What Are the Different Types of Machinist Training?

Lori Kilchermann

Machinist training covers a wide variety of different machines and functions, from grinding and milling to operating lathes. Different levels of machinist training can also include computer-assisted operation and programming in the case of computer numerical control (CNC) machines. CNC training commonly involves the use of computer software to set up, run and adjust the machine. Most types of machinist training also include education in reading precise measuring instruments, as well as figuring extensive mathematical equations. From lathe setup and operation to the many types of surface and interior grinding operations, the machinist is educated in metallurgy, the dynamics of applied heat to metal and maintenance of the different machines found in a basic machine shop.

CNC machinists often have an extensive background in computer programming.
CNC machinists often have an extensive background in computer programming.

Individuals seeking machinist training typically need not have a college degree. A high school education is usually all that is required to enter a training program. This is not to insinuate that machinist training is not difficult, as complex mathematical equations, metallurgy and dynamics are all ares of study included in the training program. There are also different areas of focus intended to better educate a prospective machinist to operate a particular type of machine. Machine shop basics such as using a lathe, milling machine and grinder are core classes for the future machinists.

Machinist training may include working with power tools such as a drill.
Machinist training may include working with power tools such as a drill.

The modern machinist must not only be educated in the various stages of metal working, she must also be proficient in computer programing and various computer programing materials. The CNC type lathes, milling machines and grinders are all variations of the basic tool, however, the adjustments and even the initial programing is done on a computer keyboard. Students are educated on the ways of making adjustments to the CNC machine by entering a specific code via the keyboard. Gone are the days of making manual adjustments to a cutting tool or speed control. The machinist remains, however, the final inspector as to a part's dimensions, finish and quality, so quality control education is also required of all machinist hopefuls.

The majority of machinist training courses are concentrated on reading measuring devices. With most machining projects being mandated to fall within a specific tolerance, the machinist training focuses much attention on this much-needed skill. Aside from basic machine operation and safety, some training in the different types of steel and the methods used to identify them are core machinist training ideals. One such test required to graduate successfully from many machinist training courses is the ability to identify a type of steel from the type of sparks it makes when held against a grinding wheel.

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