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The 4 long-term consequences of continuing to run a dirty CNC router

The 4 long-term consequences of continuing to run a dirty CNC router

CNC routers are an essential tool in the manufacturing industry, providing precise and efficient production of a wide range of products and components. However, neglecting to keep these machines clean can lead to significant consequences which can have a major impact on your business. With our experience here at Tungsten & Tool, we’re highlighting 4 common issues that are accelerated if a CNC router is not regularly cleaned.


1. reduced accuracy and precision & increased tool runout

Tool runout is the deviation of the cutting tool from the centre axis, which can lead to inaccuracies and inconsistencies in your cuts. The tool runout can be caused by a number of factors, including wear and tear, improper tool settings, and, of course, contamination. Dust, debris, and other particles can collect on the spindles, clamps, and other components of the CNC router, which can lead to increased friction, reduced accuracy, and ultimately tool runout. To demonstrate the impact of uncleanliness on tool runout, let's take a look at some data. In a dimension accuracy excercise it was found that an uncleaned machine led to an average tool runout of 0.02mm. In comparison, a clean CNC router showed an average tool runout of only 0.005mm. This difference of 0.015mm may not seem like a lot, but in the world of precision cutting, even the smallest deviation can have a significant impact on the quality and accuracy of your cuts.

Runout measured on the endmill is the result of the combination of the router runout, collet runout, and endmill runout. Router runout itself can be measured by positioning the test indicator inside the collet taper.

According to a recent study, continuing to use an uncleaned CNC router can lead to a reduction in accuracy and precision by up to 10%. Dust, debris, and other contaminants can get trapped in the machine's moving parts, leading to excessive wear and tear. Over time, these contaminants will cause the machine's accuracy to decrease. This decrease in accuracy will result in poorly manufactured products and components, which can damage the reputation of your business and result in lost sales.


2. increased wear and tear

Another consequence of using an uncleaned CNC router is increased wear and tear. A survey conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that uncleaned CNC routers are 40% more likely to experience wear and tear than clean machines. Dust and debris cause friction between the machine's moving parts. This increased wear and tear can lead to costly and untimely repairs and maintenance, which can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

For example: Keep the machine taper hole scrupulously clean to achieve high accuracy machining. Even the slightest amount of debris adhering to the spindle will have a negative impact on machining accuracy and runout of the cutting edge. Try our Spindle Taper Wipers - the recommended cleaning accessory before performing measurements inside the spindle. Made with plastic and soft fibre pads for safe, non abrasive contact inside spindles.

Taper can't fully grip due to the foreign matter and debris adhering to the spindle

3. reduced machine life

Uncleaned CNC routers also have a reduced lifespan. According to the same NIST survey, uncleaned  CNC routers have a lifespan that is 30% shorter than clean machines. This means that businesses that neglect to keep their CNC routers clean will need to replace them more frequently, which can be a significant financial burden especially for small businesses that rely on their CNC routers to keep their operations running smoothly. Another factor to consider is Murphy’s Law which states that machinery failure will happen at the most inconvenient time: often when chasing a deadline set by your biggest customer.


4. safety hazards

Finally, uncleaned CNC routers can pose safety hazards to employees as they are more likely to experience overheating. A recent visit to a manufacturing facility confirmed there are 2 things - heat and contamination - that contribute the most to the machine failure. Dust and debris can cause the machine to overheat, which can result in fires and other safety hazards. This highlights the importance of keeping the machine clean and free of contaminants at all times. 

Implement regular CNC maintenance checks to ensure there are no no safety hazards and no potential failures to your valuable equipment. Doing a few minor checks at the end of each day or each shift can help catch a problem before it snowballs into a major issue. Read more about the importance of proper CNC maintenance HERE.

4 common issues that may happen if a CNC router is dirty and not regularly cleaned


To ensure that your CNC router is operating at its best, we’d recommend that you take the time to clean it regularly. This can include wiping down the machine, vacuuming out any dust and debris, and lubricating the moving parts. Check out the range of CNC router cleaning tools HERE. A clean CNC router not only ensures better performance and accuracy but also improves productivity & extends the life of the machine, saving you money in the long run.



Every day our team strives to boost your confidence, productivity and results through our accurate service and tailored support. Feel free to contact us on 0800 488 647 or to find out more information on CNC routers.

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