Category Archives: Training

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

Do CNC Machinists Need To Go To School?

So you’ve decided that you want to be a full-time Machinist for a career, but you’re not sure if you can find a job without going to school… If you haven’t already, check out my article on CNC machinist training.

While many career’s start right after or during college these days, there are a lot of jobs that don’t necessarily require schooling. Years ago you could start out as a shop helper during weeknights while going to high school, but now it seems like you need take at least two years of post-secondary education to get any ‘real job’.

To answer the question plainly, no, you don’t NEED to go to school to be a full-time cnc machinist. There’s plenty of machinists that didn’t go to school and are doing well. In fact, there’s some guys that never took anything past high and ended up owning their own machine shop.

With that said, it may be hard to find a job in the manufacturing industry with little to no experience. In this case, the old saying, “It pays to know” couldn’t be more true. If you have a friend or a friend of a parent works in a local machine shop, ask them if there are any openings at that shop. If they don’t, that friend will usually suggest another shop or be on the lookout if they know you well enough.Do CNC Machinists Need To Go To School

Going to your local Tech school for Machining classes will definitely give you a head start, or an accelerated start if you just graduated from high school and already work in a manufacturing shop. You will be able learn all of your basic machining 101 knowledge, and then work your way up from there until you can program and make your own parts.

There’s shops out there that will start from scratch if they find a young and motivated worker, but the learning process will usually be more gradual over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, those can be hard to come by, and the wages probably won’t be enough to live off of.

One of the biggest problems is that most companies want someone with several years of machining experience, and don’t want to spend their time trying to train someone in, hoping that they will weed out the ill-performing machinists. While they may work some of the time, there’s no real way to tell how good of a machinist someone is until you give them work to do. You can take someone with 1-2 years of schooling and a year of on the job experience, and they might do better than another machinist that has been in the industry for 10+ years.

In the end, it’s up to YOU to decide what to do. The smartest route would be starting right off the bat when you graduate high school and going to a Tech school for machining, and possibly finding a small shop to work for at the same time. However, not everyone is young enough to do that. For those that are older and need a steady full-time job, there are people that take machining classes during the day, and go do to work at night. It can be gruesome, but if you work hard at it and really think that you want to pursue this great career, I encourage you to put the hammer down and quit slacking off!

Good luck!

CNC Machinist Training Course Curriculum Classes

If you’re looking to go to school for machine trades and want to know what the general course curriculum is, you’re in the right place. While not every school is the same, this will be a good break-down of what most Tech schools and colleges that have a complete machining course will look like.

(Semester 1):

Basic Machine Tech Classes

For your first semester you will be taught machining 101. Before you even consider running a high-tech and expensive CNC machine, you need to learn how to cut, drill and turn parts on a manual mill, lathe, grinder, and any other process you may use in a shop.

Machining, in a sense, is not very hard to understand. It’s just mill, drilling, reaming, and turning your part to the specified dimensions given to you on a blueprint, right? However, if that’s all it was, everyone would have their own shop and home and making a living in no time. Fortunately, for those that want to be properly trained, that’s not the case.

There are some many variables involved when machining that you cannot become a highly skilled machinist in a matter of a couple years, even if you’re taught by a Class A machinist. Proper feeds and speeds, how certain materials react to different tools, how quickly tools wear out when doing production runs, how to hold a complex part to hold tolerances, or what to do if your endmill is chattering with the suggested surface foot.

All of these things you will learn over time, but for now, you should try and take in and remember as much as possible in the first semester. Slacking off in Tech school is not a good idea, and the faster you learn the basics of machining, the quicker you will be to making a living in a real machine shop.

Blueprint Reading

Reading a blueprint is part of the basics that you must know how to do if you want to be a machinist. Telling the difference between a front and top side view is one of the first things you learn in school. However, some ‘machinists’ that have been in the industry for decades have a difficult time comprehending it.

Dimensions, hole locations and tolerances, depth call-outs, and thread sizes are just some of the many things you will see on part blueprints.

College Trig/Tech Math

Math and basic trigonometry skills are also required to figure out part dimensions and angles. Have you heard the term “SohCahToa”? If not, it’s a good way to remember when and how to use your basic trig functions; Sine, Cosine, and Tangent. If you know how to use these functions to find the length of an unknown dimension or angle for programming purposes, then you’re ahead of the field.

