A computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine is an industrial tool with programming capabilities for automated operation. CNC machines are typically used in creation of machine parts that require a high degree of precision or have fine details, including medical devices and automotive parts.
A CNC machine operator must be knowledgeable in machining processes, qualities of the materials they are working with and computer operations. They must also understand how to set up these machines to produce parts based on exact specifications.
In some organizations, a CNC machinist is a more experienced CNC machine operator; however, in other organizations the two titles are largely interchangeable.
CNC machine operators must be familiar with software and essential programming languages. They must also be capable of following technical instructions and specifications, as well as figuring out the ideal setup to produce the correct product. A CNC machinist is often asked to read and comprehend blueprints that indicate fabrication tolerances. These skills require a solid mathematics foundation and an understanding of CAD/CAM technology.
Problem-solving skills are also very useful to a CNC machine operator. These professionals should be capable of evaluating the quality of products their machine is producing and make changes needed to the machine or their programming in order to boost quality.
There is a considerable variation in CNC machine types and setup requirements, but operators must have the knowledge and abilities needed to understand various machine subtleties.
While the typical CNC machinist job isn’t physically grueling, these professionals are known to work long hours on their feet.
Educational and training requirements
CNC machine operators generally start as assistants to experienced CNC machinists. Based on the person and training program, it may take as long as two years to become skilled as a CNC machinist. In some companies, progressing from a CNC machine operator to a CNC machinist calls for a few years of work experience.
Basic training for the job can begin in high school with science and math courses, particularly geometry and trigonometry. Secondary education is usually required for courses like blueprint reading and machine tooling. This instruction is available at trade and vocational schools, in addition to important certification programs.
The job of a CNC Machine Operator
CNC machine operators spend their days programming and operating their machines to make the cuts and shapes needed for part fabrication. Before fabricating parts, CNC operators must understand the part’s design by reading blueprints or drawings. Then, the machine is set up, loaded and unloaded. CNC machine operators are responsible for their machine running smoothly, troubleshooting issues that come up and making adjustments as necessary.
The work environment for this profession can vary from machine shops to production facilities. Physical demands are moderate; they can include standing for extended periods of time and lifting heavy materials. The job is also associated with a number of safety hazards. Operators must follow safety guidelines and use safe practices to minimize risk. Standard guidelines include wearing personal protective equipment to protect against flying bits of material, heat and machine noise.
At Action Group Staffing, we have a wide range of job opportunities for ambitious professionals, which often includes CNC machine operator positions. Please contact us today to find out more about how we can help your career.