25 Replies Latest reply on Oct 3, 2017 2:16 PM by Austin Broeker

    I'm going to change courses in school.

    Eric Eubanks

      Solidworks just isn't for me. I'm not really liking sitting at a computer for so long. I keep falling asleep in class. I'm going to try something that lets me move around more. Also it's hard to use solidworks without any shop experience. I'm going to try cnc machining. Basic solidworks is one of the requirements for that course so my knowledge of solidworks will still be useful. I'll still work on solidworks until december because that's what I paid for.

       

      Has anyone tried cnc machining? Is there anything I should know about it?

       

      Thanks to everyone who has helped me with learning solidworks.

        • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
          Dave Dinius

          Don't get stuck in production. Learn to be a set-up guy then work your way into programming. SolidWorks can be used in programming a lot now so having knowledge of it really helps. I started out of high school when my dad asked me "you want to learn how to be a machinist?" I said sure and look at me now, giving sheet to college kids!

          • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
            Francisco Martínez

            For cnc machining I recommend find a program similar to this one here in Phx, AZ

             

            I also recommend taking classes for manual lathe and manual mill first.( most programs make you do this first , since it is the fundamentals of cnc machining)

             

            Precision Machining | GateWay

            CNC Machinist

            Certificate #1700 & 1705

            You will gain knowledge in reading blueprints and perform precision measurement. Learn to set up and operate manual mills, lathes and grinders. Learn to set up and operate Computer Numerical Control (CNC) lathes and mills. Develop skills maintaining manual and CNC machines. Industry certificates through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

            Mill Operator Level I

            You will receive an introduction and orientation to basic Computer Numeric Control (CNC) lathe machine concepts and programming to include setup and operation. Learn shop and basic safety. Required to pass NIMS CNC Lathe Testing Credential.

            Lathe Operator Level I

            You will receive an introduction and orientation to basic Computer Numeric Control (CNC) lathe machine concepts and programming to include setup and operation. Learn shop and basic safety. Required to pass NIMS CNC Lathe Testing Credential.

            ProgramNumberCompletion Time*Program Costs*
            CNC Machinist1700 (day) & 1705 (night) 900 hr | 10 mo/12 mo $6,815
            Mill Operator Level I**(day) & (night) 112 hr | 1 mo/2 mo $1,455
            Lathe Operator Level I**(day) & (night) 112 hr | 1 mo/2 mo $1,455
            • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
              Paul Risley

              Eric,

               

              For starters focus on the machining aspect not the cnc.

               

              Your instructors should give you good paths to follow to learn how to machine parts.

               

              1 pointer I give to you freely really and I mean really remember to add back the .100" for the edge finder.

              Also when working in the CNC area using an edge finder always remember to retract z prior to a rapid move, I have a little drawer in my toolbox that is full of little springs, I wasn't always diligent in my work.

               

              Seriously if you approach tooling and machining as you have approached this, with an open mind and an eagerness to listen and learn. You will go as far as you want to.

               

              Good luck on your future career.

              • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                Newell Voss

                cheer up, It gets better with time..

                Machinists, Setup/Operators, and programmers are all very different positions. CNC machining is really just a programmer. Granted you can make good money if you know how to implement macros to do your work for you but you will still be sitting at a computer all day...

                Machinists can be fun but limiting since so much is done now days via CNC. Setup guys get stuck doing all the busy work around the shop listening to the machines hum. It helps if you land a job doing design work alongside the shop that is manufacturing your projects. That way you can still get your hands dirty and learn DFM in the process. There is a reason they still require basic CAD courses whether you go into a technical trade/machinist program or full engineering degree.

                  • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                    Eric Eubanks

                    What would be a good career that I won't have to be at a computer all day for?

                      • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                        Paul Risley

                        Eric this all depends on where you go after college not so much on what you study in college. Since graduating with a degree in mechanical design I have worked as a Designer, project manger and now heading up a design department. As a designer 90% time on the computer as a project manager 50% on computer 50% on site layout and implementation.

                        Now as a head of design department 60% computer time the rest on the floor or at customers sites quoting projects developing relationships etc.

                         

                        On the machining side of things I have worked as a production machinist very rarely. I sought out companies that made complete projects so I would be challenged..Machine for a couple of days assemble and de-bug automated equipment.

                         

                        My point being the degree you get does not dictate what you do with it, going the route of machinist if you do not want to sit at a computer all day pick jobs where that is not what you will be doing and apply for those when you graduate.

                         

                        There are a lot of valid points here the machine shops are tightening down on quotes for direct parts. We have started moving away from doing them altogether. We focus more on complete projects which means we get to bring in machining, welding, grinding and assembly operations. Most of our floor employees are versed in at least 2 different disciplines so they can float to where the workload is.

                         

                        If you are looking for a career without sitting at a computer it is out there. You will just have to look for what suits you.

                         

                        Good luck.

