Computer numerical control or “CNC” machines have only increased in popularity since their introduction in 1989. And it’s no secret as to why. Using computer algorithms and settings for automated control, CNC machines make high-precision manufacturing much easier and with less room for error. But that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect. Like all kinds of machinery, CNC machines call for maintenance from time to time. That said, the most common causes for complaint typically stem from a rather simple solution. It all comes down to the power source. CNC is easy — it’s harnessing the right power that can be a challenge.

Understanding Power Sensitivity

Because they are automated by computers, CNC machines are highly sensitive to their power source. Sure, the vast majority of CNC machines have built-in surge protection, but it really comes down to the power itself. Weak signals and transient power surges (subtle changes in fundamental power frequency) are bound to cause problems, which may seem inexplicable if the power never seems to actually go out. Regular surge protectors are often unable to protect against these, as the CNC machine’s high sensitivity makes it think that there are noticeable gaps in power, when in actuality there may not be.

For a visual, consider the sine wave. This continuous, even flowing wave is exactly the kind of power source signal frequency needed by CNC machines in order to function properly. Small interruptions like transient power surges can cause fast changes in the signal and confuse the system.

What’s the Solution?

It’s great that most CNC machines come with at least some level of built-in surge protection. But since these machines are complex and rely on far more signal sensitivity than the average device, the fact is that regular surge protection is simply not cutting it when it comes to power issues. So, one of the most obvious remedies to this problem therefore is updating the CNC machine’s built-in surge protection. Advanced surge protection for CNC machines is form of technology that is still developing, but there are certain systems already available.

That said, the kind of advanced surge protection needed is not common. It is important to look for an engineered transient disturbance filter, specially designed to navigate transient surges. More particularly, this is highly specific engineered signal filter that can recognize even the smallest signal frequency shifts (breaks in the sine wave). At the top of modern developments with this filter is the SineTamer cascade system. The SineTamer is designed to monitor all 360 degrees of sine wave power frequency to prevent false gap notifications.

Modern CNC Machines Need Advanced Surge Protection

While still not common, advanced engineered transient disturbance filter systems are already in place with various CNC machines around the world. For example, the SineTamer cascade system was recently installed on 70 machines in Africa by a CNC machine dealer there. The result? The amount of maintenance calls for the machines dropped by more than half! Likewise, CNC machine operators and dealers have reported positive results with the SineTamer cascade system in both Ecuador and Brazil.

While it may be a while before this kind of advanced surge protection technology becomes widespread, there’s still no time like the present to start implementing it. CNC machines already advanced companies’ productivity, so why not keep them running as efficiently as possible?