Women in manufacturing: Why more women are becoming CNC machinists
Find out why so many women are becoming CNC machinists in the manufacturing sector.
Although there is still a significant gender gap in the manufacturing industry, it is an industry that provides steady work and competitive salaries. So, it is not surprising that many women are starting to embrace the opportunity of working in manufacturing.
And one specific area in which female workers are growing in number is CNC machining. Thousands of women across the world are employed as highly-skilled CNC machinists. And as the number of manufacturers using CNC technology continues to grow, the demand for skilled CNC machinists will naturally also grow.
A career in this sector offers good prospects, so there has never been a better time than now for women to consider a career in the CNC machining industry.
What exactly is CNC machining?
CNC machining is a metal fabrication method. It uses Computer Numerical Control via programmed G-code. The computer code sends messages to the machine to determine the preciseness of everything from the speed of the cutting head to the RPM.
CNC machining uses a subtractive fabrication method, which means the material is removed from a workpiece, contrary to the method used in 3D printing in which parts are added in the production process.
The rise of female CNC machinists
In the US, there is a significant labour shortage in the manufacturing industry, so women are being recruited in higher numbers than ever before.
It has been estimated that the computerised manufacturing industry alone needs to fill 145,000 jobs in the US by 2026, due to the retirement of baby boomers and economic expansion.
The shortage of workers means manufacturers are keen to hire more women to fill the positions. At present, women only make up about a quarter of the manufacturing workforce in the US, but that is beginning to change quickly.
The United Kingdom and other countries could be in similar situations soon. One thing is for sure: more female CNC machinists are needed.
What do CNC-machinists actually do?
CNC machining is suitable for a variety of materials, but metal is the most-used material. Machinists also handle wood, plastics, and composite materials. Each day can be different, working as a CNC machinist.
Tasks involve changing parts, inspecting parts, observing tools, completing quality control, and much more. CNC machinists also focus on keeping machines running at capacity and meeting target rates.
The job is a unique fusion between physical hands-on work and quick thinking. The majority of machinists work in the automotive, aerospace, and power industries, but CNC machines are also widely used in other manufacturing sectors.
What skills do CNC machinists have?
To become a CNC machinist, women need a broad set of skills, including mathematics, programming, mechanical design and the ability to interpret technical drawings.
In addition to good practical skills and computer skills, CNC machinists need to have an expert eye for detail, a good understanding of engineering instructions, and the ability to work to an exceptionally high level of accuracy. CNC machinists also need to have a good level of physical fitness as they can be on their feet all day.
What qualifications do CNC machinists have?
If you want to become a CNC machinist, you will need to learn certain skills. You could either go down the vocational route or the academic route. There are various specialised courses where you can learn the knowledge and practical skills needed to become a CNC machinist.
Once you have the necessary certification, you will be qualified to start working with CNC machinery straight away.