Machines are tools. A good analogy is your car. If you treat it well, change the oil regularly, service it regularly, and so on, you can expect many years of good service from it. Mistreat it (or don’t look after it at all), and breakdowns and expensive repairs will be part of your life.
The same goes for your CNC machine. If you look after it, keep it clean and regular maintenance, it will serve you well for years to come. Neglect it, and something will go wrong at the least opportune moment!
A CNC machine is one of the most complex power tools these days. The X-Carve works in innovative and versatile ways. That is why you need regular maintenance. The most important thing with any machine is to keep it clean. It will save your device from rust, dust, and other problems that could be time-consuming to fix later on.
The machine has hundreds or thousands of individual parts that have to work correctly for the device to function correctly. If any of these machines are not maintained regularly, the chance is that you will start having problems with the machine.
Here are a few essential areas that you can ignore at your peril:
1) Dust removal – All machines need to be regularly cleaned inside and out. It ensures good airflow around the components, keeps the coolant flowing correctly. Keep all bearings clean and free from swarf (shavings).
2) Regularly check for loose screws. Make sure the bolts are all nice and tight.
3) Check belts for signs of wear; replace them if you need to.
4) Check tracks are not full of swarf or debris – brush these away if needed.
5) Regularly change your coolant/lubricant in your spindle and ensure it flows in the correct direction (usually inwards).
6) Make sure you regularly service your machine and replace worn or damaged components.
7) Check that any flexible shafts used in your machine are not kinked – replace them if they look like they have been bent.
8) Finally, although this may seem obvious, make sure you have enough power to run the machine. If the outlet is only a 16A socket and you are trying to use a heavy-duty spindle.
Essential maintenance should be enough to keep your machine running for years. If you are experiencing problems or don’t know basic maintenance procedures, I suggest you contact the device manufacturer or find someone who does this kind of work regularly.
CNC machines require regular cutting fluid/coolant. If you run your CNC machine without the appropriate coolant, the parts of your machine will get very hot. It can cause damage to the internals of your spindle and other components on your device.
Without lubrication, the bearings will fail faster than they should do. The swarf/metal bits created during cutting also have no means to escape and damage as they turn in the bearings.
There are plenty of other things to keep an eye on, but you should be ok for many years if these basics are covered. As always, if in doubt, consult your user manual for your specific machine or consult a shop or a professional that can help you.