Tag Archives: cnc machinist training

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

Any company in the machining industry has to incorporate Lean Manufacturing in their business and process plan to survive these days. To put it in simple terms, lean manufacturing is the production practice of being efficient by eliminating any ‘waste’ in the process plan. Though they may not call it this, all companies strive to be lean because it makes their customers happy, and ultimately, more money.

Although there was seven original “Wastes” involved in lean manufacturing, we’ll look at eight of the most common ones in a machine shop. Most of them are simple, but it can take a lot of work and orchestrating to implement them all. There is no perfect company that has it all figured out. There is always room for improvement, which is why employers seek new ways to lean out their manufacturing process. The acronym for this practice is “DOWNTIME”. Now you could just look this term up on wikipedia, but it won’t give you a real perspective or example of what it means. Those are just general illustrations in the manufacturing industry, but working in a machine shop may produce different scenarios.

Defective Production:

If bad parts are made, it takes more time to either re-work it or make another one. More material, more machine time, more tooling wear, which can add up to almost double the cost of a part. The machine shop pays for this and not the customer, and that is why it is on the list of big “wastes” that companies try to eliminate. We are only human, so mistakes do happen occasionally, but the goal is to decrease the percent of defective parts.

Overproduction:

I believe that this one can go either way, but if space is expensive, then overproduction is definitely considered a waste. If you make extra parts for a customer, it costs more time to make them, and the excess supply of parts costs more to store because it takes up more space in between machining and shipping, plus the time it will take for the customer to order more. If something happens to the customer and they discontinued that part or went to a different vendor, your extra inventory has now turned into a complete waste of money.

Waiting:

There’s two ways you can look at this; the parts that are waiting, or the machinist that is waiting. This happens whenever you have stock waiting to be cut or for operations on a machine. There is usually a waiting time in between finishing the parts and shipping. This takes up valuable time, as well as space. Although it may not seem like a big difference if parts are waiting an extra day or two to be worked on or shipped, the quicker you get the parts out your door, the quicker you can move on to another part/order.

Non-used Employee Talent:What Is Lean Manufacturing

This should be an easy, but too many employers miss it. If you have an employee that is skilled multi-axis machining and/or programming, putting them on a grinder or running simple mill parts is a waste of talent. Even if they need a little more training, it’s much more efficient to move that employee to the more complicated work instead of hiring another person, which you may have to train-in anyway.

Transportation:

Transportation is all of the unneeded movements of parts and materials. The shortest route from point A to point B is a straight line, anything else is wasting time. While it’s not always possible to do this in a machine shop, the shorter the distance parts and material have to travel the better.

Inventory:

This is similar to overproduction because having too big of an inventory takes up space and takes more machine time to run. If you’re making more parts than the order requires, it is considered wasteful inventory.

Motion:

Much like wasteful transportation of parts, a machinist should reduce wasteful motion as much as possible to be efficient. If you’re setting up a job, all the tools should be set-up and ready to go or on the workbench next to the machine. This can be done during cycle time of the previous job to save time. When loading and unloading parts in the machine during production, as well as part deburring, having everything close by or within reaching distance will reduce motion and save time in the long run.

Excessive Processing:

Like mentioned before, time is the biggest money breaker or maker, and if you’re spending too much time trying to perfect parts or orders when it is not needed, then you’re wasting time. If you have wide open tolerances on some or most of the part features, spending extra set-up and/or cycle time to try and get it right at the nominal number is waste. As long as all of the parts are within tolerance of the blueprint, they’re good. If the part doesn’t go together during assembly or function properly, it’s that customer’s job to fix the print, not the machine shop’s job.

Now, how can YOU as a Machinist benefit from all of this? This can help boost your reputation at your current job, as well as your resume. The harder you work at being more efficient, the more your boss/foreman will notice. This may result in better raises, a promotion, or benefits in various ways.

Although not all of these factors directly relate to you, suggesting them to higher authority may give you better recognition in the long run.

How To Get Fired/Hired On Your First Week As A Machinist

Starting or transitioning to a new job can be difficult. New people, different machines, new shop, and a different way of doing things (to an extent). If you’re already hired and can actually do what you put on your resume, it’s not very likely that you’ll be fired in the near future. That is, unless, you have the same routine at every job. Allow me to explain…

It is easier to train one guy to work like the other 20 machinists, than to train the 20 to work like one machinist. If you already have a way of doing things as a machinist, be prepared to change it up a little bit. Just because you learned how to do something at your previous job or jobs, if your new company does it a different way, YOU are the one that has to change.

A company is not going to change how they do things just because that is how you learned it. One of the quickest ways to get fired is by disagreeing or trying to force your own techniques onto the new shop. Unless they are very open to new ideas and strategies on how to manufacture their parts, they will only keep you so long.SCCCNC1.JPG

So, how do I keep my job after the first week or even month? By working with them and doing things how they want done. Now this doesn’t mean that every technique has to be the exact same, but the process and finished part should be identical. If you think they are doing something wrong or less than efficient, politely suggest to them how they could improve, and ultimately, save money. If that doesn’t catch their attention, then so be it; either deal with it or move on.