(Semester 2):

Machine Tech Classes

Second semester will go more in-depth for your machine tech classes. You will machine more complex parts, be required to hold tighter tolerances, and

In addition, you’ll learn more about how different materials react and what ways to machine them efficiently. Using the right tooling is very important, and you will find out how many more machining tools can get the job done, and get it done in less time.learn more about workholding a part.

GD&T

Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing can be a fairly complex class at times. However, it is very important to know if you want to machine and inspect your own parts. Part of the class is theory, but a lot of it requires you to pay special attention to what the blueprint calls out.

Flatness, perpendicularity, circularity, and straightness are just some of the callouts you may see on a part blueprint. A lot of them are straightforward, but it may result in you using special tooling to meet the specified tolerance. If not, you may end up with rejected parts and a lot of money wasted.

CNC Programming

Yes, we finally reach the first CNC programming class. No, you probably won’t be machining any/many parts on a CNC machine this semester, but you will do some simple navigating through the controllers to get a feel for how they work. For actual CNC programming your teacher will show you how to do all of the basic commands, functions, how to start up and shut down a machine/tool.

This will be semester long of learning and practicing new commands, how to mill simple features, and which part features should be done first. Repetition is the best way to learn most of the programming codes, and after that it’s just numbers. On the flip side, if you have an oddball part that is difficult to hold in vise jaws, it will require more creativity and you may not be able to machine the part conventionally. That is when you move to the next class in fixturing…

 

CNC II(Semester 3):

Your third semester CNC class will be more out in the shop and doing learning hands-on. You learned how to program with G and M-codes, so now it’s time to put that to use in the real world.

Lehman Engineering Labs

You will probably start out with a simple part to make, such as drilling holes in a square piece. You will have to hand-write the program, put it into the machine’s controller, set up the tools and offset, and run the part out. Over the semester you will be given more elaborate parts to make, which will build your confidence and skill the more you do it.

CAD/CAM

If you haven’t taken any CNC software training classes yet, you will be taking one now. CAD/CAM experience is very important if you want to be a programmer these days. Most of them are fairly easy to get used to. However, it is very easy to make bad programs and habits. This is why you should always learn how to manually machine parts and and hand-write programs before using a CNC machine or computer programming software. This is so you know how each part and tool will react and perform under certain circumstances. A lot of programmers have little machining experience outside of CAM/CAD software, making it hard to work with and run the job right without having to edit the programs. It’s just best if you start out at square one and learn things the right way the first time around.

Fixture/Tooling

While you are practicing and becoming proficient at milling and turning on both manual and CNC machines, as well as writing your own programs from start to finish, it’s time to learn about proper part fixture and tooling.

A square/rectangle part that has simple drilling and milling features can often be made with your typical 6 inch solid vise jaws. However, if you are profiling/milling the ends of a part, making a complete billet part, or have multiple operations that require a better way to clamp the piece down, simple vise jaws just won’t cut it. You need to make a fixture that can locate and clamp it with enough force without getting in the way of the cutting tools. This class will show you various ways of doing that. There is no ‘set way’ to workhold specific parts. Imagination will come into play here. “If you can think it, you can do it”.

(Semester 4):

CNC Design & Manufacturing

Two years is all it takes to get your complete AAS Degree in CNC Manufacturing, if you choose to go that far. It’s not easy for everyone, and many students drop out before getting here. But if you stick with it and enjoy it, I strongly encourage you to push through and work hard at learning as much as possible.

The CNC Design and Manufacturing class is like the grand finale. This is where you put everything together that you’ve learned on manually mills, lathes, grinders, as well as CNC mills and turning centers and manufacture your own assembly of parts from start to finish to make a functioning work of art.

You will also learn how to use additional machines, tools, and programming such as wire EDM machines, a CMM, and newer forms of programming.

Multi-Axis Machining/Programming

You can do a lot with 2 axis milling machines, but in this day and age, sometimes that just won’t cut it (pun intended). 3, 4, and 5 axis (and even swiss machining) classes are starting up in more Tech schools because they are much higher demand with bigger manufacturing companies. Multi-axis programming is definitely more difficult, but in the end, it’s all just numbers. You have to take your time, and learning how to do it efficiently and make money takes years.

