CNC Machinist Training Near Houston, Texas

CNC Machinist Training Near Houston, TexasFor you to get a job as a CNC Machinist, you will need to have some training and/or experience in the industry. While there are no specific requirements that each state has for Machinists, certain cities have a much higher demand for them, and Houston is one of, if not the, biggest one.

For the most part, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Be able to read and understand English
  • Have basic machining skills and knowledge
  • Be able to pass a background and/or drug test
  • Have your own tools (varies per company)

In order to meet these requirements you have to get some experience or training, and the easiest way to do that is by going to school for CNC Machining. Depending on the school and what degree you want to graduate with, it can take two semesters, nine months, or 2+ years for the highest degree.

Below are colleges/tech schools that have a CNC classes and/or a Machining program:

UTA – University Texas Arlington

While the U of Arlington doesn’t have a full-on machining course, they offer multiple programming, blueprint, and shop math classes. Unfortunately, there are no machines available to practice on. This would be a good place to go if you already have basic machining experience and want to learn CNC programming.

Fort Worth ISD Adult Education Center

The Adult EDU center in Fort Worth has a small machine shop with manual machines, along with basic machining classes to go with. However, the classes are geared towards people that have at least a few months of experience/training in machining already. Fort Worth has CAD/CAM, CNC programming, and 3D programming classes, as well as Blueprint reading and shop math. The equipment isn’t as high tech as a full on Machining course at a Tech school, but it may be worth it to take some classes here to get some knowledge on these.

MT Training Center

MT Training center is a vocational school that has a complete CNC Machining program for anyone that has graduated high school. It covers almost everything from the basics to CNC programming and machine set-up.

Texas State University

TSU doesn’t have a specific CNC Machinist program, but it does have a Manufacturing Engineer degree with CNC classes. The school has a couple of CNC machines that students can practice on after learning how to use CAD/CAM software, as well as manual programming. It may not be a full-on machining course like a tech school, but it’s a good place to go for programming and machine set-up since they have quality equipment/software.

Tarleton State University

Much like Texas State U, Tarleton State offers various classes for CNC machining and programming. There’s several mills and lathes to practice set-ups and run parts on after learning how to program. There’s some machining 101 classes here, but you may want to have a little experience before committing to this school.

Texas State Technical College

Texas State Tech has a few different courses for Manufacturing. There’s a couple 18 month-long associate degree programs for manufacturing, and a CNC-based program is 12 months. They have all of the necessary classes, starting with basic machining, blueprint reading, shop map, as well as CNC programming, and CAD/CAM classes. There’s a CNC shop with computers and machines to learn on. If you’re looking to go to school for machining, this is a good place to get your career started.

Going to school is one of the easiest ways to get started in a new career, especially for Machinists since you can be done in two years or less. Plus the fact that most programs cost much less than going to a regular four-year school. It’s never too late to get started, whether you’re 25 or 45. You can complete an entire program from start to finish, or just take some night classes to boost your knowledge and move up in your workplace.

References:

CNC Concepts

Manual CNC Programming – Pros & Cons

Manual programming for a CNC mill or lathe has been the most common way to program over the years that CNC machines have been used. Manual programming is done either by hand and transferred to a computer file, or punched in by hand on the machine controller.

Pros

Lets look at the good stuff first… Manual programming is limitless when it comes to developing a part program. You can set and adjust every fine detail to your exact touch, whether it’s tweaking feeds and speeds, changing cycle parameters, or using different cycles.

Another big advantage is that manual programming teaches strong discipline. The machinist writing and/or editing a program must grasp the skill and techniques of CNC programming to be proficient. Every number, every letter, every decimal, must all be to perfection for the program to run smoothly. In addition, being able to do all of your programming gives you an edge over the competition when it comes to looking for a job.

A bonus if you’re going be programming on a CAM/CAD system, is that you will be able to understand what exactly is going on and why. Programming software can get pretty complex these days, and it’s your job to know every little detail on how the part is being programmed.

Cons

Manual programming definitely has its disadvantages. The time it takes to make a complete program is probably the biggest downfall. Compared to making a program/toolpaths on a CAM system, hand writing can take considerably longer, depending on the machinist. Not to mention the time it takes to run the program out and make sure everything works.Manual CNC Programming - Pros & Cons

Another important disadvantage would be the number of errors in the program. When you’re writing a program by hand or punching it in the controller, it’s very easy to make a mistake. All it takes is on wrong number, letter, is a misplaced decimal.

Other areas that make manual programming inferior include: not being able to see your toolpaths, as well as the complication of needing to edit a program and more.

While there are some huge downfalls to manually writing a CNC program, having the ability to manual edit a program is still extremely important in this industry. Just like giving a kid a blow torch; not knowing the basics before using high-tech software is a bad idea.

Mini Desktop CNC Mill – Pros & Cons

CNC mills have progressed so far these days that you can have your own milling machine that can sit on desk or benchtop; hence the name ‘desktop cnc mill’. Depending on how much you want to spend, you could have a set-up for the price of a new computer.

If you are willing to dedicate a good amount of time to learn how to program and use software, having a desktop cnc machine can be a great asset, whether you’re looking to make your own parts/tools as a hobby, or actually turn it into a small business.

So, lets look at the what makes a benchtop CNC Mill an advantage over a full size machine, as well as how they are at a disadvantage…

Pros

Cost

Compared to the price of a new 100,000 dollar milling machine, you can get a mini CNC mill for a small fraction of that. How much do they actually cost? I can’t really give you a good estimate because there’s so many options available. You could buy a basic kit that’s complete for less than a thousand bucks, or you could be a bigger and better machine that’s fully enclosed with more bells and whistles for a few grand.

Fully Enclosed Desktop CNC Mill
Fully Enclosed Desktop CNC Mill

Technology

For the price of a desktop mill, you get a lot of technology, especially if the package comes with a good CAM/CAD software. In the past, you’d have to buy a big manual mill or lathe and convert to a 240 set-up for electricity in the garage/shop. They are not enclosed, so after machining a part you’ll have a big mess to clean up, whereas a desktop CNC can be enclosed so you have little to no cleanup afterwards.

Size

A big advantage of a desktop mill is how small they are, hence the name “desktop” or “benchtop CNC”. Instead of requiring a large garage or pole building to set up a milling center, you can put one of these in your house!

Cons

A desktop CNC mill may be able to machine parts just like a full-size milling center, but there are some pretty big disadvantages. This may or may not affect you, though, depending how what kind of machining work you plan on doing.

Mini Desktop CNC Mill
Mini Desktop CNC Mill

Size

The size of these machines can be a good thing, but it can also be a downside depending on how large the parts are that you are going to make. If you want to make motorcycle rims, a desktop machine just isn’t going to cut it. Not only is the machine itself too small, but you may run into rigidity/machine capabilities if you are removing large quantities of material, which brings us to its next downfall…

Capability Woes

Unfortunately you won’t be able to hog out stainless or hard still parts on most of these mini mills due to the fact that they are not nearly as rigid as a full size machining center. A lot of them are only built to machine plastics, wood, and soft metals such as aluminum. If the metal is too hard, it will cause a lot of spindle/tool vibration, causing poor finishes. It may also end up breaking your tools because the machine cannot handle the extra tool pressure.