What is a CNC Machinist?

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

CNC machinist skills

What I am saying is that there is so much to machining, so many parts, types of machines, materials, so on and so forth. I’ve been to a company that worked with nothing but fiberglass and some of the people there only worked there. The problem is that fiberglass is completely different from metal. Everything changes, I’m not saying that they won't be able to learn.

CNC machinist job description

To be able to enter into a company as a CNC machinist there is a need to know skills. Reading and interpreting blueprints is must-have knowledge. Depending on where you go you must be able to hold certain tolerances. Being able to read and understand G and M codes inside of the programs.

How to become a CNC machinist

First and foremost to be able to become better in anything is to first assess what you lack. CNC machining is a huge field and I believe that no one will know everything about running a CNC. As you are working on your machine you know what you lack as you read through the program or setting up a new job. Maybe you may want to learn programming in order to understand how the programs are made.

When you say how to become a better machinist is a kind of question you really want to think on. What type of machinist do you want to become?

When I asked myself this question the answer was to learn every type of machine whether it was a CNC lathe machine or a CNC mill machine. When I say either lathe or mill it didn't stop there, I wanted to learn all of the controls of these machines that were available to me at the companies I recently worked.

Then there came the opportunity to get into CNC programming but that's another story. I learned how to use cam software and also cad software so I understood how these parts were machined behind the scenes.

Also in this world, they have the plunge and wire EDM in which I learned to increase my machinist knowledge.

How to find CNC machinist?

This question truly is not a one size fits all. Basically, machinists are not hard to find it is the type of machinist that you are looking for that is the problem.

Some machinists are developed and raised with one company that works on the same parts over and over similar to a production shop and they only know those parts.

The world of machining is big and some do not really know that so they come into another environment claiming they are a machinist and they really can be but not the machinist that you are looking for.

What is the amount of time it takes to become a CNC machinist?

Becoming a machinist takes time and can truly depend upon who you are as a learner and how fast you pick up the skill. The machining world is big and has many aspects into which you can learn but there are some primary skills in which you need to possess to be able to be considered to be a CNC machinist.

For one machining is all about being able to read programs and be able to adjust when needed. Some companies already have what we call proven programs in which there are no edits involved. Others you may have to know a little more to be able to adjust the program.

When adjusting the program you want to first know your feeds and speeds and when to tweak the override for them. Sometimes there are missing or wrong g and m codes within the program which you need to change.

Not only do you need to know how to read programs you also need to know about setting up the high precision CNC machine. When setting up the machine you want to ensure everything is tightened well so you don’t risk the chance of moving and messing up a high-quality part.

What does a CNC operator do?

A CNC operator is one that is known to only have to do the pure basics. They do not setup the machines are do any program edits at all. There primary job description is to load parts into the machine and run the machine. Now some also measure the parts and make minor offset adjustments but basically anything else is up to the machinist.

What does a CNC Machinist do?

A CNC machinist has multiple levels. These machinist are not limited to the knowledge to creating a part and some even go as far as programming the machine which is a whole skill in its own. CNC machinist do their own machine setups from setting the fixture or boring the jaws, setting all of their tools, and making adjustments to prove the CNC program to produce the part to its best quality.

CNC Lathe Machinist

CNC lathe machinist are skilled at running lathe machines. There are multiple types of controls and forms of the machines which require the machinist to increase their knowledge. A CNC lathe machinist knows how to set and bore their own jaws, indicate parts, and set the tools that they are using to perform their operation on the task at hand.

CNC Mill Machinist

A CNC mill machinist is on that are skilled in the milling machines and are not limited to the many tools that a mill can use. These machinist know how to setup a fixture and be creative when needed to be able to safely run a job. They know how to setup the tools needed and touch them off on where they need to be in order to run the job successfully.

CNC Machine Training

CNC machine training is one that a person can kind of choose their way into getting into. You are able to go to a trade school and learn how to machine or learn on the job. Many of these machining companies offer a chance at learning the machines as you go but it is highly up to you to increase your knowledge

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