CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist

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Modern technology has simplified most daily activities ranging from household chores to industrial manufacturing. We have evolved to a computerized world where using autonomous machines has become a norm.

Luckily, they are fast and accurate than humans.

This article will discuss the CNC machine maintenance checklist to give you basic knowledge on maintaining your home machines.

But before getting into the maintenance, it’s good to understand what a CNC machine is and how it works.

CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist
CNC Machine

A CNC machine (Computer Numerical Control) is an automated manufacturing machine that relies on digital instructions to execute its operations.

It’s a machine operated through computer programming commands to shape raw materials to finished products of the desired design.

A computer-aided design (CAD) is made, and the computer interprets the geometrical dimensions to a software programming language (G-code).

Using these dimensions, it moves the drive system with the cutting tools to shape and develop the desired product according to the CAD.

 A CNC machine can work with various raw material products like;

  • Metals
  • Woods
  • Glass
  • Plastics

Examples of Common CNC Machines in the Market

CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist
CNC Machine

As the world has turned to artificial intelligence, there is a wide variety of CNC machines in the market today. Some of the most common are;

a) Drilling machines

The command function controls the drill bits in drilling machines to create cylindrical holes on the intended surface.

b) Milling machines

Milling machines rotate the cutting tools to remove parts of the workpiece and shape it to the desired design.

c) Plasma cutters

These machines cut steel and other metals by use of a plasma torch. Using a nozzle, gas is blown, and the electric arch is forced through the gas to make plasma.

Due to hot temperatures, the metals are cut by melting. Computer programs control all these processes.

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CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist
CNC Machine

How CNC Machining Process is Carried Out

To understand the processes of CNC machining and the components used, have a look at the table below;

1CAD conversionA computer-aided design is made and run through computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to extract geometrical and digital codes.
2Machine set upThe required raw materials are set into the drive machine, and the appropriate cutting tools are installed.
3Interpretation and executionThe command system interprets the design data and runs the drive system to cut the material and shape them according to the CAD.
4The feedbackThe feedback system has sensors that monitor the position of the workpiece and the speed of the operations to send the data back to the human operator. The observations ensure the machine has cut accurate dimensions as designed.
CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist
CNC Machine

CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist

A CNC machine has three primary components that work to complete the operations. For that reason, all the components should be maintained to ensure the smooth running of the machine. They are;

  • Command system
  • Drive system
  • Feedback system

1. Command System

A microprocessor-based system carries out command functions. The system contains several components that work together to execute and run commands to operate the whole system.

For the easy running of the machines, the following components should be maintained;

  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) – it decodes and changes the data into control signals that operate the system.
  • Input devices– they include storage devices that deliver the programs to the CNC control system.
  • Programmable Logic Controller– it makes logic decisions for the drive system. This component requires keen maintenance because it is exposed to harsh conditions like heat and moisture inside the machine.
  • Display unit– it is the interface between the human controller and the machine. It displays the status of the programs and the feedback from the whole machine.

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CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist
CNC Machine components

2. Drive System

The drive system involves the mechanical parts of the machine. It’s the main component and requires regular maintenance to ensure the machine runs smoothly. Here are the key maintenance practices to carry out;

Daily Preventive Maintenance

  • Check the hydraulic pressure and ensure it’s at the recommended level.
  • Check the fluids and lubricants- ensure the hydraulic fluids, the coolant, lubrication oil, and grease are at the required operational level.
  • Clean the cooling system to clear away build-up grime, especially if your machine is water-cooled.
  • Clear the viewpoints for the operator to easily monitor the progress of operations.
  • Clean the chip pan – trimmings from the workpieces fall off the machine floor. Excessive debris build-up can interfere with the operations.

Note, these trimmings shouldn’t be brown with an air gun. Blowing may push them to sensitive areas that may cause damages.

After Three Months Preventive Maintenance

  • If your machine has a conveyor, grease the chain on the chip conveyor.
  • Clean the coolant and the lubricating oil filters.

After Every Six Months Preventive Maintenance

  • Drain and clean the coolant and the hydraulic tanks.
  • Replace the coolant and hydraulic fluid filters. Later, refill the fluids.
  • Drain the lubrication oil, clean the filters, or replace.
  • Check and adjust your CNC machine leveling.
  • Remove the jaws and the chunk for cleaning. If damaged, replace.

These areas are a bit sensitive. For this reason, you’ll need a certified maintenance technician to help you if you have little knowledge about them.

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CNC Machine Maintenance Checklist
CNC Machine

Yearly Preventive Maintenance

  • Check the spindle for endplay or radial issue
  • Check the headstock and tailstock for taper and misalignments.
  • Check the chuck cylinder if it has run out
  • Inspect the whole machine for oil, coolant, or pressure leakages
  • Check the turret parallelism and inclination.

3. The Feedback System

The feedback system contains a system of sensors that monitor the speed and position of the workpieces to send the signal to the command system for interpretation.

Due to harsh conditions like heat and moisture inside the drive system, the sensors need to be regularly checked and maintained.

What Can You Make With a Home CNC Machine?

With a home CNC machine, you can carry out simple projects to earn money with a little knowledge. Using extra hardwood pieces, you can make;

  • Coin trays
  • Paintbrush holders
  • Door signs
  • Wooden name signs and badges
  • Cell phone stands and many others

Is CNC Hard to Learn?

Basic CNC is easy to learn. All you’ll require is a little knowledge of how machinery works and basic maths.

For intermediate programming, you can take a year or less to learn, while for advanced CNC, you need around four to five years to learn.

Are CNC Machinists in Demand?

CNC machinists are in high demand because the world has turned to Artificial Intelligence. If you have advanced machinery knowledge, you will have a higher demand for maintenance practices.

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Many people have less knowledge about CNC machine maintenance checklist and other modern machines. In this case, advancing your knowledge will reap good fruits in the near future.

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