Tips for Maintaining Machine Tools

tips for maintaining machine tools

CNC machines are the workhorses of many machine shops, sometimes operating 24 hours a day to meet production schedules. When these shops experience downtime, they face the possibility of delayed shipments, high repair costs, and dissatisfied customers. One of the best ways to limit these potential drawbacks is by implementing an effective maintenance routine for your machine tools. Use these tips for maintaining machine tools to keep your machines running smoother, stronger, and longer!

Providing your machine tools with the proper care helps ensure that your equipment runs in peak condition as it ages. Setting up a regular schedule to inspect, calibrate, clean, and maintain all your tools and equipment is the first step in ensuring many years of reliable service. Learn more about the importance of machine tool maintenance and tips for which practices are the most critical.

Why Regular Machine Tool Maintenance Is Important

Machine tools contain many vital parts that require timely and proper maintenance. Any experienced CNC machine operator will tell you that maintenance is critical to a successful operation. Operators must understand that an effective maintenance program means identifying or preventing problems before they occur, rather than addressing a serious issue after it happens.

Reasons why regular machine maintenance is important include:

  • Safety: Preventing injuries is critical to a machine shop’s operational safety and productivity. Equipment-related accidents due to inadequate tool maintenance can lead to significant consequences for workers and the shop. Effective preventive maintenance routines for tools and equipment are the backbone of every successful safety program.
  • Extended equipment life: Performing tool maintenance helps ensure your equipment meets its expected life span and holds its value over time for a solid return on investment. When shops ignore repair issues or fail to allocate time for maintenance, tool life can decrease significantly.
  • Superior quality: Effective tool maintenance directly affects the quality of a machine’s finished piece. A shop needs reliable tools and machinery to manufacture items to strict quality specifications. Shortcuts with maintenance practices can lead to potential variations in tooling performance and reliability.
  • Cost savings: The cost of preventive maintenance is minimal compared to costly repairs or breakdowns. Extended downtime often results in canceled orders and the eventual loss of customers. In addition, tooling maintenance saves money by minimizing production spoilage and waste.
  • Maximum efficiency: Well-maintained tools enable your CNC machines to operate much more efficiently, maximizing your shop’s uptime by keeping disruptions to a minimum. Efficient equipment also uses less energy and resources, potentially reducing your facility’s utility costs. In addition, flexible scheduling allows you to plan maintenance checks when they least impact your daily operations.

5 Tips for Maintaining Machine Tools and Equipment

5 Tips For Maintaining Machine Tools

Every operation must establish a consistent maintenance routine that keeps tools and equipment in good working order to ensure the highest production levels. Here are the top five most crucial practices within an effective maintenance program.

1. Inspecting

All experienced CNC machine operators continuously remain attentive to everything around them, including the sights, sounds, and smells inside a shop. Anything out of the ordinary often indicates an issue with a machine, cutting tool, or process. Observing the quality of a part during production is one of the best indicators of a tool’s condition.

Machine tool inspection before, during, and after each use is vital to any CNC machine management program. Because some equipment can run anywhere from a few hours per week to non-stop 24/7, the wear and tear on each tool depends on actual production time. Keeping track of installation dates and maintaining inspection logs can also be beneficial in understanding a tool’s use.

2. Cleaning

When production demands are high, it’s easy to overlook the importance of daily cleaning. Dirty machines and tools can result in significant problems both in the short and long term. Equipment clogged with hazardous materials can lead to employee safety issues. Grime can keep your machinery from operating efficiently and producing parts in spec.

Establishing and carrying out a routine cleaning schedule is essential for peak production and ensuring the longevity of your equipment.

3. Sharpening

The sharpness of your tools is a crucial factor for producing a high-quality finished piece. If the grinding or cutting components are not sharp enough, there’s a good chance your part will not meet product specifications, potentially leading to significant spoilage or waste. Using an unsharpened tool on a CNC machine also increases the possibility of equipment damage.

If your machine tools perform precision cutting, slicing, or drilling, it’s vital to check the tool’s sharpness levels frequently. One of the most effective ways to ensure the appropriate sharpness is to inspect the cutting tool before and after every use.

4. Lubricating

Because many machine tools constantly move, cut, or grind against other metal parts, they need the proper amount of lubrication to ensure optimal functionality. Lubrication decreases friction by creating a layer between the tool and the workpiece. Not applying enough lubrication can increase friction and produce overheating, leading to excessive wear or premature breakdown.

If you use a machine tool regularly, it’s important to check the lubrication levels of joints, internal components, and all moving parts. In addition, rust inhibitors can help prevent corrosion on the tools and the machined surface in specialized applications.

5. Providing Employee Training and Following the Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Your operation manuals can answer most questions regarding the operation, safekeeping, and maintenance requirements for your tools and machinery. Determining how often you perform maintenance can depend on your machine’s usage frequency. These manuals are also practical tools for troubleshooting many minor issues an operator might face during a production run.

Managers must ensure that each employee who conducts preventive maintenance receives the proper training for each machine type. Because your employees work on your equipment daily, they can be the greatest asset for ensuring your machines and tools reach their maximum life spans. Keeping your workforce up to date on industry trends and the latest technologies can help boost your long-term production and improve your facility’s overall performance.

Contact KAAST

Contact KAAST Machine Tools for More Information

The experts at KAAST Machine Tools understand the importance of maintaining your tools and equipment to produce the highest-quality parts with maximum efficiency. We offer some of the industry’s most reliable and productive machinery that delivers superior performance with minimal upkeep. You can also contact us for maintenance assistance.

To learn more about how our machines can benefit your operation, call 610-441-7317 or contact us online today.