CNC Machine Personalities

Computer Numerical Controls (CNC)

Computer Numerical Controls (CNC) (Photo credit: wistechcolleges)

As CNC machine operators/machinists, technicians, even button-pushers, we’re a breed apart.   As I stated previously in an article dedicated to CNC shop management and ownership issues, “We tend to be gear heads, persons interested in how things work, passionate about our trade and our skills…”.

We are passionate about what we do and how we do it.  There may be more than one way to skin a cat (or knock out that spindle replacement), and  you’ll certainly find most of us willingly acknowledging this…right before continuing to show you the best way.  We sure as heck are not afraid to get our hands dirty or to attempt new solutions to old problems.

Just like the machines and materials we work with on a daily basis, we come in all shapes and sizes and personality types: some of us smooth around the edges, others a little rough but still full of character.  Some of us are a bit older and seasoned, much like that old used CNC machine that may have a bit o’ grey but runs like a workhorse.

HaasPlus.com: 5 Types of CNC Machine Personalities

The HaasPlus.com blog has a fun post touching on the different makes and models that comprise the people in our industry.  From the “Perfectionist”, “Energizer Bunny”, to the “CNC DIY enthusiast” they cover any number of the personality types I’ve encountered over the years.  Take a look and see if you recognize yourself.

One of my favorites: The Teacher.  The Teacher is an instrumental figure in the lives of those just starting out.  Patient and willing to instruct while never just giving you the answer, thereby allowing those fresh on the block to truly learn and understand their trade.  They realize they could just program that g-code for you but understand it’s better for you to do it yourself, to train your mind to think logically and muscle through.  The Teacher was instrumental in my life and I’ve seen it time and again with regard to others.

Your Turn

How about you?  As the HaasPlus.com blog post asks, did they miss any personality types?  Where do you fit in?

CNC Machine Manufacturing: The News Just Keeps Getting Better

plasma cutting with a cnc machine

plasma cutting with a cnc machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a number of occasions I’ve pointed to specific articles highlighting the potential growth of US and specifically, CNC machine,  manufacturing  in the near future.  You may recall this article about GE and the in-sourcing boom, this article about manufacturing in the Silicon Valley, and this Wall Street Journal article centered around advanced manufacturing.

Never fearful of good, heartening news, I came across another optimistic juicer that I’d like to share today as well.

Comeback: Why the US Sits at the Brink of a New Boom

Your CNC Machine Future

 

Between the growth in newer technologies like 3d printing, the energy boom, and signs pointing to companies bringing their manufacturing  back to America, it seems we’re sizing up for a manufacturing rebirth here in the US.  That is good news for those of us in the CNC machining industry.  Whether you own your own shop outfitted with a rag-tag mix of new or used CNC machines, or you’re managing a crew for a large manufacturer, the time to prepare is now.

Don’t get left behind and find yourself scrambling to update those used CNC machines: take an inventory of needed repairs, upgrades, and replacements, and get those replacement parts ordered.

Shop in disarray?  No better time than now to take a look at your shop layout and workflow.  Can things be better organized?  Are you wasting valuable time in your process due to poor layout?  Streamline your workflow now.

What type of work are you equipped to do?  Do you have the ability to branch out, take on new clients and expand your production?  What are these articles pointing to?  Is it plausible to branch out into 3d printing?  Do you have the skills and expertise on hand to make these types of transitions?

These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking my own self as I keep my sight on the future of CNC manufacturing and what I can do to continue to expand and grow.

Your Turn

While it’s easy to get caught up with buzz words and hype, we certainly need to tread carefully.  The news that continues to come in definitely points to better days ahead.  I’m not one to advocate foolishness, but I also don’t like to be blind-sided either.  Whether the manufacturing news is all hype, or good tidings of things to come, planning and preparation, maintenance and upkeep, will only serve you and your company for the better.  So what do you think:  is now the time to invest in new CNC machines and equipment, to prep our shops for a potential influx of business, or is it best to hold steady for the time being and see how things pan out?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

CNC Machine Manufacturing & the Future: Part Duex

The other day I shot out a post highlighting a few thoughts about the future of CNC machine manufacturing and the growing 3d printing movement.  I’d like to add to that a bit here today as I came across a couple of articles that build and expand on those thoughts (thanks to the forum users over at Practical Machinist for sharing these links).

For the CNC Machine Operators:

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Le...

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Leonhard Building at Penn State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the main thrust of my post the other day centered on 3D printing as playing a greater, if not massive part, in the future of manufacturing, there is still plenty of good news for those of us still wedded to our “ancient” technologies.

Silicon Valley Mercury News:  This article highlights the results from the report “The Hidden STEM Economy”. It states that degrees are not required for  27-36% of all jobs in science, engineering, technology, and math within the greater San Jose, San Francisco and bay area.  While I think living in some of these locations may financially eat away at the incentives, this is still an interesting read and hopefully signals a growing trend here in the states.

From the article: “The report urges policymakers to boost funding for training in such careers as tool making, technical writing and technician work — the critical pick-and-shovel brigades in tech’s gold rush.”.

Glad to see that tool making was first on that list!

 

Digital Manufacturing and 3D Printing

English: Example of replication of a real obje...

English: Example of replication of a real object by means of 3D scanning and 3D printing. The gargoyle model on the left was digitally acquired by using a 3D scanner and the produced 3D data was processed using MeshLab. The resulting digital 3D model, shown in the screen of the laptop, was used by a rapid prototyping machine to create a real resin replica of original object. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time to take that DIY CNC hobby to the next level and begin applying your chops to 3D printing folks.  Mixed feelings about this article.  While I’m in awe of the technological advancement, and see a place for CNC machine operators and the like in this mix, it does fill me with some trepidation.

No technological, and especially manufacturing, advancement comes without costs.  No easy road here.

Now if I were a young CNC hobbiest or 3D printing guru, I’d be pointing my sights toward building on those skills.   The landscape is always changing, and sometimes it’s a swift transition; the manufacturing world looks ready for a huge shift.  Don’t be caught unawares.

The Wall Street Journal: A Revolution in the Making 

 

Your Turn:

So, what are your thoughts?  Is CNC machining poised for a rebirth of sorts and an elevated place in our future, or is 3d printing graduating from diy hobby and sporadic manufacturing implementation to full-fledged wide-scale production and machining replacement?  Or is the future something more balanced like these articles seem to suggest, a place where 3D printing and CNC machining both have their places in a stable manufacturing economy?  Let me know in the comments!