The work of prototype machinists centers on the development, testing, and operation of new machinery. It is a role which may be classified, in basic terms, as a builder who works in an engineering or manufacturing field in somewhat of a specialized career. The tasks a prototype machinist is expected to perform also include interpreting blueprints and maintaining the machinery used to develop prototype models.
There is a wide range of fields in which these skills are implemented, such as in creating medical equipment, robotics, and most types of manufactured products. The skills needed for this profession include the ability to operate conventional mills and lathes to process metals, plastics, and even wood. It can be a very hands-on physically-demanding role, and there are even some dangers associated with working with such large and specialized equipment.
The typical co-workers of prototype machinists consist mainly of other engineers, as the job is often in a factory setting where multiple stages are required to produce a final product. It is a role that exists mostly within a hierarchical structure, as they are responsible for reporting to a supervisor or lead developer. In some cases, the prototype machinist may even work directly with a client to determine specifications for the product to be built.
The most important requirements to become a prototype machinist are prior experience in manufacturing machinery strong proficiency in programming and computer-aided machining software. A minimum of a high school diploma is required by most employers, and a two-year technical degree focused on machinery is sometimes considered a standard requirement, as well.
Prototype Machinist Tasks
Perform a variety of manual milling operations such as lathing, milling, cutting, drilling, turning, taping, sawing, grinding and boring.
Design and fabricate custom tools.
Use a variety of milling tools such as Engine Lathe, Vertical Boring Mill, Horizontal Boring Mill, Bridgeports, Band Saws, Radial Arm Drills, Calipers, Micrometers, and Scales.
Read blue prints and other CAD design documents.