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What Is a CNC Spindle and How Does It Work?

What Is a CNC Spindle and How Does It Work?

The precision with which computer numerical control technology operates takes tools out of our hands. In place of our hand is the spindle, a remarkable piece of technology that allows a cutting tool to perform with unmatched intricacy on a variety of materials. If you’re new to the world of CNC, figuring out all the parts and terminology can be daunting. What is a CNC spindle and how does it work? We’ll answer those questions in this guide.

What It Is: Parts of a Spindle

The spindle is the workhorse of any CNC rig. It’s composed of a shaft, a motor, and a taper. The taper is the end of the spindle which grips the cutting tool—think of this as the fingers that would grip a handheld tool. The shaft is the body of the spindle, which contains the other two key components. This leaves us with the motor, which powers the high-speed rotation that gives the spindle’s chosen cutting tool its power.

How It Works: Finding the Right Motor

A CNC mill uses movement along all three axes to cut or shape the material. The spindle moves up and down the z-axis, or the third dimension, while the rest of the CNC machine controls vertical or horizontal movement. As the spindle takes controls from the computer, its motor puts the tool into motion, which, with thousands of revolutions per minute, takes on incredible cutting power. Spindles can take different types of DC motors depending on the job. CNC hobbyists often opt for stepper motors, which are simple DC motors that operate at high speeds, but not high enough for professional-grade tasks. At higher levels, CNC mills and lathes instead rely on servo motors, which have more sophisticated controls and achieve higher speeds. With the addition of gearboxes, servo motors also attain high levels of torque, which give the spindle the strength to cut strong materials such as steel.

What To Do When a Spindle Fails

Now that you know what a CNC spindle is and how it works, you may also wonder what to do when it stops working. Your CNC unit is out of commission without a functioning spindle, and you may not have the tools or the expertise to get it back in order. CNC Service Company specializes in CNC spindle drive repair. We can get these important parts of CNC technology working again after high-level performance takes its toll on moving parts. Visit us today and keep us in mind for your repair needs.

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