Machinist vs. the Machine Operator

At one point in my search for a career, I found myself at a plasma cutting company.  While I did not run a machine (I was actually what they call an “Order Fulfillment Specialist” – shipping customer orders and building pallets), I was certainly fascinated by those who made the parts for the plasma machines… even more so, those who made the prototypes: the Machinists. 

The most exciting part for me becoming an Optician was getting the opportunity to manipulate materials.  In a previous blog I shared the frames that I melted with a salt pan into other shapes, but edging lenses really became more exciting for me.  Taking a high powered, massively thick lens and working with it to make something the patient would be proud to wear really drives me to explore more customization. 

At first I felt like a machine operator with my supplied Santinelli ME 1200 Edger [] (of course working with a blocker/tracer as well, but the brains of the operation is really the edger).  Being a machine operator is sort of like being a machine yourself: put the lens blank in, tell it to go, wait, take the edged lens out, done.  I mean, yes there are some in between steps that make it a little more challenging, but my point is the repetition… the machine-like repetition.  The task of making it your own and finding new ways of manipulation is what starts to separate the machinist.  After a lesson from my local Santinelli Tech, I learned that there was so much more I could do with lenses.  

Pictured above are some basic CR-39, 1.50 plastic plano lenses that I began experimenting with.  I designed a palm tree but the machine has struggled trying to make it work.  This machine has the capability to use a computer program where you can draw your designs and then upload them, but these I drew with the provided stylus on the screen of the machine itself.  The challenge is that you’re only given line and circles and have to do what you can with limited shapes… the challenge is what makes it fun for me. 

I don’t know if I can consider myself a Machinist quite yet, but the creator in me wants to wear the badge so badly.