CNC Heat Issues: Vacuum Pumps and Electronics

Yes, CNC vacuums throw off heat, and yes, CNC electronics do better if kept cool. May 28, 2010

I don't know a thing about CNCs, but our shop is getting one and I will probably never touch it. This machine has two gigantic vacuum pumps, I guess to hold the wood down. Do these pumps (in general) put off any heat when they run? Our shop gets crappy hot in the summer. The person that claims to know about them says no. Additionally (in general), do on-board computers need to be kept cool to operate, or can they take the heat? 100 degrees or just a bit better plus high humidity.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor D:
The exhaust from my vac pump can reach 180 degrees, so yes, they do produce heat. I vent mine outside during the summer. My control cabinet has its own AC unit so the computer hardware stays cool. Computers love cool air.

From contributor M:
Vacuum pumps produce both noise and heat. We put ours in the compressor room so that the pump is away from the sawdust and the employees. The heat and oil is vented out of the compressor room. The control cabinet has its own air conditioner to keep it cool, but the PC component (operator interface) is not cooled. We have had zero heat problems in the 6 years we've owned it. We are in the central Midwest where summer temps are normally 85-95.

From contributor A:
If your cabinet is not air conditioned, there are a couple of ways to enhance it. Electronics problems we had were mostly due to the fine dust that you can't see getting into magnetic relays via static electricity. There are positive pressure components you can install that require a perfect sealing of your cabinet and are somewhat costly, or one simple upgrade is to throw out the factory air filters and fit in those home filters made for filtering out very small particles for allergy sufferers.

We have had one Bendix pump needing a rebuild after about three years. Now I keep them well greased, cleaned, and turn them off every chance I get (they used to just run all day when the machines were powered up in the morning).

If you look at these machines with common sense like any other tool in the shop, instead of the typical fear and dealer-on-speed-dial attitude I've seen in many places, they can be extremely helpful, not just in productivity, but in expanding your horizons and thought processes. I embraced CNC from the start and encourage you to as well. In the early days there were some extremely fast and accurate Vietnamese bandsawyers in our shop that snickered when they could beat me making casing on the CNC. Now I can begin cutting perfect parts almost before they walk across the shop to the bandsaws.

From contributor H:
I would not purchase a CNC machine that didn't have an air conditioner cooled electronics cabinet.