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November 14, 2019

4 signs it’s time to replace your CNC machine

By scribe

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The only thing worse than being limited by your equipment is failing to recognize and acknowledge that fact. It doesn’t matter how creative, intelligent, or technically proficient you are in the shop – if your machinery isn’t up to the task, you’re not going to produce quality results or beat your competition.

CNC machines are durable for the most part, but as with any high-powered technology, wear and tear always occurs with time. Gears will loosen, joints will lose flexibility, and the machine won’t perform like it used to – in fact, most companies find that they end up working against technological limits.

Recognizing issues

Thankfully, recognizing your equipment’s shortcomings isn’t often difficult – at least, it shouldn’t be. However, some shop owners and hobbyists fail to identify the common issues – either due to ignorance or stubbornness – which can hold back the productivity of their entire operation.

There’s certainly no room for stubbornness when it comes to your CNC machinery or your business. You’ve no doubt become rather attached to some of the tools that have been with you for years and have churned out hundreds of projects, but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Here are some common red flags to watch for that will help you recognize when it’s time to replace your CNC machine.

Efficiency lags dramatically

As wear and tear takes its toll on your machine, its productivity and efficiency will start to take a gradual hit. At first, this may not seem like much of an issue, but with time, this slowdown will continue to add up until it’s no longer financially feasible to wait for your machine when you could instead purchase a newer, more efficient replacement.

A good way to check this is to perform speed tests while conducting regular maintenance. This will show you how well your machine is keeping up with your scheduled production timelines and indicate whether or not it’s time to upgrade.

A few items to watch for in lag:

  • Do you wait on the machine or is the machine waiting on you?
  • Do you spend excessive time fixing what the machine did?
  • Do you have to do secondary operations to reach a satisfaction level?

Replacement parts are harder and harder to come by

In some instances, an equipment issue may be effectively remedied by purchasing a replacement part rather than replacing the entire machine. However, depending on the age of your machine, such replacement parts may not be readily available or the manufacturer may have stopped supporting the product altogether.

Manufacturers are constantly releasing new versions of their equipment and phasing out the older models. If you’ve had the same machine for even five years, finding certain parts compatible with it may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Many imported machines are sold to be as good as the local machines but a big concern is the readiness of parts down the road – your business does not stop so your machine cannot either.

Your machine no longer serves your purpose

When you first got into CNC work, you may have been solely focused on a specific area of the craft, such as producing one-off prototypes out of metals like aluminum or brass. A small, relatively inexpensive CNC plasma or CNC router may have done the trick then, but if you’ve started expanding your production scope to include larger projects and a greater variety of materials, a more versatile CNC plasma or  CNC router will likely better serve your needs.

Perhaps when you started the times were different but in today’s CNC world, tooling has come a long way. You’re no longer as limited by technology as you used to be.

If your goals in the shop have changed but you’re not sure which machine will work best, one of the experts at ShopSabre can help lead you down the right path.

Safety has become a concern

A machine that doesn’t function properly represents a serious hazard during production. Many of a CNC machine’s most important features relate to safety, and if malfunctions are occurring more frequently and you’re starting to feel at risk during operation, it is undoubtedly time to replace it.

Things to consider:

  • Is your machine losing position?
  • Does your hold down system allow parts to move around?
  • Does your machine crash periodically?
  • Does your controller stop responding?
  • Do you have an “oh, there’s a trick to that”?

Increased efficiency and profitability never make up for a decrease in safety.

Upgrade your CNC capabilities with ShopSabre

ShopSabre’ s industry-best CNC machines provide precision, efficiency, and total versatility to help aspiring hobbyists and full-time commercial shop owners alike produce truly outstanding results with a fraction of the labor. Upgrade your machine today to take your shop’s quality and productivity to the next level.

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