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Posts Tagged ‘CAM’

The reasons for poorly skilled CNC machinists

Posted by Bert Maes on February 9, 2010

Forums offer great blog material. They show you many different takes and perspectives on one subject. Here is one:

In August 2008 williamshook2003 posted a message on the American Machinist Forum, title “Poorly trained machinist”.

He said that students fresh from school didn’t learn the basics there. They don’t know how to read a rule or a tape measure, how to hand-sharpen a drill, they don’t know anything about speeds and feeds, anything about basic trigonometry.

flatbeltbob wrote down the story a real-life situation in his shop:

The local high school sent me a junior to observe what goes on in a small machine shop – Just to see if that is something he might want to pursue. I tried to show him how a PI tape works:

–          Never heard of PI, no idea what I’m talking about.

–          OK , back up and lets read a tape measure.

–          How many inches in a foot ?

–          Not sure , but knows 2 feet is longer that one foot.

–          OK , lets look at one inch. If you take one inch and divide it into 8 equal parts, then how many eighths are in one inch?

–          “six?” he says.

Does this represent the future pool of machinist talent ?

Why is that the forum visitors ask themselves:

  • Because they rely too have on their computer skills and CAM software and assume that that program is making the machine cut in the best conditions, williamshook2003 answered.
  • Chuck added: young people see manual equipment as archaic and they state that shops need to get into CNC to be really productive. That is true, but without the training on manual equipment first, new machinists don’t understand what is going to happen when they push the start button on a CNC machine.
  • There are few good instructors,” Byron L. commented, “we haven’t even been taught in any basics, except the first week: using a file.”
  • Industrial Arts, metal shop and other trade related training is taken out of the High Schools. Consequently, we hurt our ability to attract, training and inspire new blood for this and other craft skills, said Eagle_view.
  • Chuck commented as well: the trend of poorly skilled machinists is not surprising as CNC machines are automating the production process, so where and why do we still need highly trained machinists?
  • Shop owner reacted on this statement, saying that we cannot blame the technology. We should blame the employers for not training their employees on the basics. Bluechipfan agrees: “There are actually some really smart talented kids but they need direction and guidance. That, folks, is where WE come in. You will be surprised but it requires great patience and perseverance.
  • Eagle_view takes a bit a broader look (as his name betrays) and says that because kids are being raised without a father figure in the home, they have no idea how to fix things, how to work with their hands and they don’t know anymore how things are made. “When we as a society decided that we were not going to produce anything except for information we kind of burt some bridges that we may need”.
  • According to PackratFXR we have to go back to the basics. The machine tool technology is changing daily, but the operator should know more than changing tools, watching coolant, and feeding raw stock. To fix problems, we need hands-on training!
  • littlebrewman could’t agree more: “I will always have a marketable skill and know that I can survive, cause I can do more than press the green button.”


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Do you have what it takes to be a TOP-GUN machinist?

Posted by Bert Maes on December 2, 2009

Computer numerical control (CNC) machining makes all manufacturing processes much easier by automating and speeding up the production of the everyday objects we all know.

What does it take to be a CNC specialist?

  • Above all; this is a job for creative minds – creators and makers. People that are willing to produce original, surprising and unusual ideas.
  • Highly creative people tend to be independent, nonconformist and unconventional. They are likely to have wide interests, greater openness to new experiences and a more cognitive flexibility and risk-taking boldness.
  • CNC machining is not as easy as you might think. You will have to acquire considerable expertise. It is often said  that in any chosen domain it takes 10 years of training and effort to fully master the necessary knowledge and skills to produce a work of genius. You can find many examples of genius CNC manufacturing on
  • Working with CNC machines means that you will be dealing with a lot of computer work. You have to be very familiar with computer operations.
  • You have to have knowledge about blueprint reading to know what to program the machine to do. This is because basic design concepts and construction is hinged heavily on blueprints.
  • CAD, blueprint & product specifications must be translated through CAM computer software into a machine-readable format.
  • CNC machines only understand commands in a specific programming language, so you will have to learn so called “G-codes” in depth.
  • You will have to be very familiar with machining operations: Which machine tools are for which job? How fast can the machine work? What is the rate of feed for the machine? What is the depth of the cut needed for the operation? How do I measure that? What are the right tools and cutting sequences, with efficiency and safety in mind? How should I install the most solid workpiece clamping and positioning solution? What is the best coolant and lubrication mix and how should I regulate and adjust the flow to material needs?
  • You must be able to interpret data in the program output stack, comparing test results with design specifications
  • In case of any glitch, you will need to learn to perform programming edits and restructure the program quickly.
  • You will have to control and prevent damage to tools, materials, or machinery during the production cycle.
  • Of course cleaning and removing any waste material in a safe manner is part of the job.

