You’re considering a career as a CNC machinist or you are already in the industry but you want to move up; in any case, the best qualities of a professional CNC machinist are what you seek to attain and acquire. After all, you’re already a perfectionist. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be responsible for producing extremely tight tolerance results. CNC machines are as varied as the people who operate and maintain them, so the real question is what makes a quality CNC professional? A professional machinist comprehends the complexities of CNC machining and embraces those complexities with a passion.
Top 3 Skills for machinists to have
Starting at the top of the order, let’s examine what a good CNC machinist should already have under their belt before moving ahead. Overall, there are three areas where a professional will excel when it comes to CNC operations:
- Mechanical – More than just a cursory understanding of measurements and angles, truly comprehending what is happening with a CNC machine is a fundamental skill for any CNC machinist, regardless of whether they control a CNC lathe or mill or even a 3-axis or 6-axis CNC machine.
- Analytical – If you’re going to make it as a professional you’ll have to have the ability to fully comprehend the objective, the method, and the machine that will achieve the goal. Straight lines, perfect curves, and completed workpieces that meet specifications don’t happen on their own; it takes human interaction to support the process.
- Problem-solving – Guess what? It won’t work. Maybe on the first or second try, it might fly, but chances are it will take some time and experimentation to get it right. Getting from Point A to Point B takes the ability to see the process and resolve any flaws that prevent success.
Being present while machining
Focus is important when it comes to professional CNC operations. You can’t be daydreaming or wandering around looking for more creamer for your coffee. You’ve got to be there, in the now, watching, listening, and understanding what is happening so if anything goes wrong, you can make the appropriate corrections and continue. It doesn’t matter if your CNC machine is on a production floor or in a home shop, your presence and manipulation are always a requirement. Satisfaction, to a true professional, is perfect output, and nothing less will do. That means being engaged throughout the process, no matter how long it takes.
Basic prerequisites for a CNC machinist are pretty straightforward. A high school diploma is a good start, along with a couple of years of shop experience working with or around CNC equipment. Of course, understanding and/or experience with CAD/CAM software or Design/Build applications is a bonus. Any background in computer programming or application integration is a real game-changer as well. The idea is that more time spent in production environments utilizing machinery like CNC equipment is going to go a long way toward determining your compatibility, comprehension, and capability toward becoming a professional CNC machinist.