Should You Repair or Replace a Machine Spindle?


When a spindle is damaged, the owner must decide whether to repair or replace it. Knowing which option to choose based on the spindle’s condition can help ensure less downtime and better budget usage.

Repairing vs. Replacing Spindles

When a spindle experiences a total breakdown and production is interrupted or halted as a result, you may be inclined to replace it. This option can be beneficial if there is a new spindle available for your machine or in the rare case when the spindle is damaged beyond repair. Keep in mind that a new spindle is often twice the cost, or more, of rebuilding your existing spindle.

That said, repairing a spindle and returning it to service can be faster than finding a replacement if your OEM does not have one in stock. Depending on the type of precision spindle and the manufacturer and distributor, it could possibly take weeks to source a replacement. In comparison, spindle repairs may take less time, depending on the availability of parts and the components that need replacement.

Additionally, repairing and rebuilding are just about always more cost-effective solutions to purchasing new spindles, as you only need to replace the damaged components, not the entire spindle.

Signs a Spindle Needs a Repair

A precision spindle will experience general wear over time. While you can conduct basic in-house testing to look for issues, such as calculating the remaining useful life for the spindle bearings, there are also common signs that can indicate a spindle needs repair:


  • Increased noise levels, chatter, and vibration noise: Machines rely on part equilibrium to function, and when parts start to wear down or malfunction, loud or unusual noises often result.
  • Spindle vibration due to worn bearings: Spindles should rotate smoothly during operation. Shaking or vibrating during use can indicate imbalanced tooling, excessive loading, low drawbar pull force, or general wear and tear.
  • Above typical spindle taper temperatures: High-speed spindle bearings are designed to operate at high temperatures. However, temperatures can quickly become too high when the bearing begins to break down.
  • Reduced accuracy due to increased runout: When runout value increases, it’s a sign of critical bearing wear.
  • Less drawbar retention force: Insufficient tool holding strength can impact spindle performance, causing damage to the spindle shaft in the long term.

Most of these issues can be fixed with a simple repair or rebuild process to restore a spindle to its previous functionality.

Reasons to Replace a Spindle

In certain circumstances, replacing a spindle is a better option than repairing it. Some common reasons for complete spindle replacement include:

The spindle underperforms, and a rebuild is insufficient.

The spindle has experienced irreparable damage.

The spindle requires a complete upgrade.

If a spindle is irreparable or replacement parts are no longer available, consider the potential benefits of reverse engineering the spindle to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications instead of investing in a brand-new machine.

Spindle Repair Services

Only damaged, worn, or ineffective components of a spindle are replaced during a repair. Poor part or repair quality can cause new issues, so ensure you work with a spindle repair company with extensive experience, expertise, and a repair and rebuild brand portfolio, including major OEMs. The typical repair process involves the following steps:

  • Inspection and evaluation: Technicians log the unit and conduct a basic assessment when a spindle arrives. They open a work order to keep track of all the work performed on the unit.
  • Disassembly and analysis: Technical staff disassemble the spindle and conduct a thorough evaluation, analyzing each component and detailing all necessary work.
  • Component cleaning: Technicians thoroughly clean each spindle component and note any further need for replacement or reconditioning of parts.
  • Part replacement or reconditioning: Experienced machinists replace or recondition any necessary parts.
  • Installation of new high-performance seals and bearings: Seals and bearings are common areas for wear and tear. Technicians replace these parts with OEM parts to ensure they function correctly.
  • Reassembly of the spindle unit: Once the individual components of a spindle are repaired, replaced, or reconditioned, technicians reassemble the unit for testing.
  • Testing and confirming performance: The spindle undergoes thorough testing to ensure precise and smooth operations before it’s returned to you.

Spindle Maintenance

Effective maintenance best practices are essential to ensure a spindle performs optimally for longer. Review the preventative maintenance plans and programs once the spindle has received the required repair or rebuild.

After a spindle is ready to return to operation, consider implementing predictive maintenance of machine tool systems or similar preventative maintenance programs to help avert future unexpected downtime.


Trust Setco as Your Chosen Spindle Repair Company

Deciding to repair or replace precision spindles depends on several factors. At Setco, we can help with our extensive experience repairing and servicing spindles for over 350 machine tool brands.

With a history spanning over 110 years, you can trust the world’s largest independent spindle rebuilder to take on your spindle repair and rebuild. At Setco, we build or rebuild over 14,500 spindles annually and offer expertise and engineering resources from our Setco and GTI Service Center locations throughout North America and Asia.

Contact our team of experts today to discuss our repair and rebuild services and options that meet your budget and production schedule.



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