There are a lot of jobs where you can start without experience and learn on the job through on-the-job training. CNC programming is not one of them. CNC machines are state-of-the-art machines that cut, press, drill and shape materials of all kinds. The on-board computers and built-in software takes months, even years, to learn how to use. For that reason, you are better off taking CNC programming courses to learn CNC programming. Here are some more reasons why.
There Are Numerous Settings for Every Material
Most CNC machines are used for machining metals, but they can also be used for plastic and wood. As such, there are numerous settings for EACH material, and additional settings for thickness and size of the piece of material on the cutting plate. Additionally, there are even more settings to select for each machining tool and/or process. You have literally thousands of commands at your fingertips when you operate one of these machines, and there is no way to learn them all by just watching another machinist do the work.
Custom Jobs Require You to Know How to Input Special Programming
If you work as a machinist and your boss asks you to do a custom job for a customer, you have to know how to best carry out that custom job. That means you really have to know what your CNC machine can do, inside and out, and create a very special program on the screen that will direct your machine to do exactly as the customer requests. These kinds of projects take highly trained and highly experienced CNC machinists to complete, not someone who is on the job for a few months to a year, or someone without extensive CNC programming courses under his/her belt.
You Have to Understand the Codes and "Language" of CNC Machines
Just like other high-tech jobs, there is a "language" to CNC machines that is uniquely their own. Many symbols, numbers and letters all stand for machining tasks, and you have to be able to use them to program the machine. It is a sort of "shorthand" writing method that gives pre-programmed commands to the machine. If you are doing a custom job, you have to write the code in such a way as to change or alter some commands to fit the task or job at hand. At no time is a CNC machine on complete auto-pilot, even though its operations make it look like it is.
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