CNC Machine Retrofits

A CNC retrofit typically upgrades the CNC, axes servo motors and drives, spindle motor and drives, and a portion of the associated wiring and related electro-mechanical devices. Unlike rebuilding and remanufacturing, a CNC retrofit does not normally include any major repairs to the machines mechanics.

Today, two things can be said about the CNC retrofit market:

  1. Machines that were once too old to justify a CNC retrofit now make excellent candidates.

  2. Machines that were once too new to justify a CNC retrofit also make excellent candidates.

In the case of the older machines, today's controls are more forgiving of ball screw error, backlash, way friction and other symptoms of mechanical wear. By compensating electronically for these errors, the right CNC alone may be enough to return a worn machine to like-new precision. Thus, the retrofit may not have to include costs for replacement bearings, ball screws, or gearing, or for scraping the ways or other mechanical service.

In the case of the newer machines, recent improvements in control technology can make a more recent or more specialized CNC far more productive for the machine than its standard control unit, even when that older control is still functioning well. The retrofit CNC may offer important capabilities the standard one does not, including:

  • High-feed rate, high-accuracy machining, particularly during contour milling. This can be the result of features including look-ahead, faster servo updates, and curve interpolation. It can also be the result of expanded program storage capacity or faster data transmission across a network.

  • The ability to run third-party PC software directly on the control, for functions like shop floor programming, or updating machining offsets based on trends in SPC data and RFID tooling data packages.

  • Data exchange with networked PCs. Fast, two-way data transfer not only enables the CNC to obtain a part program quickly from a remote source, but can also let a remote PC monitor and react to the machine's status.

Most of these benefits are products of increased computing power, which has expanded the choices available to OEM´s and End users by allowing CNCs to deliver more sophisticated and specialized functions.

Justifying a retrofit is similar to justifying any high-value investment. A return on investment will occur when a business spends money to increase revenue and decrease or avoid unnecessary costs.

CSR considers all of the potential revenue improvements from the extra capacity and through-put of the machine. In addition, the ease of maintenance, and availability of replacement parts of the Control system. Typical machine tools utilize 30% to 40% of their mechanical capabilities. Applying a modernized control solution can significantly improve this percentage.

In Summary retrofitting is typically a low-cost alternative to purchasing a new machine tool. It will improve MTBF (mean time between failures) and MTTR (Mean time to recovery), Energy efficiency, increase in speed and performance and many other significant advantages.