Exploring Manufacturing CareersCNC Machine Operator

In our educational series, we explore different careers in manufacturing.

Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine operators are tasked with the operation of computer numerically controlled machines for the production of metal or plastic parts. This entails setting up and operating these CNC machines or even robots to perform particular functions on the work pieces being manufactured. They must first review the blueprints to ensure that the proper sequencing and machine operations are followed. Through the use of computer networks, they will then transmit the server commands to the CNC modules so that it can govern machine operations.

CNC machine operators also use hand and precision measuring tools to install different fixtures and work pieces on these machines. In order to begin operations, they will then input the instructions to the machine control units and closely monitor the machines while in operation. They do so to ensure that it is functioning as it should. If they notice unusual sounds, they immediately stop operations to make the necessary adjustments. In case the operators notice that the problem is due to cutting tools that have already dulled blades as a natural consequence of wear and tear, they will have to replace them with fresh ones. When stopping machine operations, they must make sure to follow the set sequences to avoid damage to the equipment.

Quality control is also part and parcel of the work of CNC machine operators. When a work piece is done, they measure it using precision measuring tools and compare it against given templates to ensure that it conforms to the given standards. If it doesn’t, they put it back to the machine so that it can be corrected. They may have to completely discard a part if it has been damaged beyond repair. CNC machine operators must ensure that they deliver the required number of products while maintaining the highest quality in meeting production goals.

Why Become a CNC Machine Operator

A career as a CNC machine operator is ideal for those who are mechanically-inclined. They should be interested to work with such machines as lathes, milling machines, lasers and other types of industrial machinery. This profession is also well-suited for those who like to work with hand and power tools and look forward to repetitive tasks. Those who can readily understand blueprints and have no problems following and comprehending numerical sequences will find this job to be quite satisfying.

CNC Machine Operator Work Environment

CNC machine operators are typically hired by companies involved in manufacturing machinery and transportation equipment. Machine shops also employ them. Although they work in well-ventilated areas, the work environment which is dominated by heavy machinery can pose hazards if the necessary precautions are not taken. Thus, they must wear protective equipment like ear plugs to safeguard their ears from the loud noise produced by heavy machinery and goggles to shield their eyes from flying particles that can come from the work pieces produced by the CNC machines. The work is typically fulltime and CNC machine operators usually report for duty during regular hours. However, overtime work may be necessary especially during periods of high demand.

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