Numerical Tool and Process Control Programmers Job Descripti

Automation is making manufacturing more efficient
while increasing productivity. Some of the credit for this goes to numerical tool and
process control programmers. These professionals write the programs for computer-controlled
machine tools, or robots, that cut and shape parts made of metal or plastic. The programmer
writes the code that enables a computer to tell the machine which tools to use and how
to use them. The programmer may write a program for an entire system of machines, or for one
particular piece of equipment. He or she reviews the job specifications and draws up an efficient
operating plan for the machines that will produce the parts. This involves plotting
reference points, cutting paths and hole locations. It requires computing geometrical dimensions,
such as angles and curves. The patterns are tested for maximum tool speed, efficiency
and accuracy before the programmer enters the coordinates into a program. Then the program
is tested some more, on trial runs. The machines must function to extremely exacting standards,
with specifications often measured in microns. A micron is 40 millionths of an inch! The
program must allow the machine operator to make minute adjustments by entering commands
during the production process — commands that will effectively allow the machine to
adjust itself. Employers look for a college degree with strong math and computer skills
and usually provide on-the-job training with experienced programmers. Although it may seem
like this occupation is designed to make other jobs obsolete, in many ways it represents
Man’s real power over Machines.

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