Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers

This occupation has now been updated to Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers

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Also known as:
CAD CAM Programmer (Computer-Aided Design Computer-Aided Manufacturing Programmer), Computer Numerical Control Machinist (CNC Machinist), Computer Numerical Control Programmer (CNC Programmer), Programmer

ABOUT METAL OR PLASTIC COMPUTER NUMERICALLY CONTROLLED MACHINE TOOL PROGRAMMER CAREERS
Video transcript

Automation is making manufacturing more efficient while increasing productivity. Some of the credit for this goes to numerical tool and process control programmers. These professionals write the programs for computer-controlled machine tools, or robots, that cut and shape parts made of metal or plastic.

The programmer writes the code that enables a computer to tell the machine which tools to use and how to use them. The programmer may write a program for an entire system of machines, or for one particular piece of equipment. He or she reviews the job specifications and draws up an efficient operating plan for the machines that will produce the parts.

This involves plotting reference points, cutting paths and hole locations. It requires computing geometrical dimensions, such as angles and curves. The patterns are tested for maximum tool speed, efficiency, and accuracy before the programmer enters the coordinates into a program. Then the program is tested some more, on trial runs.

The machines must function to extremely exacting standards, with specifications often measured in microns. A micron is 40 millionths of an inch. The program must allow the machine operator to make minute adjustments by entering commands during the production process - commands that will effectively allow the machine to adjust itself.

Employers look for a college degree with strong math and computer skills and usually provide on-the-job training with experienced programmers. Although it may seem like this occupation is designed to make other jobs obsolete, in many ways it represents man's real power over machines.

SNAPSHOT
Develop programs to control machining or processing of materials by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems. May also set up, operate, or maintain equipment.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
LOW
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
MAIN ACTIVITIES
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
KEY ABILITIES
Perceptual Speed The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
Near Vision The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Information Ordering The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Mathematical Reasoning The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Visualization The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Selective Attention The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
TOP SKILLS
Programming Writing computer programs for various purposes.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Systems Analysis Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.