MOVE THAT VISE !!! … It could mean more years for your machine tool.
It seems the simpler, often overlooked things can be the downfall of most shop equipment. Focusing on a few simple ideas can avoid those big repair bills and keep machine tools running like new much longer.
When most setups are done on a VMC, the workholding fixture is neatly mounted right in the middle of the table. Although it looks good, this is actually one of the worst “habits” for the machine. Locating the vise or fixture in the same place has the following harmful effects on the life of the machine:
- Table wear, resulting in dip or sag in one spot.
- Boxway or guideway wear on or around the spot, causing loose surface and gib contact, and shuck in the ways.
- Ball screw wear, resulting in excessive backlash in that one area of the screw, which cannot be repaired through CNC compensation.
Of course you’re going to clean the table completely before installing the vise.
Then are you going to place the vise so it looks nice and neat in the center of the table?
Placing the vise or fixture in or around the same area of the machine table will cause all of the above, with the most common symptom over time being backlash of the screw. When trying to compensate and set the backlash, the person making the repair will often find different backlash values when checking along the length of the axis stroke. This most often results in the need to replace the whole ball screw. Because most CNC machine controls only permit one backlash compensation value to be set in the parameters, compensating for the backlash cannot be effectively performed through the control.
You also may find that the gibs need to be adjusted in that area of the boxway, because the axis has some side-toside movement to it when moving. Squareness in that area will disintegrate; and, in the worst case, this shucking can be heard when the axis changes direction. The most common remedy of adjusting the gib in that area causes the axis to bind when it reveals to the other areas, because the boxway wear is different along the stroke. In this repair, the machine’s boxways may need to be reground, rescraped or both. In either of these cases, the repair bill will be huge.
The remedy is to make sure to move the vise or fixture location around on the tabletop whenever possible. You will see a more consistent wear pattern for the machine, and any backlash that occurs can be taken up correctly through the control. You will not be able to stop machine wear, but you can distribute it more evenly along the machine, which provides a longer life for all the components involved.
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