Machinists possess the knowledge and abilities to set up and operate machines that cut or grind metal and other materials into products with precise dimensions. These machines include lathes, milling machines, saws, grinding machines, drilling machines and boring machines.
Machinists work from drawings, specifications and their own measurements to calculate dimensions, tolerances and types of fit. They must be knowledgeable about the properties of metal, plastic, rubber and composite materials.
Precise measurements are critical to machinists' work. Machinists operate conventional and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine tools.
Machinists may work in industries where machines are manufactured, repaired or used. These may include industries that manufacture machinery equipment, motor vehicle parts or aerospace parts. The machinist machines precision parts that are used in all aspects of manufacturing. They also work in shipyards, railyards, refineries, pulp and paper mills, mines, smelters and metal fabricating and overhaul shops. Shiftwork is common in some companies. Machinists tend to work indoors.
Safety is important at all times. There are risks of injury working with moving machine parts, sharp edges and extreme heat from heated materials. Precautions are required while working with manufacturing chemicals and airborne irritants.
Key attributes for people entering this trade are: communication skills, mechanical aptitude, hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, an ability to work independently, and an understanding of mathematics and physics. Physical condition is important because the work often requires considerable standing and handling heavy objects. This analysis recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of other tradespeople such as tool and die makers, mould makers, welders and industrial mechanics (millwrights). Experienced machinists may move into supervisory positions. With additional training they may transfer their skills to related occupations such as tool and die maker, mould maker, industrial mechanic (millwright) or CNC programmer.
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