversee the production process, or you could have them create detailed instructions and user manuals for your new operators.
3. Untrained Operator
When jobs are coming fast, many businesses choose to hire outside help. But most extra help brought into the facility may not have proper training on how to handle CNC machinery. This may lead to improper use of the machinery causing costly breakdowns.
Human error is expected in any business. However, you can mitigate such errors through proper training and ensuring strict adherence to operating guidelines. This means training operators on how to use CNC software for each machine, understanding tooling, and setting up jobs on the CNC machine.
4. Irregular Maintenance
Lack of regular maintenance can cause a multitude of problems.
Debris buildup on the CNC can damage machine components. Dust buildup on the spindle can prevent air circulation which can cause the spindle to overheat.
Clean and lubricate your CNC machine regularly and carefully. Lack of cleaning leads to a buildup of debris and dirt, which impacts the machine’s output. An accumulation of dirt may cause damage to components. If unchecked, this could lead to greater issues with precision and accuracy and premature component failure.
5. Leaving Machine Unattended
Never leave your CNC machine unattended. Here are some of the things that could go wrong.
- A cutting bit might eventually hit a hold-down clamp. This could potentially damage the bit and the spindle.
- A bit may break during an extended cut. The CNC won’t notice and will continue cutting which will damage your material and ruin your job.
- Drilling operations can/might start a fire if using the wrong bit or too fast a plunge rate on certain materials.
- The material can come loose, usually messing up the project.
- The PC, if not set up right, might decide to do an update and reboot when it should be controlling the CNC.
- If using a router instead of a spindle, the brushes can go bad during a cut. This might end up breaking the bit if the router stops spinning while the CNC is still moving.
Put this Knowledge to Use
CNC router machine errors can be costly over the long run for your business. Follow these instructions to ensure you minimize the chances of these mistakes occurring and prevent them.