If you enjoy a challenge and want to strive in the industry like I do, I also encourage you to take the opportunity of learning mult-axis machining. The more you have on your resume, the more likely a company will consider you. Although you may not be able to do the programming/work on your own right away, they see that you have some experience and they won’t have to start from scratch, saving them lots of time and money.

CNC Machinists are in high demand today, and if you are ready to start a new career, or if this is your first one, I highly recommend checking out your local Tech school!

CNC Machinist Training Requirements

Before working as a CNC Machinist, most companies require some previous experience or training. It could be getting certified at a Tech school, a certain number of years working with a number of machines and program controllers, or using specially tooling/machinery.

It really depends on the shop and what they’re looking for, but you should decide what kind of shop you’re wanting to work at in the first place so you know what to work towards.

Here’s some general requirements for each stage of a Machinist Career (Each level is a prerequisite for the next level)…

Basic Shop Helper/Student:

  • High School Diploma/Currently enrolled
  • Basic math knowledge
  • Hard worker
  • Punctual
  • Can Pass drug/background check
  • Ability to lift 30+ lbs.
  • Listens to authority
  • Quick learner and motivated

Entry Level Machinist/Operator:

  • 1-2 years of Machine trade school or previous experience
  • Ability to use basic inspection tools such as: caliper, micrometer, thread gauges
  • Be able to set tool/work offsets if needed
  • Can change out parts and properly deburr
  • Operate a band-saw
  • Occasional light assembly
  • Able to interpret blueprints

Mid-level CNC Machinist:

  • 3-5 years of previous machining experience and/or schooling in Machine Trades
  • Ability to do to set-ups on CNC milling machine or CNC Lathe
  • Ability to program and edit programs if needed
  • Some experience with CAD/CAM software preferred (depends on the position)
  • Ability to inspect own parts with proper tools
  • Math/Basic trigonometry skills
  • Basic knowledge of feeds and speeds for materials

Lead Machinist:

  • Good communication/interaction skills
  • Proficient in troubleshooting machine and program problems/alarms
  • 5 or more years of previous experience
  • Ability to teach and train new employees on machine operating, set-ups
  • Certified and experience with fork-lift operation
  • Report all maintenance and important issues to Manager
  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of each machine
  • Be a leader and organized

CNC Programmer/Engineer:

  • 2-5+ years of previous programming experience with CAD/CAM software (Gibbs,Surf,Bob,Mastercam,Solidworks,etc.)
  • Complete understanding of machine usage and programming G & M codes
  • Awareness of cutting tool technology
  • Complete understanding of work-holding strategies
  • Ability to make/utilize work fixtures with simple and complex parts
  • Strong tooling knowledge, as well as optimum feeds and speeds for each job
  • Ability to program for different machines; mill/lathe/4th axis/live tooling (if required)

CNC Machinist Training RequirementsNow not all of these are going to be the exact requirements for the job you’re applying for. However, it is important that you experience and can do all or most of the above in the given category for the job you want.

The more you know, the more your future employer will consider you. Having a strong resume doesn’t always get you the job, but it can help you get the wage/salary that you deserve based on your skill level.

What Is The Key To Being A Good Machinist?

Do you want to be a “Button Pusher” for the rest of your life?? Some people don’t have any motivation in life, so they continue doing the same old job in a machine shop for years, or possibly decades. But, if you’re like me, you want to keep moving up in the industry. To do that you have to have some natural ability, but more importantly, you have to be willing to work hard and learn from wiser machinists.

Starting out at the very bottom (yes, I mean sweeping the floor of your local machine shop) is where some of the best machinists alive today started when they were in high school. If you’re a good worker and your boss sees that you have some potential, you will get promoted. Trust me. It may take several months, or even a couple years, but eventually you’ll work your way to running and setting up machines if you have the desire.

Feeds and Speeds

If you want to be an independent CNC machinist, you HAVE TO know your feeds and speeds. In a production shop, most of their money is made by perfecting the speeds and feeds of each individual job. If you can save a few minutes here and there, or even seconds, it all adds up, especially if you are making hundreds of thousands of the same parts. Time is money in a machine shop, and if you aren’t efficient, you aren’t making money.

