What goes on at a machine shop is likely a question few have pondered. When you buy a box of nails you likely never stop to consider how those nails came to be and who are the people who make them. It’s not a mystery, and, in fact, machine shops are busy places, filled with skilled workers, who like to spend their days making things that help the world go round–or at least, as one example, keep rotors rotating.
Generally speaking, our work involves cutting parts from various materials such as metal or plastic, to make a finished product as specified by our customers. But getting from a customer’s wishes laid out in a blueprint to that completed product takes several machines and people to make them run efficiently and effectively.
The machines Northwest Machine Works uses are CNC or Computer Numerical Control meaning a computer operates our machines through a pre-set code created by a person. The numerical code tells the machine and cutting tools what to do, and where and when to do it. While the machine does the heavy lift of cutting, turning, and finishing the parts, a perfect part depends on the instructions given by the CNC Setup Machinist. If the instructions aren’t right the machine will not produce the desired part. This is why we are always on the lookout for good machinists who are skilled at machining as well as coding.
Setup Machinists and Operators
In our case, we need both vertical and horizontal mill as well as lathe setup machinists. Each reviews part prints, job requirements, and setup sheets to get the machine set up. They read, write, and edit both G and M code and set tooling and the workpiece so everything goes as planned. They also complete inspections at every step of the way to ensure the parts meet print. The setup machinists then hand off the machine to the CNC operators.
The job of the operators is more than just hitting the go button on the lathe or mill though, as these employees troubleshoot problems that occur during the process, monitor progress, tooling, and complete in-process inspections. Our operators are always learning and progressing their setup and machine control skills to help grow and progress as machinists.
Consider a Job as A Machinist
There are some great certification and training programs at community colleges, and any on-the-job training or apprenticeships help build skills. Overall, machinists need to be good at math, have a basic understanding of tooling and machines, have the ability to read blueprints, and, if you’re working for us, have a strong sense of customer service and the desire to have some fun. This is a career with a positive future since technologies in fields like electronics and automation are advancing at a quick pace. You could be working on the cutting edge of technology and mechanical innovation!
The machinists are just some of the people who make up our team. We’re busy, and no two days are ever alike, but if non-stop action, variety, and that feeling of accomplishment for creating something out of nothing are appealing, check out what a job as a machinist can do for you. And contact us if you’re ready for a new job.