                    • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                      Barry Morris

                      In present day and time a CNC machinist position isn't paying very well. I have been in the manufacturing and machining industry for 38 years. My current position is a Drafting Technician. I have my Tool & Die Makers Certification and years of hands on tooling design experience through a major automotive bearing manufacturer. With my personal experience I have found that the machining industry has become highly competitive on pricing and due to this fact everyone is trying to keep wages down just to stay in business. If you are more than 5% out of range with your quotes, you won't stay in business for long. If you think that sitting in front of a computer is boring, just waite until you spend eight hours a day loading and unloading machines, deburring parts, doing grunt work for $12 - $15 an hour for an unappreciative  shop owner that is always out fishing, hunting or playing golf while you are making him 2 1/2 times the money he is paying you. Most established shop already have setup and programming people. Unless you show exceptional talent it is hard to get into one of those positions. My advise is to look at what the industry is getting ready to experience and try to capitalize on it. In the next five to eight years approximately 75% of the Tool & Die Makers left in the US will be at retirement age. It takes approximately six years to get your apprenticeship accomplished. As a Tool & Die Maker you will become a rare commodity. When the last of the Jedi you become, seek you out they will............

                        • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                          Eric Eubanks

                          Does that depend on where you live? My school says the course has a 93% job placement and it pays better than that.

                            • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                              Francisco Martínez

                              I worked as a cnc setup operator for 4 different companies here in Arizona.

                              The starting pay was $15ph, that was for entry level basic operation(2008).

                              There are different levels of cnc operators, some just load and hit the button. The course you listed will allow you to do more than that, you should be able to be a setup operator. That is setting up the machine for a new job, you load programs, tools and vises/fixtures then you prove the job out by running the job and looking for errors. A setup cnc operator here in az is looking at $18-21ph from what I have seen and not including low ballers. Some companies are not worth your time, very low pay is a red flag.

                               

                              glass door is a ok reference for what technical jobs pay in your area, best way is to look at cnc operator postions in your area and look to see what they pay.

                              • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                Barry Morris

                                Yes it is dependent on where you live. Not all areas of the country are equal in manufacturing. Also, when in front of a computer it is recommended that you stand and stretch at least every 45 minutes. Long periods without movement can cause circulatory issues if you are not careful. If you get sleepy driving a car, is it wise to just keep driving? No! Same when working on designs. Your brain needs periodic breaks.

                            • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                              Christian Chu
                              Has anyone tried cnc machining? Is there anything I should know about it?

                              I guess the CNC course is alll about the G-code and import 3D model

                              What you need is how to pick the right tool for the path which needs to spend time in the manuf. floor to understand it

                              • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                Eric Eubanks

                                If I do decide to just stick with solidworks because I'll be at a computer all day anyway.

                                How do you stay awake during work? Sitting at a computer just makes me sleepy. Also I get distracted. Maybe it just shows that I don't have much of a passion for SW and need to change careers.

                                  • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                    Alin Vargatu

                                    Eric Eubanks wrote:

                                     

                                    If I do decide to just stick with solidworks because I'll be at a computer all day anyway.

                                    How do you stay awake during work? Sitting at a computer just makes me sleepy. Also I get distracted. Maybe it just shows that I don't have much of a passion for SW and need to change careers.

                                    SOLIDWORKS is just a tool. When you work with it, you are actually thinking about the product that you model, not about SOLIDWORKS.

                                    Making something with your own hands in a virtual universe is what gives most people satisfaction, not working with SOLIDWORKS.

                                     

                                    The other important thing to consider is that is very safe to fall asleep when working with SOLIDWORKS. The virtual machining operations in this virtual universe would not hurt you.

                                     

                                    For sleepy-heads, I suggest avoiding machining in the real-life, because if you fall asleep on a functioning lathe, you could get seriously hurt or worse!!!

                                    • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                      Craig Schultz

                                      Caffeine....it's a hell of a drug

                                      • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                        Austin Broeker

                                        I was in the same situation a few years ago, only I was half-way through getting my bachelor's in mechanical engineering when I started having this dilemma. Long story short, I ended up dropping out of college when I was about 75% of the way done and came back home. I wasn't sure what to do with my life since it seemed like engineering/design just wasn't going to work, so I decided that I needed to go in a completely different direction. I had always thought that becoming a cop seemed interesting, so that was my new plan. I got a job working at a local wood-truss plant as a general laborer in the meantime until I could get things figured out. After a few months, my girlfriend's uncle mentioned that his company was looking for an entry-level designer if I wanted to apply. I was this close to turning him down, but something (call it divine intervention, black magic, I don't know) made me change my mind and I'm glad it did. Now I work for a company that designs the same machines I used at the truss plant.

                                         

                                        At first, I still had trouble staying awake and staying focused when I was at work; the bossman even had to sit me down and have a discussion about it after a while (not one of my proudest moments). I felt like my biggest problem was that I would be awake one minute, then the next thing I know I was waking up after my head started to nod. I was told to go to the doctor and get myself checked out - I wish I could tell you the results from that, but the doctor never got back to me about what to do, so I never had any tests done.

