Computer numerically controlled equipment is now standard in many manufacturing industries. CNC machines provide an efficient solution for factories and can be used to manufacture product batches that range from a single item to several thousand at a time.
The scope and application of CNC machinery is vast, and includes everything from milling machines, lathes and spindles, to sophisticated solutions used in the aerospace and automotive industries. The employment opportunities for skilled CNC operators in the UK are therefore diverse and extensive. Operators are employed by various companies to oversee the use of all CNC equipment and set up CNC machinery for production runs. They also ensure the CNC machines are working efficiently with their assigned programme and that the necessary tools are installed to complete a given task in the production process effectively.
CNC programmers are in great demand as their skills contribute significantly to the overall efficiency of the equipment and therefore the quality of the product run as a whole. The best programmers have a full understanding of the software and the mathematics behind particular CNC systems and can therefore apply employ critical thinking to troubleshoot and solve problems as they occur. CNC programmers are required to continually update their knowledge of new technology and may be called upon to train other members of the production team. Time management skills are therefore essential, along with an ability to respond swiftly to tasks in order to prevent any disruption to tight production schedules.
Many employers provide on-the-job training for their CNC operators, programmers and maintenance personnel but formal training is required for senior positions, either at university level or through apprenticeships or vocational education courses. Those looking for a career in CNC, whether as operators or programmers will need a range skills that includes elements such as software programming, metalworking, blueprint reading, drafting and mathematics.
Most individuals seeking certification in CNC programming already have a basic knowledge of computers, electronics, and machine tools, and many have previously worked in machine shops Continuing education is also an important part of the job as CNC technology is continually evolving and changing to match the demands of the industries in which the equipment is used.