Laser CNC Machines and the Jiggly-Squigglies

Worn ball screws and laser CNC machine cut issues

laser cncLook at the Cincinnati laser test cuts to the left. Does anything look familiar? Do your cuts on your laser CNC machine have similar issues? The far left image shows what we refer to as the “jiggly-squigglies” – wavy lines, corners and edges that prevent you from cutting a quality part.

What can cause this?

Most laser CNC machines tend to loosen up with age and production hours, and lasers with only 4,000 to 6,000 hours on them can show cut problems such as holes out of round and the jiggly-squigglies you see here. However, know that this is not usually a machinery quality problem; it is more often than not caused by a ball screw assembly worn from a combination of fine dust from cutting and grease/oil, which forms a sort of grinding paste that can cause wear on the ball screw assembly. Over time, this can wreck havoc on your ball screw assembly, resulting in cut accuracy issues, and reduced feed rates. Your production turnaround time can suffer, or you may not even be able to cut a quality part!

Notice the part on the right; following ball screw repair service, the test cut is dramatically improved. You can see accuracy of the cut is restored. Regular maintenance, what is called a clean and flush, can prevent the types of cut issues you see here. Depending on the number of hours you run your laser CNC machine, this might be something done every 1-2 years. During a clean and flush, the ball bearings are also inspected for wear. If the inspection of your laser cnc machine shows excessive “play” or wear, the ball bearing set may need to be replaced. It is not usually necessary to acquire a new ball screw assembly, as this type of repair corrects the cut issues and brings cut accuracy back within tolerance.

Laser CNC machine cut issues can be fixed.

If your laser is experiencing the jiggly-squigglies, contact us to see how we can help.