Career in CNC - Would CNC be Right for Me?
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    Question Career in CNC - Would CNC be Right for Me?

    Hello,

    What it takes to become CNC operator?
    Are there certain personality traits one should have?

    Would having 12 grades and technical background be enough
    or there are other things to consider?
    I don't have maturity diploma from secondary school.

    I served in army for 2 years, doing APC maintenance, mostly
    assembly and disassembly if that means something...

    There are CNC milling courses where I live costing about
    $2500 for 180 hours of tuition but I am reluctant to jump
    in because I don't want to waste money for something that
    is not for me. I am afraid of failure.

    Thanks.

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    If you aren't willing to invest $2500 in your education, maybe you aren't very sure about it.

    You only will fail if you don't try it.

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    There are several aspects of CNC machining to consider. First off, (in most places) an Operator is just that. A human robot who stands at the machine and puts the part in, pushes the start button, and takes the part out, when the cycle completes. Some factories teach their HR how to adjust parameters for tool wear. An operator is a good stepping stone while serving an apprenticeship, or going to school. Next there is a Set Up. The person who sets the machine up to run the task at hand. Smaller or short run job shops combine there Set Up, and Operator's and call them Machinests. And 3rd you have a Programmer. The person who writes code for the CNC machine that's being ran. Usually with the aid of a CAD/CAM software. Next is what type of CNC. Because now a day, almost every machine out there has a Computer Numerical Control system on it. Lathe, Mill, EDM, Laser, Robotics, and that's just to name a brief few. I've been a Vertical Machinist (VMC) for 20 years. I've done it all from, programming, to set up, to operations, and maintenance, to complete over hauls. I am a Tool n Die maker who has taken the time required for schooling and teaching as well. And my strength has mostly been a CNC Mill guy but also manual equipment. I've recently decided to take on a Hitachi Seiki HT-25 turning center. Sure it's G code but it's just different enough by its machining method to be a challenge for me. Oh and also a Brother TC-225 with a conversational control. Ugh that's a control I really don't like. The point is. I've climbed the ladder, put myself in situations to better my knowledge for my career. Did the research, as you may be doing now. Failed and succeeded. And through it all I've learned. It's the guy with the smart's who makes the dough.
    Good luck.


    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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    I'll be honest and say that that course seems way too short for actually learning to be a machinist. The course that I went to which is laughed about in my area is 905 training hours and costs about $14000 but takes you from hand tools to manual machines to operating a CNC mill with light programming to a CNC lathe with light CAM programming. All with the appropriate math and trig and blueprint reading to go along with it. Being a trade school it's set up for everyone to pass for just showing up but you're the one that needs to put in the effort to actually learn and absorb the stuff. To put things in perspective on my last day of class, right before graduation, one of my classmates asked me, "Is this an end mill?" while holding up a drill. So just be careful with your choice of trade schools. Also be aware of some of the old farts that will refuse to give you the time of day and will constantly tell you, you're young, you have so much going for you, don't stay at this shitty place, you should go back to school and not work here. I've had that happen at every single shop I've ever worked at. My personal suggestion is that, since you've already got the training to work on diesel engines, to do something in that area. Just my personal opinion.

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    *** Also be aware of some of the old farts that will refuse to give you the time of day and will constantly tell you, you're young, ***
    Or office politics. Everyone trying to be the better option rather than working together. I hated hearing. "You gotta pay your dues" or running into guys who acted as know it alls but were just hustlers. Always good idea to have a couple trades under the belt. When I tire from machining, I do construction. It's a good mix for me.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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    TechnicGeek,

    Do you enjoy working with your hands?
    How good are your math skills?
    On a scale of 1-10 (1= lowest) how would you rate your attention to details?
    Can you (or your significant other) deal with "Machinist's hands" ?? (metal splinters, cuts, nicks, scrapes, grease, coolant)

    ~~~~~~
    I think that 180 hours would barely cover the basics. It took me a few years running manual equipment, before I was thrown into the CNC world.
    I am thankful that I learned that way; though, I have had excellent employees that learned programming/setup without ever running manual machines.

    Doug.

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    Instead of CNC subtractive machining, how about learning additive machining?
    That is the FUTURE of manufacturing.
    Of course, I have no clue how you could go about getting an education in 3D printing of metals, but that is a you-problem.
    (No offense intended)

    Doug.

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    You guys realize that he is smart enough to put his location in his profile, making him head and shoulders smarter than at least one of you. (not referring to Doug)

    He is in Israel. OP if you mean $2500.00 that is 10,000 Shekels right? For a Month of training, is not a good deal here. But if it's very intensive and you are very quick, it might be worth it. I would look at the market around you, and try to determine how much work there is for a new guy. Because you'll be a new guy until you have actual shop experience.

    R

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    Wow! People actually look at profiles. Lol I'm from a aland of islands. Lol. Actually WI, USA
    A take a leap. Be your own boss. Pay could be good or bad. The hours...... same. Good or bad.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnicGeek View Post
    I am afraid of failure.
    That's your problem. Don't be afraid of failure.

    "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"
    If you fail at something, use that as a learning moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johneezreno View Post
    Always good idea to have a couple trades under the belt. When I tire from machining, I do construction. It's a good mix for me.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    I'll probably do this, I'll try to go between machining and being a mechanic. Good idea honestly

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"
    Except in Skydiving!

