The rise of the machines is well and truly upon us. For decades now, machines have been introduced to tasks that were previously reserved for people. But before you start having Terminator-esque nightmares, you needn’t worry. CNC programming still requires real, live humans to code, and then operate the machines. For now…
What is CNC programming?
Computer Numerical Control, or CNC is a programming system which instructs machines to do a number of tasks, including cutting materials and producing parts. Since the 50’s, this kind of technology has been around to make life easier for manufacturers. Since the early 2000’s, the field has seen some huge advances. CNC programmers are those who create the programs which these machines need to operate. Once these programs are written, the operator of the machine can simply download the relevant program and use it to operate their machine.
Why is CNC programming a great thing?
There’s no denying that one area machines excel in, over the human race, is accuracy. CNC programming means that machines can create parts with extremely accurate dimensions. Not only is this excellent for creating perfect parts, but it’s also much quicker and safer. Increased productivity and reduced OH&S issues are a manufacturer’s dream.
Why should I learn CNC programming?
As technological advances change the nature of manufacturing around the world, manufacturing jobs will also need to change. Just as the IT industry is growing exponentially, so too are jobs related to programming in traditionally labour-intensive industries. Jobs in manufacturing are increasingly geared towards automation, and there is an increasing demand for these kinds of skills. As traditional vocations are starting to disappear in many industries, emerging jobs such as these are the key to ensuring your job doesn’t go the way of the dodo. If you’re considering a new career, or are just leaving school and contemplating your options – CNC programming is something worth thinking about!
How do I learn CNC programming?
As CNC-operated machinery becomes more popular, so too do the training courses. Despite this, there is still a serious shortage of qualified individuals in the field. The demand for CNC programmers is high, and is only growing—whereas traditional trade jobs are beginning to disappear. There are a range of providers (including TAFE) which provide CNC programming courses, starting from single courses (which can be completed in a few weeks) to certificate and diploma-level courses in engineering.
There are also a range of online training courses and guides, as well as books that you can buy to begin learning CNC programming. These may be a good way to begin, if you’re not sure whether CNC programming is going to interest you (or perhaps boggle your mind).
Generally, employers will require you to be trade-qualified, so the CNC programming career is well suited to existing tradies, who are looking to learn a new skill for the future.
Are there other options in the CNC field?
CNC operators are also in high demand. With fairly simple training, you can learn to operate a CNC machine, and incorporate this skill into your existing list of qualifications. You may find that many trades incorporate CNC machines into their workplaces, and you will pick up basic operating skills on the job (for example, the automotive and woodworking industries are embracing CNC machines). You might consider learning to become a CNC operator, before beginning studies in the programming area, to increase your prospects in the rapidly changing job market.
If you’re considering learning to operate CNC machinery to take your metal, plastic or woodworking hobby to new heights – take a look at our article The Basics: How to Operate a CNC Machine.