This week, as I bore the responsibility of preparing a PCNC 1100 for an upcoming trade show, I made the realization of how much I dislike cleaning. Making chips is fantastic entertainment, but picking up those chips makes me cringe.
While I’m sure many agree with my distaste for cleaning, it can’t be denied that keeping your machine tidy is vital for many reasons.
Maintenance is a key reason to keep your machine clear of chips from previous projects. As the machine moves on the X, Y, and Z axes, the bellows (covering vital mechanical elements of your machine) expand and contract. If chips are lodged into the many shifting crevices of these guards, they can wear quicker. If chips start slipping through holes in the bellows, they become a catalyst for worn out mechanical components.
Another advantage to keeping chips from piling up is precision. Having chips stuck in the table ways or wedged between vise mechanisms can affect precision. Components may be squared up, but if things are resting on chips (or even a single chip) they can shift and throw everything off on your part.
Lastly, chips can be sharp, especially the tiny ones. If every tightening of a vise or touch of the table is accompanied with a microscopic metal sliver, it can make for a painful project.