The earliest handcrafted machine tools date back to 1200 B.C.E., and have now become a ubiquitous part of manufacturing, woodworking and metalworking for operations of all sizes. A machine tool is a piece of equipment that bores, shears, grinds, cuts or otherwise shapes rigid materials such as metal or wood (early examples include the woodworking lathe and the potter’s wheel). But since most modern machine tools are powered electrically or hydraulically, and deal with harder materials and more precise demands, it’s necessary to care for them to make sure they stay in working order. Aside from simply paying for machine tool services (which will almost certainly be necessary at some point), here are a few tips regarding how to take care of your machine tool:
- Lube it up:
Any parts of your machine tool that regularly rub together (think bearings, gears and sliding parts) should be kept properly oiled. Improper lubrication—either too much or too little—can cause damage.
- Clean up after yourself:
Clear scraps after every single project. In addition to tidiness just being good practice in a shop, anything left behind can gum up the works or conceal something you ought to notice and address immediately.
- Watch the weather:
Making sure your machine tool is always in a dry environment will go a long way toward extending its life span. If you must work outside when there is bad weather, use an appropriate canopy or covering. You’ll spend a lot less on an appropriate tent than constant machine shop services. If your businesses uses an industrial machine, make sure the work area is free of leaks and isn’t constantly damp.
- Check for safety and follow instructions:
Make sure all your safety precautions are working. Also make sure you’re reading all safety and instruction manuals carefully and following recommended service schedules. Machine tool repair is a lot cheaper than machine tool replacement. Modern machine tools have a lot of moving parts, and they all need to be working properly for the machine to be safe and effective.
- Keep an ear out:
Sure, machine tools will probably be loud no matter what. But unusual or changing noises are often a sign that you need to call for repairs or machine tool services. Make sure you’re hiring someone specifically qualified to work on your machine. Machine shop repair costs are inevitable, so plan ahead and save for when they do come up.
What are the most important machine tools in your shop? What do you do to keep them in working order? How often do you need to pay for machine tool services? Add your advice in the comments. Read more.