I’ve been programming CNC machines since I left University in 2003, and started out on Makino MAG3’s programming 3m long thin wall aluminium parts. Tough learning curve! Since then I’ve devoted myself to becoming a jack-of-all-trades (master of some ), covering everything from industrial product design, through to DFMA (design for manufacture and assembly), machine tool design and building and CNC programming for all the major controls, as well as a few oddball ones.

My industrial experience led me back into the academic world, where I now work as a Research Fellow, completing research into High Performance Machining of Aerospace Materials (Aluminium, Titanium, CFRP, Inconel, etc.) and development of Hybrid Parallel Kinematic machine tools (google Exechon to see what I mean). My area of expertise is in Modal Analysis of machine tools, investigating how Chatter occurs, and tuning machine tools and cutting processes to maximise metal removal.

I’m not the average ‘mad-scientist’ Academic though – I’m just passionate about figuring out this ‘black art’ of machining. You find out that it’s nothing of the sort. Every ‘trick’ – like rubber bands around boring bars to reduce chatter, why increasing spindle speed can be the best way of stopping chatter, why running dry makes the tool last longer – has a scientific explanantion. It shouldn't be hit and miss!

I’m always mesmerised by ‘proper’ engineers and toolmakers who can craft something precise and beautiful from a block of material with only simple tools and a whole load of experience. It makes it look like I’m cheating by using CNC to do the hard work.

I hope that I can pass on some of my experience, and hopefully learn a lot from you guys too.