Machinists use tools to create objects out of metal. This may involve machines to cut, sculpt, bend, and fold metal as well as equipment to affix to pieces of metal together. Any well-stocked machine shop will have the same tools—lathes, welders, cutting torches, etc. The difference from one machine shop to another depends on how the machines are operated. There are three main options: human-operated, computers attached to a machine, and machines attached to a computer. Each option serves a purpose and might be a good choice depending on the type of work you need done.
Humans can get highly skilled in their ability to use machines in a shop. Well-designed machines will help to create very intricate designs, but even a well-trained human operator will create slight difference in their work especially if they are making the same object over and over. Thus, if you need a part for a motor you are building, a shift knob, a prototype, or any other unique object, you should be able to trust a human operator, but if you need precision and consistency, you should turn to computer operated machines.
Computers Connected to Machines
Most machine shops will have computer network controlled, or CNC, machines. While you have multiple machines connected to a computer network, the network only works one way. In other words, an operator will enter a design which is then pushed to the machines. Each machine receives commands—the lathe sculpts, the jig bends, the cutter cuts, etc. While a correct design should yield the same results time and again, if there is a problem with the material or the design, the operator will get no feedback and thus must be on location to observe progress and address issues. CNC designs are the standard and can create highly precise and consistent results, but there is room for improvement.
Machines Attached to a Computer Network
The latest trend in creating machine shops is to attach machines to a two-way network of computers. This network can be controlled from a PC over the internet. Thus, an operator can be offsite, but still receive feedback about what is going on at the shop and make real time changes. This trend has the potential to increase creativity and productivity but may not have much effect on the final product. Thus, while there is more ease in operating machines connected to a two-way network, it should make little difference to the consumer.
Machine shops have been around for centuries and while the sophistication available with CNC machine shops can be useful, it is not always necessary. There is still something to be said for the real time adjustments that a human operator can make. If you want to work with a skilled craftsman to create a on- of-a-kind metal object, a human-operated machine shop is a good way to go, and if you need to mass produce, a CNC machine shop is a better choice. Contact a business, such as Trac Engine Services Ltd, for more information.