What to do when your CNC machine stops operating

August 12, 2017

It’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to you. You’ve optimized your CNC machine, and entire shop, for maximum production efficiency. Everything’s fine-tuned and couldn’t be going better.

Then your CNC machine suddenly stops operating. It just sits there, doing nothing. Maybe you were in the middle of production. Or maybe you started the warm-up routine, but nothing happened.

Even the best machinery breaks down eventually. It’s inevitable.

So, once you’re done having your panic attack and have come back down to earth, what do you do?

1. Here’s some ideas:
  • Check your geometric alignments
  • Examine electronic controls
  • Inspect servo motors
  • Address heating and contaminant issues

Every CNC machining environment has all kinds of unhelpful conditions. Most production floors run hot. Your AC cabinet can get clogged with contaminants like lubricant, cutting fluid, scrap metal shavings, dirt, oil, and dust, reducing its ability to keep your production floor from running too hot.

High heat causes severe damage to amplifiers, controllers, power suppliers, HMIs, PLCs, and so on. Fluids can result in high humidity, which causes damage to your circuit boards.

2. The Best Solution: Preventative Maintenance

You can certainly engage in a reactionary approach and fix whatever needs to be fixed to get operating again.

But, you’ll be best served by doing the preventative maintenance necessary that keeps your CNC machinery running longer and with greater efficiency:

Clean and replace contaminated AC filters as appropriate

Seal the AC cabinets to keep them cooler longer

Routinely check fans to ensure good operating condition

Clean heat sinks of all debris and contamination

Air intakes and dischargers should have clean air filters and unobstructed airflow

If you do those things, you’ll run into trouble with your CNC machinery far less often. You’ll run longer and more efficiently. You’ll produce more and you’ll have happier customers.

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