Machinist


Those working in the robotics industry usually are given a special respect by those people who know them. Maybe because they are perceived to be using complex mathematical coefficients or doing some ultra high complex programs that would enable robots to transform to a car or something of that sort. This may be true as those dealing with robots needs to be really good in higher mathematics, physics, programming, mechanical and electrical engineering and other skills that would understand rocket science literally and figuratively.
However, there is one profession that is essential in the field of robotics without a doctorate and that is the good old Machinist.
A Machinist is the guy who makes use of machine tools to fabricate or modify parts, usually those parts made of metal. After the engineers have finished the blueprint of let’s say, a prototype robot design, the drawing will be then forwarded to a Machinist who will fabricate the parts specified in the blueprint. Being able to understand the blueprint alone already requires a bit of knowledge of engineering concepts and execute them precisely and exactly as written on paper.

Apart from preciseness of execution, a certain level of knowledge in metals is needed as different kinds of metals have different properties hence needed to be treated differently. Metals commonly a Machinist would usually be working on would be steel, aluminum, brass, copper and alloys derived from these metals. Vanadium, zinc, lead and manganese are less common materials but some important alloys are from these metals so a working knowledge on alloying would come in handy. However in robotics, uncommon metals like titanium, chromium, molybdenum, tungsten and special alloys like Inconel and Hastelloy (also sometimes called the superalloys) would be expected to be more heavily used as the robots would be special machines and thus needs to be made of sterner stuff. A Machinist would also be asked to repair machine tools and maintain industrial machines as well. To effectively carry out fabrication and repair parts and machines, the Machinist should be somewhat calculating and should be comfortable with instruments like a micrometer, dial caliper, hermaphrodite caliper and a Vernier caliper. Effectively use dial indicators, planer gauges, ring gauges and telescoping gauges for monitoring, inspecting and testing purposes. Fabrication would entail extensive knowledge of crankshaft grinders, sharpeners and surface grinders and as well as drum lathes, engine lathes, flywheel lathes and turning lathes. Apart from the simple tools (meaning no built-in software), machinists should also be acquainted with computerized numerical control machines called CNC in machinists’ parlance. With all the machines the Machinist operates, most likely, it would also be his responsibility to care and maintain these machines. Another thing that should be inherent to Machinists is a good listening and comprehension skill. Before the Machinist executes the details in the blueprint, the design engineers may need to stress some points or give additional instructions.

Opportunities for Machinists in the field of robotics are ever increasing. Right now, almost every industry uses robots/machines in production, assembly and packaging and maintenance and repair of these expensive machines of course would be their department. At present, a lot of companies specializing in robotics are opening up like mushrooms and for sure services of Machinists would be very much in high demand.