Providing regular maintenance on your wide belt sander can help mitigate small problems from turning into larger ones. These issues can often cause a halt to production and lead to costly delays. Preventative maintenance should always start with a thorough inspection of the sander before sanding your material. Keeping a keen eye out for dust build-up, drum deformities, and general wear and tear on the conveyor and abrasive belts. Undertaking an inspection after each sander use will also help prolong the sander’s life and give you the best results.
Dust: a serious impact on production
Dust and particle build-up can lead to streaking lines on your material, impacting your production and resulting in costly damaged or ruined products. Streaking lines on your wood tend to look like stitches, oscillating and narrow. This is a tell-tale sign of small spots on the belt clogged with glue, resin, and dust. And this is one reason why it is crucial to blow out the interior of the sander.
- Remove the sanding belt before cleaning the machine interior.
- Mount the abrasive belts into position on the sanding heads after the blowout.
After each use of the sander, inspecting the newly sanded material looking for oscillating shiny or snake lines will give you a clue if debris is on the contract drum or abrasive belts.
If you run your sander in production of more than ten hours per week, we recommend adding an air jet belt cleaner. The air jet belt will help remove any dust build-up on your abrasive, leading to sanding imperfections. As the abrasives travel over the idle drum, it opens and hits a blast of air that cleans it. In addition to improved sanding results, air-jet belt cleaner can prolong the life of your belt as it will run cooler. This alone will save you money in the long run.
Streaking lines or chatter on your material can add additional passes to your sanding process, or worse. It can sometimes cause irreparable damage. The effect can also materialize in a blotchy or darker area during the staining process. Inspecting the air jet nozzles and clearing any debris that may clog the air jets will allow effective production.
Another air-related issue stems from poor dust extraction, which will cause dust build-up in the machine, leading to many defects. Letting dust and particulate matter build up in the sander is the fastest way to have sanding defects appear on your finished product. Proper dust collection is critical to quality sanding results and machine longevity.
Proper maintenance and ideal operation
Using a sander with a platen is a great way to smooth out any groove lines between grits. The platen is to be used to lightly kiss material instead of a sanding head. Typically, a platen is made with cloth and graphite. Regularly inspect the platen to ensure nothing is lodged between the graphite and the material. Debris as small as a hair trapped between the platen and the panel can lead to lines showing in a finished product. Platens may have worn spots where the graphite has rubbed off.
Drum maintenance: when defect-free is a must
It is crucial to inspect your contact drums daily and between belt changes to ensure no dust build-up and that they are free of defects. When you remove the belt, be sure to blow off the drum with compressed air. Particles can build up between the roll and sandpaper, leading to sanding imperfections. In addition, make a visual check on the drum to ensure there are no score marks or damage to the drum. If you notice score marks on the drum, you may need to resurface it or replace it altogether. If the grooves are not too deep on a rubber drum, you can resurface it right in the machine. Another article on this topic will be coming soon!
Conveyor belt: a consistent reference is key
Evenly spacing material across the entire width and not just in a few select spots will allow for even wear of the conveyor belt. Putting panels on the same areas of the conveyor belt will lead to an uneven belt with different ware patterns causing the material to be sanded unevenly. You can check the wear pattern of the conveyor belt by placing two identical pieces of wood on the right and left sides of the conveyor belt and running it concurrently. If you run the material with an 80-grit sanding belt and measure each side, you will see different measurements. If you have uneven wear or a defect in your conveyor, you may also be able to resurface this right inside the machine. Again, this is a procedure best done by service professionals, but it can be done safely with care following specific instructions.
Taking good care means better production
Taking steps to ensure your wide belt sander is in good working order saves time and money and prevents damaged and inferior products. Creating a checklist of what should be inspected before and after running the sander will assist you in developing efficient working habits and mitigating minor problems turning into larger ones. Regular preventative maintenance will give you the confidence to produce products with excellent results consistently.