CMM Maintenance 101: Guide to Preventative CMM Maintenance

Published by CMMXYZ on August 10, 2021

After investing in your Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM), it’s important that you do everything possible to take proper care of this valuable piece of machinery. Preventative maintenance on a routine basis will ensure that it runs trouble-free throughout its lifespan.

CMMXYZ is North America’s leading metrology provider, specializing in quality repairs, calibrations, CMM programming, and training. For over 30 years, we have provided expert measurement solutions designed to ensure every CMM machine performs at its highest level.

Through our specialized technicians, we provide industry-leading preventative maintenance services to increase the productivity of your CMM. We use the latest equipment and software for full-service repairs and same-day CMM maintenance.

The Importance of Preventative CMM Maintenance 

The importance of CMM cleaning and maintenance cannot be overlooked. Maintenance is an essential factor in the quality and longevity of your coordinate measuring machine parts. Without adequate CMM maintenance, you run the risk of a damaged machine, hindering your overall operating costs.

CMM cleaning and maintenance should be applied to every major component of the machine, from the motors to the controller electronics, air bearings and probe system.

Optimal Performance 

CMM maintenance is as essential to your machine’s operation as calibrations and repairs. Taking the time to have your machine thoroughly inspected ensures each component can perform at its highest level, from the software to the bearings.


CMMs are only able to withstand hours of production when their components are routinely cleaned and maintained. Preventative CMM maintenance is essential to ensuring your machine is able to perform yearly without unscheduled damages and repairs.

Diminished Downtime 

When your machine is regularly inspected and thoroughly cleaned, its downtime is significantly reduced, allowing you to resume production with minimal interruptions. Preventative maintenance helps eliminate backlogs and simplifies any necessary repairs.

Increased Efficiency 

Preventative maintenance ensures your machine can perform its duties on the shop floor or quality lab with efficiency and accuracy. Increased efficiency is essential to maximizing the production capabilities on your shop floor and your profit margins.

Reduced Repair Costs 

The simplest way to ensure your machine avoids significant repair costs is through regular CMM cleaning procedures. When you engage in preventative CMM maintenance, your risk of unexpected repairs decreases, and your bottom line doesn’t suffer.

What Type of CMM Maintenance Can I Do Independently? 

Ensuring your CMM probe, joystick, controls, and bearings are adequately cleaned and maintained is essential to the machine’s ability to perform on your shop floor accurately and efficiently.

When it comes to preventative CMM maintenance, there are steps that can be taken independently and without professional technicians.

Air Bearings 

The air bearings are one of the most important parts of the machine that require CMM maintenance and protection. It’s recommended that the filters on the back of your CMM are routinely replaced as necessary. The frequency of scheduled CMM maintenance will depend entirely on the type of environment you are working in – i.e., whether it is a dusty or meticulously clean shop floor or lab.

Dust Removal 

Dust can clog the bearings and affect how the entire machine performs. When checking dust quality and cleaning a CMM, filters should be inspected once a month.

Any particles lying underneath or in-between visible surfaces may lead to inaccurate measurements and cause future damage to a workpiece. Dust particles and dirt on bearing ways can be cleaned with a lint-free microfiber cloth and alcohol. Removing dust when cleaning a CMM will help ensure your machine operates at its highest caliber and will save significant repair costs in the future.

Check Controller Filters 

Controller filters should be checked every six months and replaced if necessary. Without preventive maintenance, your CMM runs the risk of overheating which could result in a complete shutdown. CMM maintenance is designed to ensure your machine avoids any complications and can resume production swiftly and accurately.

When to Look For Professional CMM Maintenance 

Annual preventative maintenance is important but becomes an urgent necessity when a machine has malfunctioned, overheated, or failed to produce accurate measurements. The more frequently your CMM is maintained, the longer it should be able to perform on your shop floor or in your laboratory with minimal interruptions and repairs.

Professional CMM maintenance is essential to ensuring the longevity of the machine and reducing your overhead costs. A trusted metrology company will understand your operational needs and conduct the CMM maintenance and repairs needed to resume production.

At CMMXYZ, we conduct CMM cleaning procedures across North America to ensure production floors can maintain accuracy and efficiency. Our trained ISO certified metrologists will identify the problem areas of your machine and recommend the appropriate next steps.

Sensor Malfunctions 

The sensors inside your CMM are crucial to the machine’s performance abilities. Sensors impact a machine’s accuracy and speed and should be inspected during annual calibration when your service company does a preventative CMM maintenance check.

CMM sensors include the electronic touch trigger probe, the scanning probe, the single point laser, the line laser and the video camera. When routinely maintained by trained technicians, the accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency of your machine increase significantly.

Faulty Bearings 

Air bearings are crucial to the development of a CMM. Their stability and friction-less construction are essential to delivering precise measurements. When CMM maintenance is neglected, bearings can become damaged and negatively impact your machine’s ability to provide accurate data. It’s imperative that the condition of the bearings is regularly inspected and is best overseen by a professional metrology company.

Clogged Air Filters 

When the air filters in a CMM clog, there is a greater risk of damaged motors and machine malfunctions, resulting in high repair costs. Professional CMM maintenance is designed to prevent this from occurring by conducting thorough inspections of the air filters in your machine.

At CMMXYZ, our trained technicians will ensure adequate airflow is circulating in your machine so you can focus your time and energy on the measurement tasks at hand.

Unverified Encoder Gaps 

Unverified encoder gaps can lead to inconsistencies in information and produce inaccurate measurements. Professional CMM technicians will ensure the encoders in your machine can provide digital data accurately and efficiently.

