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What Is a Machinist's Calculator?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

A machinist’s calculator is a calculator that features many one-button formulas commonly used during the machining process; it is intended for use by machinists and those with similar careers. To cut or form parts, machinists need to calculate feed rate and cutting speed, and a machinist’s calculator can help to calculate them quickly. If a grid of holes needs to be drilled into the part, then this calculator will show machinists how much room must be between each hole. Geometry equations typically come up when machinists are making a part, and this calculator has many basic geometry formulas. Wires are commonly needed with some parts, and this calculator will tell machinists the wire size required for the part.

Among the most common calculations machinists need to make are those determining feed rate and cutting speed. These figures need to be precise or the metal being machined may have an incorrect shape, the size may be wrong or the cutting tools may wear out more quickly. While this calculation can be done on paper, this introduces a greater possibility for human error and usually takes much longer to figure. To get the needed numbers using a machinist's calculator, machinists simply plug some basic information — such as drill size and angle — into the device.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Some parts require a grid of holes, whether for fitting other parts to the grid or to create access for wires. These holes normally need to be uniform and, while it usually is not too difficult for machinists to perform this by hand, the machinist’s calculator speeds the process. Even if the grid is not entirely uniform, most calculators allow machinists to plug in exact positioning information for an accurate grid.

Geometry equations and problems, such as finding the right angle or calculating area, commonly come up when machinists are preparing to machine a part. A machinist’s calculator will usually have a list of one-button formulas for common geometry problems. If there is not a one-button formula, then most of these calculators can perform basic math, so machinists can plug in the numbers like they would with a normal calculator.

After a part is machined, it may need wires for power or other reasons. There are many wire sizes, and choosing the wrong wire can provide inadequate power or the wire may be too thick to properly fit into the part. Based on the part’s teeth size, overall size and other factors, the machinist’s calculator will tell users how thick a wire needs to be to properly fit.

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