                                         

                                        Now that I've been here for a little while, I actually enjoy my job and staying awake has gotten easier. For me, this change came as a result of a combination of things:

                                        1) I learned that the free coffee in the break room was my friend.

                                        2) I learned to recognize signs that I was about to doze off before it was too late, and prevent it by getting up, walking around, getting a drink, stretching, etc.

                                        3) When I first started here I was just making a bunch of minor changes to existing parts, which didn't seem all that fulfilling, so I tried looking at the big picture and how each of those changes, though small, was still improving the company overall. I also try to find something in every model/drawing I touch that can be improved so I can definitively say "I made it better". Work is much more rewarding when you can actually see the impact your actions have.

                                        4) Finding some good music to listen to while working helps me focus and makes those long days seem shorter.

                                        5) I like to make/build things. Decent modeling software can be a very powerful tool in helping with this, but it's also very expensive. My company is fine with me using Solidworks for personal things as long as it doesn't interfere with or jeopardize my work, so I use that to my advantage. Solidworks becomes much more enjoyable to learn and use when you can apply it to things you are directly interested in, plus it's a wonderful tool to have access to with 3D printers becoming so widely available and affordable.

                                        6) I got married and had a kid (I'm not actually suggesting that you do those things just based on advice from a guy on the Solidworks forum, just mentioning it in case those events are in your future). After that, going to bed at a reasonable hour got real easy real quick.

                                         

                                        I guess the moral of my ramblings is that just because it's hard to stay awake now doesn't necessarily mean that you're not cut out for the industry. Imagine something that you think would be cool to have that you could potentially make (or have made for you) and try designing it. For me, that's one of the best parts about my job - getting to form and test an idea in a virtual world and then seeing that idea brought to life. I'm currently in the middle of designing my own CNC machine and a leveling platform for my kid's pool in my spare time. Basically, the easiest way to learn Solidworks is to find a way to make it interesting to you. And if none of that works for you, then you can at least take solace in the fact that whichever direction you decide to go here is not necessarily a life sentence. Sure, it may be easier if you could choose the perfect path from the beginning, but nothing is stopping you from changing directions later on.

                                         

                                        I wish you good luck in whatever decision you end up making.

                                         

                                        -Austin

                                      • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                        David Matula

                                        Eric,

                                                 Falling asleep in class.....just that board with the class discussion or work or did you just get off work at 4am and have been up all night working...Shop experience has nothing to do with learning the program....I have like 0 shop experience when I got started...and what shop experience I do have is all theory on how I have seen shops work about like doing weldments with solidworks.  We are telling master craftsmen how to put crap together that we have no idea at all anything about their job and what it would take to get us a finished product.  Just about everyone out there has drawn the 1/2" hole and wanted to put a 1/2" dia bolt or stud in it...should fit could fit...but they don't when you get to the shop floor.....and we are called idiots..ect by the guys on the floor...

                                               Well a few revisions and a little education called on the job training....working with experienced designers and drafters....and getting around to knowing why we get redlines back from checkers and approvers so that the shop never learns how much we really do not know.......to where we get to turning in drawings that fly threw the approval process less someone fails to tell us of an important info for the design....

                                         

                                        back to that falling asleep in class less it is a work or social related issue...id go get checked by a Dr.  The other two issues the work will end up working itself out when you settle down into one job...what ever you decided on.  If it happens to be social related time to wake up and decided if the social life is what you want or the education.....

                                          • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                            Barry Morris

                                            Sounds like you got your head wrapped around how to survive in this atmosphere very well. What you have pointed out is something I have tried to stress to many young engineers I have had to work with in the machine shop and in the office over the years. When you enter your job field, take the first few years and humble yourself and ask questions and seek advise from senior personnel around you. If you show genuine interest in what they have to offer, you will be surprised how willing they will be to help you. There is nothing worse than trying to deal with a cocky, arrogant newby that thinks that just because he or she has a degree that they know everything. My mom always told me that you could catch more flies with a little sugar than vinegar. 

                                          • Re: I'm going to change courses in school.
                                            David Matula

                                            Anyone out there notice that it is harder to keep your eyes open and concentrating on the task at hand after a big lunch?  I find that after a big sit down lunch that an hour or two after I was getting the nods....nothing like some fresh air cup of back java to pick you up but still have that drowsy feeling till it is time to clock off....

                                               Learning this about my self that eating makes me sleepy I cut back on the lunch time snacks..

                                            At one of the places I worked they promoted a guy from the shop that had gone to night school to learn how to draft....in a few weeks....he had gained 50lbs.  Out of habit he kept eating the same at lunch as he did when he was working in an active position in the shop, as he was not burning the calories...his body stored em up.  He started to skip eating for lunch and started walking till he got his weight back down.....

                                                Getting that good nights sleep is kind of important but also learning the other triggers of the drowsiness that we end up with in the afternoon we can try to counteract it.