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I have been in the machining/CNC field for 30 years, starting with my last two years of high school by taking a vocational machine trade’s course. Because I excelled in the machining field it gave me an opportunity to be in a tool room apprenticeship program for a local company in my area of residence. As I progressed in the company, I was given the advantage to set-up a new (at the time) CNC mill to program prototype parts. By taking advantage of these previously mentioned opportunities, it has now proven to be advantageous for me later in life. Although I was laid off in 1987 because of management changes it has been the best thing for me. My tool room abilities and CNC skills gave me job openings that has lead me to some smaller shops, were I quickly learned CNC plays a big role in all shops both large and small. After moving from a tool room environment, I stepped in to a Process Engineering role. There, I learned some of the ins and outs of quoting and setting up machining processes. Then I was given a role as a CNC Programmer; responsibly for the mills, a lathe and a wire EDM machine. This position opened my eyes to how complex CNC can truly be, at this point I realized that the best thing would be to focus on one type of CNC equipment, and learn everything possible about that particular type. I then took a job at a large enclosure manufacturer that was all sheet metal CNC equipment. This was just the opportunity I was looking for. In my current job I have excelled in learning all I can about sheet metal CNC equipment. Ultimately, leading me to have a desire to search for more information outside of my daily job functions. Because of this I have started a side business doing CNC sheet metal programming for other companies, this in turn has caused a gain in knowledge of different equipment and other processes along with greater financial security. My education has been trade school, and I have taken advantage of any other classes that have been made available to me, along with learning form my peers. Though I have no bachelors degree yet, because of my on the job experience, many my co-workers treat me as if I have one.
A key to CNC machining is the large part that computers and software play in the CNC field. Writing CNC code by hand gives a good foundation to understanding inner workings of the code, however hard coding or writing by hand is not the most efficient way to write code. Being aided by computer software is the best, as it is a tool that extends the ones ability to minimize the possibility of human errors. Coding software also generates code with operator aids in a matter of minutes, as opposed to hours if written by hand. Another time save, is the fact that there is particular software that can tool parts up, based on information entered into a knowledge base. Some software companies suggest that you batch tool parts with no manual intervention. I tend to think it’s
better to review each part, adding a certain degree of value to ensure the designer gets what they asks for. Taking an interest in the software side of CNC Machining gives one an advantage that normally a machinist would not have. There are many CAM software’s to choose from, and these key points should be kept in mind: First, make sure the software is flexible enough to do all your capacities both current and future. Once you select your software, build a good relationship with the
reseller to gain added knowledge and maybe some cost reductions later.
My side business may seem like work to some, however, it’s truly a passion to share my experience and knowledge with others. The goal is to help companies in need during a transition or during an excessive workload period. These words are summed up in my mission statement.
Independent CNC Programmer
My mission is to share CNC programming innovations for a lifetime.