Join Kipp Bradford for an in-depth discussion in this video What does the job look like?, part of Skilled Trades: Manufacturing Careers.
- Once you land a job, you might be wondering what are some of the common tasks you'll perform. - Going to your machine in the morning, you'll turn it on. You're going to make sure your machine is calibrated. So calibrate your machine, run a test part, everything runs good, you'll be in charge of making sure that the parts that come out of that machine are to specification. - Well, you'll spend some time planning, which means studying engineering plans, drawing some CAD files that you'll use to set up the machines. - The first thing you do is you get your blueprint. Confer with the engineering staff of exactly what they want, and make a plan. You have to start out with a basic piece of metal, or a block of plastic or whatever it is, and you have to know where to go, whether you're going to bring it to the milling machine, the lathe, the surface grinder. Regardless of how complex the part looks initially, then if you have a good plan, I tell my students that they make a plan. Before you take off making a part, make a plan. It works that way. - Then you have to make sure that the machine itself is ready, involving small adjustments to ensure precision and accuracy. - Everyday I come in, I make sure I have my safety glass on. I went to my work station, and looking what's going on, what the job needs to be done, which one applies to the job, and look at them, I grab the job. Sometimes I do the lapping first, some jobs need marking or detailing, it depends how a job needs to be done. - Programming machines and verifying that the parts match the parts to be fabricated is a key next step. - The G-code is what tells the machine all of the movements and tool changes that it needs to make to make what you've done. Things have to be done in a certain order, so the person who's running the machine has to be able to understand what's going on with the code. Not everything that comes out of a code generator works best the first time, and so there's a tremendous amount of problem solving that can be involved in getting things running right the first time. - You'll load the machines with stock like plastic or metal, you'll verify that the machine is set up. - Abracadabra, you get this part, you put it on the machine, you do a few little taps with magic wands, which happens to be whatever bit you have in the machine, whether it's a fly bit or a milling bit, or a facing bit, and a little by little, you turn that piece of kind of four planes into some kind of a usable object. - You'll also ensure the safe operation of the machines and related equipment. - So I learned that I'm not going to be able to be Beyonce in the machinist world. No long sleeves, no jewelry. We really can't be in here with anything. No long extensions that can get pulled in by the machine or anything like that. We want to make sure that we're safe, and our peers are safe, people that are working around us are safe. So if we're turning something on, and it's spitting out chips, kind of like try to protect our neighbor by putting up some shields like you see here, and things like that. Basically just being conscious that once you turn this machine on, you're responsible not only for yourself, but for people who are around you. The eye protection is definitely a must. The eye protection, in order to be approved, has to be a Z87. That just means that it can withstand being shot like by a nail gun, if I'm not mistaken. Very important, because these chips fly. I've had a chip pop and fall down my shirt. I had to air it out real quick, but you get kind of used to it. When you're dealing with these machines, you know you're going to get a little messed up here and there, but it's not too much like a, nothing more than getting burned with the curling iron, I'll say. (laughs) - Finally, like all machines, things will break. So part of your job is performing machine maintenance and repairs. - People don't know how to run the equipment that we have in the shop. People don't know how to fix the 3D printers. People don't know how to run the Tourmacs. There's all this technology and innovation to bring business and practices forward, but if no one knows how to use them, then it doesn't do any good. We're here and we have the opportunity to really go deep with what we're interested in, and we can fill those roles. So when your printer doesn't work, I know how to fix it. If you had a product you wanted to make, I would be able to probably pretty quickly determine if it was something that could be milled, or if it should be injected-molded, and to help advise those business decisions.