Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines are used in most machinist shops and mass production facilities today to increase accuracy and efficiency when forming metal, plastics and wooden parts. A CNC programmer’s job is to input detailed instructions into a CNC machine's computer system to control robotic arms and tools that perform these precision machining jobs.
Before designing a new programme, a CNC programmer will study blueprints, make adjustments using computer-aided drafting (CAD) software simulators, and calibrate robotic equipment. The programmer can then enter an extensive series of numerical codes that will eventually control the movements of the machine. In addition to programming the software, the programmer also has to establish the most efficient ways to cut, weld, and bore the raw materials as well as setting the exact dimensions of the item to be worked on.
In order to ensure the correct sequence of codes is entered into a CNC machine, a programmer needs to test run the programme a few times to make sure it works correctly and to iron out discrepancies between the test products and CAD blueprint specifications. The mass production of an item can only begin once a programme has been installed code across a number of machines.
CNC programmers working in high precision environments such as the aerospace industry study the technology to university level on courses such as mechanical engineering, while others hold certificates from vocational or technical colleges and also participate in ongoing training throughout their career. After gaining a few years of experience in the industry, some CNC machine operators also choose to become CNC programmers through apprenticeships, working under supervision with different kinds of programmes and machines and gradually taking on more responsibility until they have the skills to work independently on new programmes and equipment.
CNC programmers also upgrade their skills and qualifications to improve their value to the industry, some elect to take certification courses offered by accredited national or regional organizations and most CNC programmers also attend seminars and follow industry journals to stay updated with new technological innovations and techniques being applied to programming.