Last, but not least: salaries are very negotiable: companies take care of their CNC specialists as there is always a shortage of skilled enough people to take hold of the position. In Europe, people on manufacturing earn 9% more than others…

The benefits are solid. Think about this career. Check and for the best CNC schools.

This post is based on:



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End of the world near? Start a career in Manufacturing!

Posted by Bert Maes on November 20, 2009

NOW your daily life depends on manufacturing (just look through my blog category “Value of CNC). But… the manufacturing sector will be even MORE important in the future:

  • In my opinion, the 21st century is the decisive century in which we choose (all countries) whether we will become a great civilization and human species longevity ill continue or we will lose it all.” (TSP, in: End of the world near?)
  • “Any approach that does not focus on technological solutions to climate change  is one of  utter hopelessness.” (Sir David King, in: Science chief: greens hurting climate fight)
  • Science, technology & manufacturing provide the only hope for mankind to attain a sustainable existence on earth. (Peter Hall, in: Revolutionary Times)

So if your goal in life is “making a real difference in the world“, I have only one advice: START A CAREER IN MANUFACTURING.

BUT… don’t focus on just any manufacturing course. Follow those in which you can actually get real relevant hands-on experience on the latest and greatest manufacturing equipment.

Haas Automation (Oxnard, California) is doing “a great thing” in this regards, says Patrick E. Dessert (in: Writing a hot resume for today’s job market):

“They are setting up a partner program with learning institutions across the world. “In this program Haas works with community colleges, providing them modern equipment for training their student technologists. Find one of the community colleges that is a Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) and go there. If you are going to spend the time, make it worthwhile. You can even check the internet at or to find a school near you“.

Get fully acquainted with the machine tools, CAD, CAM and  robotics. afterwards go into nanomanufacturing: “In many ways I see manufacturing being reinvented in the next ten years. I believe that the way to a new future is going to be led by the seismic shift to nanomanufacturing and micromanufacturing.” (Patrick E. Dessert)

Also see my post: Green Technology ~ Nano-engineering and CNC

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[Video] How quality knives are actually produced

Posted by Bert Maes on November 16, 2009

Kevin Wilkins is one of the best custom-made knife makers in the world.

gd7_09He shows on his website that the creation of these everyday useful objects in the most effective and efficient way all comes down to four (4) things:

  1. Designing a computer CAD/CAM blue print of the object you want to make.
  2. Selecting the right metal, aluminium or other material.
  3. Learning how to program and handle precision cutting CNC machines.
  4. And lots of passion and creativity.


To read more in ENGLISH:  CNC Magazine 3D EBook: “The Art of Steel by Matt Bailey

ht_cher_1To see more on the production of Wilkins Knives [in GERMAN]:

To learn where to study CNC machining:


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Part 1: Green Technology ~ Wind Turbines and CNC

Posted by Bert Maes on July 2, 2009

Waves of innovation

This is one of those charts I’ll love to use. It deserves some further research and clarification, so I’ll write a few posts on the role of CNC machining in the next “waves of innovation”.

Part 1: Green Technology ~ Wind Turbines and CNC

Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine tools are vital in the wind turbine industry.

CNC machines are actually big computers to shape steel, aluminium, titanium or plastic into critical components of the wind turbine. From the smallest pieces to the giant parts: all are one or two steps away from CNC machining.

CNC technologists first create or review a CAD/CAM computer model for the specific wind turbine part to be made. Next, they load the program in the machine, they select the tools and equipment needed to shape the piece, and calculate where to cut or drill.

They use their knowledge and skills in materials, computers and machine tools to produce the part to extremely precise specifications.

Wind Turbine Elements

It must be extremely rewarding to design technology and create solutions that are very relevant in society and make a real difference for our future.

Don’t you think?

Following soon:

Part 2 might be: Green Technology ~ Nano-engineering and CNC

Part 3 could be: Green Technology ~ Solar Power and CNC

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