Runaway Machines?

20+ years ago when I lived near a friend’s shop I could make some bike parts on his ANILAM mill as well get involved with some automotive projects. Once in a blue moon with neither rhyme nor reason the machine would inexplicably slam to the end of its ‘Y’ travel. I guarantee once you saw it happen you’d never stand in line with the table of any operating machine again. This was not limited to one particular machine as we heard from someone working in a manufacturer’s shop with a number of CNC machines that every once in a while they’d see a similar runaway

I’m curious if that behavior has ever been seen in the machines featured on this site or is it a thing of the past, eliminated by better software?.

  1. These machines are significantly weaker. They don’t skip steps while milling, unless you are really pushing it too hard. But they can easily be stopped by an arm. Obviously, if the bit was the first thing you touched, you’d have a bad day. But it won’t fling a piece of wood like a table saw, or break a finger if you got it caught between the gantry and the edge.
  2. Don’t ever trust software. It is impossible to determine everything you can ask it to do, so even if the SW engineers were perfect (they aren’t) there would be undesirable outputs because of unexpected inputs.
  3. The weakest link is you (us). It is easy and possible to make mistakes in CAM. I can think of a couple ways the position or speeds could be off by an order of magnitude and the result is the machine trying its hardest to escape.

You can stay safe by keeping your hands and loose clothing away from the bit, and having the whole thing on a power strip you can turn off to kill power to everything. Never leave the machine running alone.

The machine is pretty forgiving though, because it will skip steps before destroying itself. The big unrecoverable mistakes will ruin the job you are working on, and if you’re not there, could start a fire.

Barry has a sign in his shop that says something like, “This machine has no brain, use yours”. It is good advice. Ultimately, you’re responsible for your safety.


Reminds of when BMW launched a new ‘7’ series in the early 2000s. Initial testing apparently wasn’t too thorough as most dealers wound up with a service bay dedicated to reprogramming the entire car which took several hours.

One thing I quickly learned was the machine does what you told it to do, not what you think you told it to do.

I wasn’t concerned so much about safety as I know all too well the machine is going to do what it does and no mere flesh is going to stop it. I was just curious why this happened in the past and no one ever seemed to have an explanation.


Always good to see the truth on display!

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There’s also this one, was a quote from one of Phil Broughton’s students.

If you don’t know who Phil is, he makes some of the best coffee in the US.


I’m in charge of the machine shop at work.
When I show someone how to use a piece of equipment I tell them that “This machine is hungry and it loves to eat people, DON’T FEED THE MACHINES” they chuckle for a second, then I show them my missing finger, then they get it.


I’m sorry… but you Yanks couldn’t make decent coffee if your life depended on it :wink:

You haven’t met my wife in the mornings… Our lives do depend on it. Although definitions of “decent” will vary. I grew up in New Orleans, so I am familiar with coffee and chicory (thank you, Union embargo), and dark roast coffee. My wife is from here in the Midwest, and is used to a milder roast coffee. I’ve survived on NYC street vendor coffee. Tastes vary…

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I was looking at used industrial gear, and came across this.
Imagine a machine that size running away…
If only I had a bigger shed.

I never knew the chicory had anything to do with an embargo but have been drinking coffee with chicory for many years. And when the urge strikes there’s a bar in Wilmington where I can have beignets with my coffee. Good Stuff! :+1:

[Officer Ziva David ]: You brew that in your room?

[Officer Ziva David ]: You know, it’s not even real coffee.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs : It’s coffee.

[Officer Ziva David ]: I read the label. Roasted chicory, whatever that is.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs : It’s a flower. It’s got a taproot like a dandelion. Dried and roasted, it makes for a cheap coffee substitute.

[Officer Ziva David ]: Well, that’s what you’re drinking. Cheap motel coffee substitute.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs : Does that smell like a cheap coffee substitute?

[Officer Ziva David ]: Well, you brew it in your room.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs : Well, yes, I did. With my own grind that I brought from home.

[Officer Ziva David ]: You bring your own coffee grind on investigations?

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs : Only on overnighters.

Chicory should be outlawed… Also the coffee in Bali is freaking strong. I don’t think they use filters, just grind it to powder and mix it in the hot water.

Nah, choice is a good thing!

And in the case of New Orleans coffee it’s not a substitute but an additive, makes good string coffee with no bitterness.

I tried Cafe du Monde’s coffee, not a fan. @Slite is right though, American coffee isn’t near as strong as European or Middle Eastern coffee. You can use Middle Eastern coffee as paint stripper.

Like I said, choice is a good thing, I feel the same way about Starbucks coffee. Met some folks at one once as a convenient place to start a motorcycle ride, tasted over-roasted to me. It’d be a really boring world if we all liked the same things.

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Yea, starbucks isn’t good.

Some would argue their success says otherwise. Personally, I’m more of a ‘to each his own, live and let live’ kinda guy.

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He’s not actually suggesting it be illegal.

I knew that, even before I was fully caffeinated. :upside_down_face:

But it may take more coffee to figure out why one pic of the Primo shows a vertical Y motor while the pic heading the shop page doesn’t. :scream:

The shakes they sell are what draws in the. Clients