When you think about the items you use every single day, you likely don’t stop to think about how all of the parts of those items came to be. After all, manufacturing often takes place in factories and industrial facilities tucked away from public view. As a consumer, you simply go to a store or order something online and complete your purchase.


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The fact is, however, that most mass-produced products in America and around the world today require a small army of machinists and equipment in order to make it from the factory floor to your front door.

While traditional machining involves the use of tools like drills, lathes and clamps, modern methods of turning a workpiece into a final product involve advanced computer numerical control (CNC) machines that rely on computer programming and advanced electronics to carry out intricate machining tasks.

Do Computer-Assisted Machines Require a CNC Operator?

Despite the fact that modern CNC machines carry out the bulk of their operations through programming, most still require a skilled CNC machinist to complete tasks.

The use of CNC technology has helped to increase productivity and reduce the number of workers involved in the production of parts, tools and equipment, but these systems are not completely autonomous.

What Does A Machinist Do?

A machinist working within the CNC manufacturing space is typically required to monitor automated operations, provide operational support for tasks that require intervention, aid in malfunction resolution and engage in preventative maintenance. CNC machine operators also need to report and respond to machine emergencies as well as assist in the management of workpieces as they move from a machine’s service input straight through to when finished goods are packaged for shipping.

What Are the Requirements to Get a CNC Machinist Job?

A machinist job working with CNC equipment has varying requirements. For example, a tool and die maker who operates a CNC machine may need to have specialized training in working with computer-aided design (CAD) software in order to successfully complete their daily tasks. CAD software requires knowledge of design principles and engineering to be used effectively, and math skills are also a plus for CNC machine jobs.

A CNC machine operator who specializes in 3D printing may need to be able to perform intricate calculations involving different chemical properties and values in order to operate a 3D printer.

This is because 3D printing requires the right measurements of raw materials in the right combinations in order to not only create a finished product but also to do so safely. Mixing the wrong raw materials could lead to chemical reactions that are hazardous to equipment and human health.

For most people entering the CNC machining industry, however, a high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum educational requirement. Jobs requiring skilled labor may require advanced degrees. Likewise, an employer may require prior CNC machine operation experience for new employees.

Machinist Tools Of The Past And CNC Jobs Of The Future

Although digital technology has given rise to a new breed of machinist, traditional tools have not completely gone by the wayside. CNC machines still require the basic principles of physics in order to operate, and this means that they still utilize traditional and sometimes simple tools to get the job done.

Even though a CNC machine may have a microchip processing a lot of the details, drills, presses, lathes and other traditional tools still do the heavy lifting.

As connected and digital technologies continue to evolve and become more intertwined with manufacturing, it’s likely that CNC machinist career opportunities will continue to grow.

Aside from the rise of computer-assisted technology, cottage industries are springing up around the availability of 3D and CNC printing equipment at consumer prices.

Credit: Eessty

This has led to the creation of more and more small businesses that create niche and custom products for customers out of rented warehouses and even home garages. While these job creators may have a minimal impact on the availability of CNC machinist jobs on their own, they are having an impact when factored in together.


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