Factors to Consider for CMM Maintenance 

To ensure your machine can collect measurement data with unwavering accuracy, CMM maintenance must be an essential aspect of your yearly CMM calibrations and repairs. There are several important factors to consider if you require professional CMM maintenance.

Where to Locate Your CMM 

Should the CMM machine be placed on the shop floor or enclosed in a lab? CMM maintenance costs will be higher if the machine is placed on the shop floor, but the convenience of that location will often be worth it.

Some machines are better suited to shop floor use than others. For instance, hard-bearing machines excel on the shop floor. Performing inspection on the shop floor is a growing trend, and provided the guidelines outlined below are followed, CMM maintenance costs will be minimized.

Air Supply 

Often, breakdowns and CMM maintenance costs are caused by poor air quality. A refrigerant air dryer is recommended on all air-bearing machines, regardless of the machine’s location.

In most factories, the coordinate measuring machine uses the shop air supply, and those lines run just under the plant ceiling. In the summer, condensation occurs within the airlines, and water permeates the CMM, damaging the bearings and short-circuits the electronics.

Maintenance professionals sometimes have a habit of putting oil in the air supply. This works well on machine tools but kills coordinate measuring machines. Moisture and oil in the airlines cause degeneration of the internal piping and blockage of the air bearings. It’s important to understand that collapsed bearings can cause significant damage to your CMM.

Electrical Supply, the Silent CMM Killer 

Show me a machine that has chronic electrical problems and, generally speaking, the issues can be traced to power supply issues. It's amazing how companies will spend many thousands of dollars on a new coordinate measuring machine, yet they will not invest in a power conditioner/battery backup system. It's not just the fluctuation of current that causes problems, but also noise transmitted through machine tools operating on the same circuit.

Remember, the coordinate measuring machine is not like a machine tool, and its controller is much more sensitive to the variability introduced by shop electricity.

Keep It Clean 

Cleaning is a significant issue governing the reliability of your coordinate measuring machine, and even more so with the machine that is not in the lab. The bearing ways on many of the new brands of CMMs are exposed; therefore, these ways must be wiped clean daily or, at the very least, weekly.

Small particles can easily get under the air bearings and score the ways. On most bridge machines, the slave leg runs on the surface plate or a beam, so it is a good idea to clean this area several times a day. Dirt and metal particles have a tendency to embed themselves under the bridge bearings, which causes precision issues and possibly motor drive problems later on.

When scales are exposed, it's also important to gently wipe them down with isopropyl or methyl hydrate, and we emphasize the word GENTLY!

Replace or Clean Those Air Filters 

Controller and computer filters should be checked weekly and replaced if necessary. In one particular experience, a loyal customer of ours who had three shop floor machines couldn't understand why all three machines had overheating controller problems and eventual shutdown.

Upon inspecting the controllers, our service crew found the air filters were clogged. We replaced the filters, and the controllers are now working fine. The customer now has the maintenance department check these filters weekly and replace them when required.

Software Maintenance 

The software of any CMM is essential to the machine’s ability to accurately measure geometric surfaces by providing real-time data and insight into the current measurement process. Through professional CMM software maintenance, our certified metrologists will assess every aspect of your software to ensure your machine is operating at its highest level.

Neglecting to Perform CMM Maintenance 

If preventative maintenance is not performed on a routine basis, you risk having bearing failure. When the bearings get clogged, your machine will require costly repairs. A CMM maintenance technician will be required to pull out and clean each individual bearing and airline. Hosing down the machine and flushing the lines might also be required in some circumstances.

By spending five to ten minutes per day on essential CMM maintenance, you can save time and money on future repairs and focus your energy on gathering quality measurements.

What to Look for in a CMM Maintenance Provider 

Your coordinate measuring machine is a delicate piece of equipment that relies on several components to provide accurate data. Preventative CMM maintenance is a crucial part of your machine’s ability to perform tasks at a high degree of efficiency and precision.

CMMXYZ is North America’s leading measurement services provider with over 30 years of experience and customer satisfaction. We provide quality CMM maintenance and same-day repair services to ensure you never lose momentum on the production floor.

Visual Inspection of Bearing Conditions 

Air bearings play a vital role in the functionality of your CMM. We’ll conduct a visual inspection of the bearings in your machine and determine if their conditions are safe enough to continue the measurements at hand.

A Check of All Filters 

Dust particles can hinder your machine’s ability to perform without overheating and damage additional aspects of the CMM. Our technicians will check every filter and ensure quality airflow is circulating within your machine.

Inspection of Drive Components 

We’ll provide a thorough inspection of your CMM drive components to ensure seamless power transmission and effective motion control capabilities.

Verification of Encoder Gaps 

Verifying CMM encoders ensures that the information and data your machine is recording are accurate. Our trained technicians include encoder verification in their CMM cleaning procedures to provide peace of mind and allow you to focus your attention on advancing production on the shop floor.

Work with CMMXYZ 

For over 30 years, CMMXYZ has been an industry-leading metrology company in North America with specialized CMM maintenance, repair, and training capabilities. We provide a spectrum of professional CMM repair services and preventative maintenance using the highest-quality equipment and knowledgeable technicians.

We offer a wide range of quality machines at our Mississauga location, where you can find either a new or used CMM for sale. Our trained metrologists can repair optical projectors and vision systems, including Brown & Sharpe, Sheffield, Leitz, DEA, Starrett, Wenzel, Mitutoyo, LK, Metris, Zeiss, Tarus, Trimek, Poli, OGP, and calibrate ROMER & Faro arms.

Contact CMMXYZ today to learn more about our trusted metrology services.

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