Think about it…if you go to the doctor and he or she treats only your obvious symptoms, are you cured? Probably not. Sooner or later the problem will return. Getting at the root cause of the problem is key to the cure for both humans and machines.
For example, how many times have you or, let’s say somebody you know, replaced a damaged circuit board, only to have the same problem happen again? The circuit board often takes one on the chin for the team!
To protect your CNC equipment, you must first recognize (and eliminate/reduce) the repeat offenders: heat, dirt, corrosion, vibration, moisture, current surges, and voltage transients. Here are eight tips for preventing and dealing with your CNC machines and the control circuit board:
- Keep the air flowing, especially in sealed cabinets. Air conditioning is nice, but expensive. Just keeping the air flowing past these machines is often enough. Keep the cooling fan and duct filter clean and functional by inspecting at least every six months.
- If problems develop with your CNC, make sure to zero out the machine and move the spindle into the home position before troubleshooting.
- Keep things dry and clean. No sloppy pigs in the machine shop! (Unless they are soaking up oil!) Corrosion and dirt are some nasty customers but you may be able to avoid repairs, at least for a little while longer, by simply removing the board and reinstalling /reseating it. Which doesn’t cost you anything! The simple action of removing the board is often enough to loosen built up corrosion residue or dirt and reestablish a good connection to buy yourself some time before you need circuit board repairs.
- Lubrication and air are your CNC’s good friends. Make sure it is getting enough of both. If the air pressure or oil pressure get too low, the machine will not continue running properly costing you time and money.
- Clean out the chip drawer. I repeat…no sloppy pigs in the shop! Overfull chip boxes inhibit coolant flow creating excess heat which is never good.
- Inspect, or if necessary get someone who knows how to inspect your motor and your memory storage batteries. Change the batteries for your RAM memory once a year so you can rest easy knowing that if there is a power failure you will not lose critical information. Don’t forget to back up first!
- Have a SPARE circuit board configured and set with the proper dip switch setting if needed and know where it is. Your CNC machine will invariably break down during a rush job and you will be glad to have that spare. During slower times, load the spare circuit board into the machine just to test it.
- Last but not least, when you finally do need repairs, tell your service provider everything. Having all the information will speed up the evaluation and repair process.
When you do need CNC circuit board repairs, choose a reputable industrial electronic repair shop that provides free evaluations, good service, and a solid warranty.