Which leads us to our next topic…

Fixture and Tooling

Making a part/programming is usually the easy part. Making a fixture and selecting the right tooling that will make the job run as efficient as possible is not always easy. Some jobs require special jigs, fixtures, clamps, or something exotic to hold the parts. The tighter the tolerances, the better the fixture has to be made.

The difference between using cheap tooling that works and the right tooling that is more expensive but performs better will be huge. In a job shop every minute counts, so if buying an end mill that costs twice as much as normal will last ten times as long and allow you to cut faster, it could mean the difference between making money and losing money.

Knowing what type of end mill, drill, or tap for a 303-stainless part will come with time and experience. Not only do you have to have the right tool for the job, but starting with the correct surface foot is key. Once you get a job set-up that is running 100% with no problems, then you can start optimizing the feeds and speeds.

Problem Solver

Can you come up to a problem with little to no knowledge of what was done by the previous person and fix it within a reasonable time? Machining requires problem solving almost every day, whether the previous person on the machine messed up a set-up and left a mess for you, or you’re programming a new part and the tool keeps breaking. Like everything else, with more experience, you will be able to solve more problems. Eventually you will come up to a problem that you’ve seen more than once before and know exactly what to do.

Be Teachable

Are you hard to get along with and known as a “know-it-all”? Sorry about your luck, but you probably won’t get very far in this industry with that mindset. Machine shops run the best when everyone helps each other out. No matter what you think, there will almost always be someone that knows more than you. So if they try and correct you on something you’re doing wrong, pay attention and thank them. Watch how they do things and try to learn as much as possible from them. This will help in the long run for everyone, and especially yourself if you want to move up in this industry, which will ultimately lead to higher wages.

This Is An Underpaid Profession

For what you have to know, many CNC Machinist positions are not paid enough. Before I go any further, I want to point out that anyone can make a living as a machinist if he/she puts forth the effort, especially with overtime hours. If I were to go over all the details of what all you have to know to be a true CNC Machinist that can virtually run a shop, it would be the size of a novel, and I don’t have time for that right now.

After you get your feet wet in a shop after getting some machinist experience, you’ll quickly realize what it takes to be able to make a part from start to finish. And if there’s any problems on the way, a machinist has to know how to solve it quickly to be able to make positive cash-flow.

CNC Programming Training

CNC Programmer Training Requirements

In order to become a CNC programmer, you must have extensive knowledge and experience as a machinist and troubleshooter. Programs are written in G-codes and M-codes, but modern CAM/CAD software has made it easier to perform complex and precise operations. Depending on how quickly you catch on, it can take years to learn how to program parts from start to finish. You must know the ins-and-outs of machining; how machines work, how materials react, what kind of cuts to make, what tools to use and how to use them, how to order the operations, and the list goes on.

Machinists use to mill, cut, drill, and form parts on a manual machine. This resulted in much slower and less-than-consistent parts, depending on who was running the machine. However, being able to machine parts on a manual mill and lathe will greatly help you understand on how to program parts in the future. I also strongly recommend that you learn how to hand write your programs before delving into CAM/CAD software. It will take longer to learn, but being able to edit/fix your program after it is written on software is priceless.

The time of programming training you need depends on the machine shop you’re working in and how complex the parts are. A shop that makes fairly simple parts on 3-axis CNC mills will require much less training than a shop that does 4 or 5+ axis milling.

Most machinists learn on the job over the years from more experienced people and work their way up the ladder.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a CNC Programmer?CNC Programming Training (2)

There’s several good reasons why you should train and work hard to become a programmer. Yes, it is more demanding with an increase in pressure, but what higher paying jobs aren’t?

The first reason is obvious, as you will be getting paid more than a machine operator. This reason alone is worth the time spent learning and practicing how to program. Learn from the best and you’ll be the best.

Second, it will open up more possibilities in the future if you plan on moving some place else. It’s always good to add things to your resume, and more companies will consider you with programming experience under your belt.

Another reason to train to become a cnc programmer is because you won’t be doing the dirty grunt work. No more cutting stock, deburring parts, or getting filthy from all the oils and dust. Programming is usually done in a separate room or part of the building that is clean with computers.

