CNC Safety

By: Ivan Irons

Just about any topic that is covered about working in a shop should start with safety.? Your safety and the safety of others should always be at the top of your mind.? CNC is no different then any other shop topic.? In fact, the highest levels of safety awareness should be maintained when using a CNC machine.

CNC machines don’t have a mind of their own.? A computer gives them a command and they execute it.? They don’t care if they are cutting steel, aluminum, wood or your hand.? They don’t differentiate between materials.? You need to be aware of this.

When you are learning CNC you should take it slow.? Do tests on a small scale, then watch and learn what happens.? For example, why don’t you let your machine “cut air" for a while when you first get it.? You don’t need to put it right to work cutting material.? Why not create a simple program, and let the machine cut the air instead of material.? Better yet, why even run the spindle during the test.

Every CNC machine has quirks that you need to learn.? Every CNC machine has a different working envelope.? Every CNC machine is just a little bit different then the rest of them.? It is in your best interest to learn your machine before you put it to work.

?Generally, with a CNC machine, we are machining something.? While machining, “chips" are being thrown off.? Sometimes at a very rapid speed.? Here is where safety glasses, face shields and material barriers come into play.? Use them!? The machine doesn’t know you are standing there.? In the words of every boxing ref before a matchFeature Articles, “protect yourself at all times!"

A few ideas to keep you safe in the shop:Always read the instruction manual before using your machineAlways follow manufacturers recommendationsAlways wear safety glassesWear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for your jobUse shields and barriers while machining when it is appropriateTest your machine before full productionPerform proper and routine maintenance on your machinesPerform checks on your machine for wear and damage

Always think safety!

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