Becoming a CNC operator in the manufacturing industry is an option that many people might consider, although you may not want to take the plunge if you don’t know what the career opportunities are.
To that end, here’s a summary of the skills CNC machining will teach you and the career development opportunities available to professionals, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right career for you.
A brief introduction to CNC technology
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines have been around for several decades, and the term CNC covers all kinds of manufacturing equipment from drills, mills and lathes to laser cutters and more.
CNC technology differs from the old ways of making parts and machining materials in that the tool is mechanically controlled and its movements are determined by a pre-programmed computer design. This takes the direct control of the craftsman out of the equation, although as you’ll notice, CNC gears still involve a lot of human workers.
Another universally useful skill set on which to build a career in CNC machining is communication, both written and oral.
The ability to interpret blueprints and plans provided by engineers, translate them into physical components using equipment, and work with colleagues to find the best way to meet customer needs will be an integral part of a machinist’s experience on the job every day.
As such, in addition to interpersonal skills, which are important in any workplace, you will also need to understand how many different communication platforms work.
Manufacturing is probably the one industry where attention to detail is more important than in any other setting. One small mistake can have serious consequences for a company. A seemingly small defect or glitch overlooked early on can have serious repercussions when it makes its way into thousands or millions of out-of-spec production units.
CNC machine operators are not necessarily responsible for creating these problems in the first place, but they are a much more valuable asset to the organizations they represent if they can pay attention to detail and catch potential disasters before they spread.
Whether it’s testing and maintaining equipment, analyzing designs, or identifying problems with materials and prototypes, machinists need to be on the lookout, and they need to develop the skills necessary to do so.