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    That class is a start, and not expensive for 180 hours. You will will learn even more on the job and also likely going back to school for more classes, and hopefully your employer will send you to some training classes too.
    I started before HS in a small job shop by accident, and worked at many places over the years. Learned a lot on my own, continued with school and companies sent me to school too....now employed at a OEM horizontal machine tool manufacturer with the original car name.

    Good luck and stay positive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doug925 View Post
    TechnicGeek,

    Do you enjoy working with your hands?
    How good are your math skills?
    On a scale of 1-10 (1= lowest) how would you rate your attention to details?
    Can you (or your significant other) deal with "Machinist's hands" ?? (metal splinters, cuts, nicks, scrapes, grease, coolant)

    Doug.
    When it comes to math, what level is expected?
    Do I need to be good in geometry?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnicGeek View Post
    When it comes to math, what level is expected?
    Do I need to be good in geometry?
    Shop math is mostly trigonometry. You need to be able to solve angles and tangent points.

    As mentioned, you can't fear failure- it's the best teacher. You don't learn anything new by being right.

    Machining requires you be extremely detail orientated and use all your senses. You have to keep your head in the game, especially on the boring repetitive stuff.

    Lazy is fine- a good machinist makes the machine do the work. But a wandering mind does not belong in a machine shop.

    Aptitude, the desire to learn, and a good work ethic beats a certification all day long.

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    It really isn't that much about being "good with Math", it's not like were solving anything in a Shop, the formulas are already proven. We're not doing Quantum Mathematics, or something smart people do. But it is there all day, using Formulas and understanding a basic Cartesian Grid system, and Pythagorean Theory. Other than that it's just adding and subtracting. Everything translates into numbers, Computer Numeric Control.

    Robert

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    Quote Originally Posted by jancollc View Post
    Aptitude, the desire to learn, and a good work ethic beats a certification all day long.
    But it won't get you hired, call me salty but shops these days aren't interested in training anyone. Almost no one wants or is willing to teach anyone. My previous employer hired the laziest MFer I could ever imagine, and when the supervisor/lead man said "I don't want this guy here" the owner said "Well can he push a button?" and he stayed until he caused a safety issue then he was reluctantly fired.

    Back to the OPs point, for the small amount of training that class provides I would suggest teaching yourself just a bit through YouTube/books/free online stuff, and go to an employer and try to get hired there. You usually just have to be able to generally read a blueprint and know how to measure stuff using a micrometer and/or dial calipers. If you know how to do that you're likely to get hired as an entry level operator and from there learn as much as you can and move up ASAP. It's way too easy to get stuck as an operator. My most recent former employer had guys that were just operators for over 30 years and know nothing about anything else.

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    Learning as much as you can on YouTube is great, but if the class is hands-on then you'll learn a lot more there. You can know all there is to know about snow and physics but you can't be a good skier without time on the slopes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by litlerob1 View Post
    It really isn't that much about being "good with Math", it's not like were solving anything in a Shop, the formulas are already proven. We're not doing Quantum Mathematics, or something smart people do. But it is there all day, using Formulas and understanding a basic Cartesian Grid system, and Pythagorean Theory. Other than that it's just adding and subtracting. Everything translates into numbers, Computer Numeric Control.

    Robert
    This is true, I feel like it can be often overstated the math requirement for machining. Although like much else it really depends on the shop. If you are laying things out without CAD and programming G-code on the fly, yes there's a bit of math you need to know. Basic algebra for speeds/feeds is ubiquitous no matter what, but that's easy. My process and equipment is set up so that I rarely ever have to deal with anything beyond that unless it is something really unusual or something goes wrong. Because of that, on a typical day I do more sophisticated math in basic accounting spreadsheets than I do at the machines. But again like everything with machining, each shop will be different in their practices and requirements.

    I guess for a trainee, the best thing is to be familiar with what math could be involved and be ready to jump back into it when needed. You won't know exactly what you need until you get into the flow of your workplace. I never received formal training in machining but I have a science degree and the most valuable skill for machining that taught me is the ability to quickly find, learn, and even "un-learn" formulas and techniques as needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash728 View Post
    But it won't get you hired, call me salty but shops these days aren't interested in training anyone.
    I've trained up a lot of kids over the years. It will get you hired a lot faster in my shop than someone who comes in with a Voc school cert and wants to know when lunchtime and breaks are, and how many days off he gets in a year.

    Even a decent experienced machinist needs time to learn the parts. It takes a year for an experienced guy in my shop to get productive, he has to run every job two or three times to get fast on the setups. Short runs, quick turnarounds are the name of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flash728 View Post
    My most recent former employer had guys that were just operators for over 30 years and know nothing about anything else.
    That's the guy I don't want. The guy that has 3 pages of every machine he's ever run on his resume. He can't setup any of them.

    I like the guy who thinks like me. I don't care what machines you have- it's all pig iron to me. One machine is the same as the next, lathe or mill, manual or CNC- I don't care. Point me to the machine and give me a day to figure out the controls, and I'm off to the races. It's still going to take time for me to learn the parts, but you don't have to hold my hand the entire time.

    I don't have a place for an operator, I don't have enough long run jobs to make it worth the trouble and job shopping is too competitive to have someone wandering around with their thumb up you-know-where.

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