If they have a improper machining practices and aren’t willing to accept any better methods, then maybe it’s not so bad that you find another company to work for. It’s often hard to find out how a company operates during one short interview. You don’t really know how they do things until you start working with them.

CNC Programmer Salary – How Much Am I Worth?

Are you good at programming on CAM/CAD software? Programmers are in high demand in most areas around the United States. The salary, or wage, for CNC programmers depends on a couple things. There’s a wide spectrum of programmers because not everyone has the same experience. However, just because you have 10 years of programming ‘experience’ doesn’t mean you’re worth more than the other guy that gas only 3 years. More on this later…

Master The Systems

While a programmer with less years on the job can get paid more, the more you know the better. Having 8 years of experience on Mastercam is great, but if you know how to program on Gibbs, Surfcam, as well as multi-axis on CAM systems, you’re worth more to certain companies.

Knowing how to run multiple CAM or CAD systems gives you an edge over the competition if you’re looking for a job because you’ll fit the “requirements” for a lot more companies that are looking for a programmer.

CNC Programmer Salary - How Much Am I Worth
Programming on Mastercam

Even if you haven’t worked with a certain software that a company you want to work for uses, having experience with multiple other systems makes you more versatile, which will making it much easier for them to train you in on their programming software. Every CAM/CAD system is different, but you’re essentially doing the same thing with all of them; programming. If you’re used to being acclimated to a new software, learning how to use one more shouldn’t be an issue.

What’s the Demand?

If there’s no demand in your area for a programmer like you, don’t expect to get a high paying job offer in the near future. Big cities with Machining, such as Houston, Minneapolis, and Ohio have a high demand for any and all kinds of Machinists or Programmers. Finding a job in these areas isn’t too difficult today because the manufacturing demand is high.

If you want to get started as a programmer, you can find easier jobs at shops that will start you at the bottom and work your way up if you only have school experience. It’s not going to be a wealthy salary, but it’s better paying than most operators.

Let’s See Some Numbers

Okay, this is probably the real reason why you’re here… Programmers are usually paid more than machine operators, which is a big reason why so many machinists go to school for programming. Before I throw any digits out there, you should know that these are not set in stone. Every market and area of the country/continent is a little bit different. These numbers are a general starting point to show you what a CNC programmer can make for a living.

If you’re looking for a first just as a programmer, even if you’ve been a machinist for a few years, you’ll probably start towards the bottom of the pay scale. Right now, most full-time programmers start out around the 18-20 dollar an hour mark. It won’t make you rich, but if you’re looking for a good starting job, there’s usually a good amount of room for improvement.

If you look in the classifieds of Job listings, you’ll often see Programmer wanted ads with 3-5 years of experience. With more experience, comes more money (for the most part). The compensation is usually in the low-mid 20s for wages, and if you’re working overtime like a lot of shops do these days, that could be a pretty decent paycheck. However, like mentioned before, not only do you have to have the years of experience qualification, but also the right kind of experience as far as programming on CAM/CAD systems.

For you programming masters out there, high 20s and into the $30+/Hr mark is not uncommon. Some machine shops just need a lead programmer that can do it all, and to some companies, that person may be worth 35 bucks an hour.

Lathe and basic mill programmers are usually at the bottom of spectrum because they require the least amount of skill and training. The high-end jobs are usually multi-axis or special milling programmers that require a lot more training.

Once again, these salaries aren’t going to make you a millionaire. But that’s not why you chose CNC Manufacturing as a career, otherwise you would have gone a different and probably less interesting route.

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment…

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

Basic Programming Terms – CNC Structure In 4 Steps

Character

The smallest unit in CNC programming is a character. It can be a letter, digit, or a symbol. They are combined to make ‘words’ in the CNC language. A letter is just what it sounds like; a letter from the alphabet. While 26 letters are usable for programming, read this article for a list of commonly used letter codes.

There’s ten digits, 0 to 9, used to make numbers in programs. They are used in two different ways; with or without decimals. It depends on the mode, as well as the control. A number can also be used in place of a decimal-number if the controller allows it.

Symbols are the third type of character used in CNC programming. It depends on the control options, but the symbols used most often include: a decimal point, parenthesis, minus sign, as well as a percentage sign.

Word

Words are the next step in the structure, and they are simply a combination of characters. A word consists of a capital letter, followed by a number, and sometimes a symbol, depending on the code. Words are used to specify speed, feedrate, position, commands, and other functions.

Block

Basic Programming Terms - CNC Structure In 4 Steps

A Block, also known as a Sequence block, is multiple Words. A word is just one piece of information or instruction, while a block uses at least one word to make a complete command or cycle. Blocks are written on separate lines, and are separated by an “End-of-Block” code.