Where Do I Get CNC Programming Training?

If you are already on the job as a machinist, the best way to learn how to program is by “shadowing” someone that already knows how and is willing to teach you over time. If you have an experienced co-worker that has the ability to do that, take every advantage of that as you can!

That, and taking classes at your local Tech school are going to be the easiest ways to get trained in. If you have the time, it might be worth it to check your local Technical school for CNC Programming courses. There you will get hands-on work, and you will learn new things faster since you will be working on it every day.

Another possible way of learning how to program is with a Programming Training Software. If you are good at learning things on your own, this may be the best route for you, as you can train on your own time. It’s cheaper than going to school, and you can always go back and re-learn things. However, if you are someone that asks a lot of questions and needs a mentor, this may not be for you.

Click Here To Buy My CNC Programming Handbook. I have found this book to be the most resourceful as far as programming goes. Everything you need to know about programming 3-axis parts is in this book.

CNC Machinist Training – How to Become A Machinist

CNC machining and other manufacturing jobs are in high demand in this country (U.S.), although it’s not like it used to be 30 years ago. Back then you could be an intern as journeyman and get paid a small amount while learning all the tricks of the trade. Once you were done, you more than likely had a full time job. Unfortunately, it’s not like that anymore, as many shops don’t have the time to train-in machinists.

While there are many ‘machine operator‘ positions available, most the actual Machinists positions that companies are looking for require you to have 5+ years of experience. This is done to try and “weed out” the rookies that don’t know much about the trade. Like anything else, though, you aren’t going to get rid of a lot of the newbies, and shops may even miss a “diamond in the rough” by having those requirements. I know of guys that have been in the machining industry for almost 20 years that could be out-knowledge by a 1st year semester student.

In order to get experience, you often have to start out at the bottom. There’s nothing like getting on the job experience, but you will want to get in a job that has a positive atmosphere that does things the right way, and have employees that are willing to go out of their way to help a new guy learn about machining. There’s a few different ways to get the experience needed to move up in this trade, so we’ll quickly go over them.

Tech School

Going to a Tech school for CNC machinist training is probably the number one route today. Some shops require that you have a CNC machinist diploma in order to apply. This isn’t always the case, but if you have a local technical/vocational school with a good machine trades program and are willing to go to school for it, that is probably the best choice. I went to my local Tech school for CNC machining, not knowing much of anything about it when going in, and after two years I felt like I learned so much. That’s not going to say you are going to be a lead machinist/programmer after two years of schooling, because there is just so much to learn being a machinist, and you won’t learn nearly as much until you get out on the job.

Intern

Finding an internship may be a bit harder these days, but with the increasing demand for machinists, you just may find one. It may not be a good paying job, but would be great for a younger person in high school. You will learn a lot on the job, and by the you’re done you may have a full-time job there if they like what they see. Just keep your eyes open and something may pop up near you.

Shop Helper/Deburring Parts

Unfortunately, this route is another one that probably isn’t likely for someone that has more than themselves to take care for. If you don’t have any machining experience, you can sometimes find a position at a local machine shop as a shop helper. You will probably have to de-burr parts, cut stock, and other miscellaneous chores around the shop until they feel comfortable putting you on a cnc machine. The pay won’t be the greatest, but it’s hands-on work, and you won’t have to flip any burgers. if you work hard and a manager/shop foreman likes what they see, you may end up being promoted to a higher paying position.

Those are the three most common options for becoming a machinist. The younger you are, the biggest head start you will have, as you won’t have any dependents to worry about other than yourself as far as money goes.

Be professional, work hard, try to learn as much as you can from older and more knowledgeable machinists, and you will get noticed. Experienced machinists are getting harder to find these days, so if you have the desire, I encourage you to work hard at it.

CNC Machine Operator Training

A CNC Machine Operator is someone that runs production parts in a machine shop. They load and sort parts on a CNC machine, whether it be a milling center, turning center, or other computer-controlled machine.

There are many jobs available for cnc operators because schooling is not necessarily required. A machine operator can get trained in by the CNC Machinist or shop foreman on how to do the required tasks. Any school that has a Machine manufacturing program will teach you how to run machines, make and inspect parts, and how to do well in the industry.