Is there value in manual machining anymore?

K.N.'s picture
MSC Administrator
Is there value in manual machining anymore?

In a recent article we asked manufacturing professionals and instructors from different regions if manual machining is being taught to the incoming generation of machinists.

As automation becomes more and more central to manufacturing, technological skills do play a leading role. But there are dynamics between physical part-making, a machine’s capabilities, and programming and modeling software that still require an understanding of manual practices. 

Technical colleges, four-year degree programs and manufacturers themselves are keen to adapt—but they are also still grounded in today’s reality: People are still at the heart of manufacturing. The demand for a skilled workforce requires a hybrid set of technology skills including machine programming and critical knowledge of part-making inside a machine.

Do you thinking the incoming workforce should be trained on manual machining?


Absolutely!  During my career as a machine shop manager, I hired many very good graduates, in the machine trades, from our local Vocational School.  They were well based academically and sharp young trainees but many were lacking the practical knowledge of tooling capabilities and speeds and feeds needed for machining today's materials and types of various cutting tools.  One day I heard a tool break, on a CNC operation and the subsequent squeal of the broken tool on successive parts after the tool had broken.  I questioned the young operator to look at his last several completed parts and to his amazement there was only a scar where a hole should have been and sure enough the fourth part back had a broken drill in it.  I was asked "How did I know"?  I explained that machining is not only knowing programming and machine and tool setup but being able to hear, feel, and examine parts as they are machined.  I never experienced an episode, such as this, with this young man after.  He was an extremely intelligent and diligent, academically trained young man.  All he needed was practical guidance!


That is another great reason and couldn't have been said better.


Yes, Apprentices still need to be trained to use Manual Mills. 1. Techniques that are automated on a CNC are better understood. 2. There are times when a quick small task can be done more efficiently and more quickly while the bigger jobs are running on the CNC's. We still have 3 Manual Mills for just such tasks.


In today's world machinists need to know milling, turning and other knowedges. To turn out a fully trained machinist, not just an operator, takes the better part of four years; math, programming,tools, metalurgy and more. In my opinion they deserve the same respect as a 4 year BS grad. What do the rest of you think?


The manual machines are definately still needed in our shops today. Sometimes a quick face and hole pop in a lathe, and saw cut material quite often needs to have a couple parallel edges (easy and quick in a minual mill) before being grabbed in a vise of a machining center. They are also quite usefull for apprentices to get a feel for cutting speeds/feeds as they develop their programming skills in CadCam for machining in the CNC's. 


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