CNC Machinist

Are there any CNC machinist here? I’m curious of what, if any skills we aquire playing with these DIY cnc’s are relatable to an actual CNC machinist profession? Does a machinist running a HAAS (for example) modify g-code or is all that generated by the design engineer?

I don’t claim to be a full-fledged machinist but have a friend with an automotive machine shop who bought a CNC milling machine about 20+ years ago that I got to play with and make some motorcycle parts on. He’d bought software called MasterCAM which at the time was a $5K program for level I. I’d say the skills learned on these homebrew machines are very relatable, the biggest difference probably being the rigidity offered by the hundreds of pounds of cast iron of a commercial machine allowing bigger cuts at higher speeds but the process is the same, draw the part and the software writes the G-code. For me, the most important thing to learn was that the machine will do exactly what you told it to do, NOT what you think you told it to do. As competent as the software may be it can’t think, it’s up to the user to do that. And some of the software available for free or very low $$$ these days is likely more capable than that which was thousands years ago.

Don’t sell the DIY cncs short, look through the ‘Things You’ve Made’ part of the forum and you’ll see some remarkable work produced by these DIY machines.


I hope an actual digital machinist (cnc operator? IDK the right title) chimes in.

I “know” some professional 3D printer operators, and they get the 3D model and do the CAM/slicer. I think the CAM and running the machine are very coupled. The machine will give feedback about what it is doing and what settings should be adjusted in CAM. The operator has to be the one doing the CAM (unless they are in a tight team with great communication and sr/jr operators).

There is probably some overlap with the rest of the machine shop too. There are probably a lot of machine shops that have a CNC they use when appropriate. The operator also maintains all the machines, operates the lathe, mill, bandsaw and cnc machine.


Working with robots where I’m employed I always tell new folks when training them, read the instructions line by line. The robot will do exactly what you want it to but YOU have to tell it, and it’s going to take the quickest route to wherever you tell it to go, whether that’s through a fixture or a guard, the robot doesn’t care.