Video: OOPS! When CNC Machining Goes Bad

In operation, CNC machines–regardless of their specific function–are awe-inspiring. It’s like an industrial ballet of tools and workpieces dancing around one another in a highly-choreographed composition that borders on manufacturing magic. Really, that is exactly what CNC machining is… until it isn’t.

When it works, it’s beautiful. When it doesn’t, it’s absolutely cringe-worthy. While some of the fails above make you laugh, as the machines seemingly take on a life of their own, taking a wrong turn in the blink of an eye, some will have you putting your hand over your eyes and biting your lip, and even yelling at the screen, as the operator misses all the signs of impending failure.

Some are due to poor programming or bad speeds and feeds, some are due to poor fixturing, and some are due to tool failure, but in all of the cases the machines did exactly what they were programmed to do, proving that CNC machining isn’t just a magic box that spits out perfect parts with no human input; it’s quite the opposite. You need a programmer who is both a machinist and fluent in a second language (G-code), and an operator who can understand what the machine, tool, and part is telling you as it’s being machined.

Of course, in a perfect world, we’d never have these videos, because everything would work right the first time, and every subsequent time. The world isn’t perfect, though, and we might as well enjoy watching the destruction that ensues when someone has entered the wrong number, put the decimal in the wrong spot, zeroed the tools incorrectly, or just flat out not tightened a tool or part enough in its fixture. As awesome as CNC machines are, and as long as humans are involved in the process, we’ll continue to have videos like this to laugh at, cry with, and cringe over.

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent over a decade in automotive publishing as Senior Editor of Race Pages magazine. In his free time, he is a firearms instructor and volunteer in the police armory.
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