Equipment and ToolingMachining

Keeping machines and operators cool and clean

Keeping Machines Cool_Royal_Haas FM photo_opt

Floor Dry is piled around the base of the machines. Oil drips from the ceiling. Grinding dust collects in your coffee cup. A face full of mist greets you every time you open the machine door. This is the environment in which I learned machining 30 years ago. Back then, new machines were simply set on the floor, plugged in and given a quick leveling. Machine foundations were rare and temperature control was at the whim of whoever operated the loading dock door.

Shops today are more aware of environmental conditions. Mist collectors and electrostatic air cleaners are not uncommon and many manufacturers realize there’s little chance of attracting high-caliber work from customers when the shop is a pigsty. Many also recognize that proper environmental controls and a good machine foundation are important to accuracy—that holding a few tenths tolerance or imparting a mirror finish is all but impossible if the floor shakes like Elvis Presley every time the Union Pacific rumbles past.

But the sad truth remains that there are still too many shops ignoring air quality, temperature and machine isolation. This is bad for machines, their operators, part quality and, ultimately, the bottom line.

Let’s start with air quality. Royal Products, Hauppauge, N.Y., has sold the Filtermist product for more than 30 years, yet Tom Sheridan, vice president of marketing, estimates fewer than 25 percent of machine tools have a mist containment system. “We’re still amazed at the number of people who approach us at trade shows who had no idea there are products available to take care of the mist and smoke generated by machine tools,” he said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is partly to blame. The same people who mandate steel-toed boots and ear protection apparently don’t get too excited about shop air quality. “OSHA offers a guideline of 5 mg of particulate matter per cubic meter of air, but there are no actual regulations,” Sheridan said.

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