Without the CNC programmer, any modern plastic injection mold making operation grinds to a complete stop-quickly! Just consider for a moment just how many machines use the CNC programmer….
The CNC programmer might work on programming a 5-axis CNC milling machine, WEDM machine, CNC EDM sinker, laser cutting machine, CNC lathe, and more. He also might be responsible for the programming of electrodes for the EDM machine, among other things.
A CNC programmer needs to understand nearly every aspect of plastic injection mold making to be truly efficient. In fact, most CNC programmers have extensive practical experience in the shop. Many apprentices who show an inclination for programming end up as a CNC programmer.
Most injection mold making shops have CNC programmer jobs available at almost any given time. This is especially true for someone with Fadal CNC experience, CNC engraving experience, or is competent with CNC CAD CAM programming.
What about the pay?
Generally, most CNC programmer jobs pay similarly to that of a plastic injection mold maker. This is true unless the CNC programmer lacks the hands on practical experience from working in the shop. A technical school graduate will find it easier to get the job, but the pay may be less to begin with than that of an apprentice mold maker who becomes a CNC programmer.
How do you become a CNC programmer?
Basically, there are two routes to take. One is to become an injection mold making apprentice, with the understanding that your main interest is in CNC CAD CAM programming. Over time you will be steered more and more in the direction of CNC programming.
The other route is to take a course designed specifically to learn the skills required to get one of the CNC programmer jobs you are hoping to win. Some technical colleges offer courses; as well as community colleges and universities. This path can land you a job more quickly because you already are partially trained and can begin producing for the company quickly.
One path is not necessarily better than the other in the long run though.
What is a typical day like for a CNC programmer?
Obviously, a greater part of your day is in front of a computer monitor. There are also many times when you will need to be at one of the many machine tools you are programming. This variety can provide a welcome respite from sitting all day in front of a computer screen.
You also will be communicating with the various machine operators, mold designers and the mold makers. The work of a CNC programmer touches almost every aspect of the entire mold making process. This can make you a hero, or a villain!