Program

How do you get a CNC Program? You put a bunch of Blocks together that will machine a part. As simple as that sounds, you have to have all the right characters and words to get each command to work. A program will begin with a program number, and will be sequenced by blocks in order of operations, and end with a program stop or cancel code.

Character > Word > Block > Program

Drill, Bore, Ream, Oh Why!?

Drilling, boring, then reaming is the proper order of operation when machining a hole. This is just one of the fundamentals you will learn in Machining 101. Whether you’re on a manual mill or a cnc milling center, this process will get you the most accurate hole size.

Why can’t I just drill? That is a very good question, if you’re just starting out as a machinist or are in training, you probably won’t know how every kind of tool is going to perform. While a drill, even when spot drilled, can make a nice looking hole, it can’t always hole a tight diameter or circularity tolerance. A standard drill can walk, and that can change the location if it’s a thru-hole. Drills are not always ground perfect, resulting in one lip bigger than the other. This causes the hole to be more egg-shaped and often over-sized.

Want a perfectly circular hole? The boring bar comes next because, unlike a drill, it is sturdy and will follow the same path all the way down the hole. A drill is floating in its holder that causes run-out, but a boring bar is sturdy and will make a circular hole, whether the existing hole is already or not.

Boring Bar and Inserts
Boring Bar and Inserts

The reamer comes last if you want an accurate hole. You should only leave several thousandths left after boring, depending on what material you’re cutting. A reamer is much more precise than a drill, but it will follow the path of the existing hole. This is why you should bore the hole prior to reaming, otherwise the ream will follow the path of the drilled hole, which may not be straight. A bore is accurate, but you can get a better finish with a reamer, and it can still hold tenths for a tolerance if you have a good reamer.

How To Read A Part Blueprint For CNC Machinists

Reading a blueprint accurately is extremely important in the machining industry. If you can’t decipher a print or flip your views (more on that later), you’ll have a hard time meeting the part requirements.

The first thing to look at is the job description box. It has all of the material, part number, revision, date, and other information about the part. If you’re just an operator or a set-up guy, the most important things are the material and part number, as well as the tolerances if given. Always check to see if there are revisions, however, in case the program needs to be modified to meet the new dimensions/tolerances.

If you’re on a milling, look at the overall length of the part. If it’s square or rectangular, how wide is it, and what is the height? What are the tolerances? If there’s no specified, there’s generally a set tolerance in the description box that depends on how many decimal places the dimension is. So, if the part is 4.75″ long, and the tolerance for .xx decimal numbers is .01, then the tolerance is 4.750″ + or – .010″.

If there’s any milling features involved, you’ll need to check the length, depth, width, and possibly angles of them too. Calipers, micrometers, and depth mics are good tools to check dimensions quickly, but if you need to check something that has a very tight tolerance, more expensive tools or machines are required.

Basic Part Blueprint
Basic Part Blueprint

Holes are pretty straight forward. They can be drilled, bored, reamed, and even circulated-interpolated by an end mill. Look at the blueprint to see if the specified hole is a through or blind hole with a called out depth. If it has a given depth, does it need to be a flat bottom, or can it be left with a drill bottom? If a hole has a tolerance of .002″ or less, ground gauge pins should be used. Large holes can be checked with more expensive tools, depending on what your machine shop has.

Counter-bores and counter-sinks are usually machined in relation to holes. A counter-bore will have dimensions for the diameter and depth of the bore. A counter-sink will have diameter dimension, as well as a given angle. Not all counter-sinks called out are 90 degrees, so always pay close attention.

Another common feature to look for is threaded holes. They can be tapped or cut with a thread mill. Nothing too special about threads either, just check the minor diameter with go and no-go gauge pins, as well as the major diameter of the thread with thread gauges. Your shop should have a collection of thread gauges of all common thread sizes and pitches, as well as any specialty thread required by a customer.

Are there any radius features on the part blueprint? A radius can with be milled by and end mill, or cut with a radius tool cutter. If you are running a part that has been made in the past, then you shouldn’t have to adjust the tool or radius offset much, if at all. The radius should make a perfect blend with the flats. Check it with a radius gauge or optical comparator.

A chamfer is often used on the edges of a part as a part of deburring and to make the part look much cleaner and more professional. It is a simple call-out on the print, as you only need to check the size and angle of the chamfer. If you have a large amount of tolerance, you can check it with a depth micrometer.

Also, hole or feature dimensions are very critical. They will usually come from the origin or the edge of the part. Dimensions often come from part features as well. Such as if there’s a line of several holes, the first hole dimension will come from the part edge. then the second hole dimension will come from the location of the first hole, and so on and so forth.

In reality, reading a blueprint isn’t all that difficult, it’s basically just a lot of common sense, and memorizing certain manufacturing symbols. Don’t be intimidated by a print with lots of numbers and detail, just take your time and read everything carefully. In fact, I would rather have a part blueprint with too much information than too little, although having the print cluttered with extra numbers is not efficient.

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.