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Article: Meet the Master Crafters: Part II

Meet the Master Crafters: Part II

Nick Elliott - CNC Machinist

Nick started life with Northern Lights in 2017 as a metalwork operative and eventually made his way into CNC machining. We chatted with him to find out more.

How long have you been with Northern Lights?

I’ve been with the company for five years now. In my first two years, I worked on the metal side – the welding and soldering disciplines. Now I work on both the CNC and manual machines.

How did you become a CNC machinist?

When I was at school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I did electrical maintenance at college but hated it! I then spent 22 years working for a company welding and soldering, and after a while, they got a CNC machine. I’d never used a machine in my life, but I volunteered to be trained on it and just seemed to take to it. Unfortunately, they then moved all of their manufacturing to Romania. However, it was a great opportunity still as I got sent there for a week every month for about a year, training people on the machine.  

Have there been any challenges?

Because each area has input into how to achieve a design, there’s nothing I can think of since I’ve been here that we’ve said we cannot do, albeit we may have to change the approach or material from an engineering perspective. That’s where both our design AND manufacturing knowledge is so crucial. We take a lot of pride in what we make, but we have a lot of pride in the company, too, so we want every aspect of the place to run as well as it can.

How closely do you work with the design team?

We work closely together as everyone understands the importance of that. I’ve worked recently with MJ (Michael Jackson, our Head of Design) on a fitting, and he didn’t just want a plain aluminium cap. So I designed something a bit different and did a sample for him, and he loved it, so now it’s an integral part of the design. I also do a lot of complex prototypes for some big-scale installations, combining the CNC and traditional manual tools. Because I’ve been involved with many different processes, I understand where something’s come from and where it is going next in the process.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I get to make new stuff every day, it’s such a fun job, and the days fly. I was lucky to find Northern Lights, and now I get to do what I love; this job is perfect for me. It’s a beautiful place to work. Everyone is allowed to have input, and you feel heard.

How do you feel about the team that you work with?

All the people I work with are like my closest friends now, and we all work well together. I love everyone here; it is so easy working with them. The design team are fantastic; we all work together to find solutions to different challenges and help each other. We rarely do the same thing every day, so it’s key.