Computer numerical control (CNC) machining involves the use of technical equipment to automatically process materials into products, parts or prototypes. It is a form of subtractive manufacturing and has become a popular method for manufacturing precision parts used in aerospace, automotive, power and other technical industries.
The materials used are usually metal, wood, plastic and composite materials, which can be processed by CNC tools, such as knives, drills, lathes, presses and wire-cut electric discharge machines (EDM).
CNC machinists are the most needed work area. CNC machine tool programming is carried out on advanced 5-axis machine tools, integrating three-dimensional thinking with large-scale parts manufacturing. CNC machinists can operate on the one hand and solve problems on the other. It is a creative solution, which is vital to today’s manufacturing industry and will be vital in the foreseeable future. By 2026, the demand for this position will increase by 16%.
This article will briefly outline the important role of CNC machinists and the skills needed to perform well at work.
The main tasks of CNC machinists are:
- Interpret technical drawings and data
- Program the code of CNC machine tool according to the data or set up automation software to generate code
- Sequence the machiningtasks in the correct order
- Select and check the appropriate machine tool
- Set machine parameters, such as cutting speed and allowable tolerances
- Operate CNC computer and machine tool
- Check the quality of finished products according to industry standards
- Eliminate any failure of the final product
- Calibration and maintenance equipment
5 skills needed to become a CNC machining expert
1. Pay Attention To Details
CNC operators need to follow and interpret the 2D engineering drawings so that they can visually see the appearance of the 3D project to help them determine the processing sequence. In addition, designers and engineers usually provide written instructions, and operators must strictly follow these instructions. The operator must be able to identify and prioritize the important features of the design and ensure careful processing.
A good operator may be proficient in the details and make sure everything is set up correctly and accurately.
2. IT And Math Skills
CAD and CAM are the power tools of choice in this field. This list of skills attempts to assess how many of the most popular software packages you know, and some basic skills related to reading drawings and CAD models. This is very important. Software and tools will be updated regularly, so operators need to update their knowledge regularly. They also need mathematical skills to understand and check dimensions, list materials, set design parameters in the software and check tolerances, etc.
You need to know AutoCAD or Solidworks in the CAD department, preferably at least both. They are only used frequently, and it is difficult to do without this skill. If you must choose a CAM software package, please learn Mastercam. Having a good mathematical foundation is really important to becoming a machine programmer.
3. Practical Skills
As a CNC operator, you’d better be able to set up jobs, make parts using g-code programs, set up jobs and tool length offsets, deburr, inspect parts, and prove the program to ensure it will not crash and damage the machine or tool , Operate multiple machines at a time, and set tool wear compensation as needed.
If you want to be better than the average CNC operator, then you also need to be able to safely operate the bridge crane, handle the g-code for drip irrigation to the machine, handle the handleability of parts, and know how to handle the workshop. Tool vending machine, maybe have some experience with vacuum fixture.
4. Solve The Problem
All technical equipment sometimes goes wrong. CNC operators will inevitably face this problem and other problems that need to be resolved, such as inconsistent design drawings, final product out of tolerance, material problems, etc. When these problems occur, the operator needs to adopt a solvable attitude and try to correct the problem.
5. Desire To Be An Expert
The desire to become a CNC machining expert combines all the skills mentioned above. CNC machining is a high-tech technology that requires a combination of skills and engineering knowledge. With the rapid development of technology, excellent operators must be willing to continuously learn and update knowledge.
Companies such as Autodesk are constantly innovating software solutions to integrate CNC processes that need to be mastered. New equipment and more advanced machine tools also require operators to stay close to technology.
The Future Of CNC Machine Operations
It is easy to assume that as technology advances and automation and artificial intelligence take over, the operation of CNC machine tools will require fewer and fewer skills. This is not necessarily true. As software and equipment become more technical, more sophisticated operators will be required, especially to correct problems and perform maintenance tasks.
With the integration of processes and the smoother workflow between design and final manufacturing, operators will be expected to be competent at every stage of the production process, not just the computer and machine operation stages.
What is needed to become a CNC programmer today? Need to combine STEM and STEAM: You need science, technology, engineering and mathematical knowledge.