Avoid the pitfalls of poor ball screw lubrication.
Simply put, ball screw lubrication issues can cause major issues for CNC lasers. Broken lines can lead to a dry ball screw assembly, increasing the risk of wear and damage to the screw. Worn ball screws can lead to cut accuracy problems, impacting your ability to produce quality parts.
To put it in perspective, think of how and why you maintain your car’s engine. If you don’t regularly check and change the oil, it won’t take long before engine problems arise. Without oil to lubricate metal-to-metal contact, your car’s engine will suffer. Friction will cause it to get hot. Parts will break, and the engine may even seize up – resulting in costly repairs. Your car will be out of service until the repairs are complete, which can cause issues getting to work, and impacting other areas of your life.
Failing to provide your CNC laser with proper ball screw lubrication can have the same effect. The grinding metal-to-metal contact can cause significant ball screw wear, showing up as holes out of round, jagged edges on your cuts, and angles with waves. If you ignore these warning signs, your ball screw assembly can seize up – resulting in unanticipated downtime. You won’t be able to cut parts, jeopardizing your production schedule.
Ball screw lubrication issues typically occur in one of two ways. Either the operator fails to regularly grease/oil the ball screw according to manufacturer recommendations, or more commonly, the line in the system unknowingly needs repairing or replacing.
These situations can be avoided if you have a regular preventive maintenance plan in place. You can save thousands of dollars and hours, if not days, of downtime. Regular ball screw lubrication is a start, but if no one is checking the lube line, you don’t know if grease/oil is actually getting where it needs to be.
Consider this picture from a recent service call:
As you can see, there is a major leak, the line is missing a fitting, and the ball nut gets no lubricant. This wasn’t apparent to the operators, because they would have had to pull off the cover to see the lubricant was creating a pile of goop, instead of lubricating the ball screw assembly. Luckily, we quickly discovered the issues while on-site for a service call. The customer was alerted before any further damage was done.
Go beyond ball screw lubrication with clean/flush and inspection
Even with proper lubrication, over time, grease/oil buildup can coat the balls or get on the screw leads. This buildup consists not only of the grease/oil, but fine metal dust – together they form a grinding paste that can cause wear damage to the ball screw and bearings. To avoid wear, we recommend that our customers schedule a clean/flush and inspection service every two years or 4,000 machine service hours. We’ll come in and flush out buildup, clean the assembly and inspect the motion system for wear.
Never had your ball screw motion system serviced? Don’t delay! Contact us today!
We’re here to answer any questions you have about scheduling a clean/flush and inspection as part of your preventive maintenance plan.
(This post originally appeared on RPWrepair.com.)