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What Do Machinists Do?

Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders to produce precision metal parts. Many machinists must be able to use both manual and CNC machinery. CNC machines control the cutting tool speed and do all necessary cuts to create a part. The machinist determines the cutting path, the speed of the cut, and the feed rate by programming instructions into the CNC machine.

Machinists typically use blueprints, sketches or computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) files.

Although workers may produce large quantities of one part, precision machinists often produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items. The parts that machinists make range from simple steel bolts to titanium bone screws for orthopedic implants. Hydraulic parts, antilock brakes, and automobile pistons are other widely known products that machinists make.

Some machinists repair or make new parts for existing machinery. After an industrial machinery mechanic discovers a broken part in a machine, a machinist remanufactures the part. The machinist refers to blueprints and performs the same machining operations that were used to create the original part in order to create the replacement.

Some manufacturing processes use lasers, water jets, and electrified wires to cut the workpiece. As engineers design and build new types of machine tools, machinists must learn new machining properties and techniques.

Machinists and tool and die makers are typically trained on the job

Typically Machinist are trained on the job. Some learn through training or apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, or community and technical colleges. Machinists usually need just a high school diploma. High school courses in math, blueprint reading, metalworking, and drafting are considered useful.

The median annual wage for machinists was $45,840 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,050.

Employment of machinists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. With improvements in technologies, such as computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, autoloaders, high-speed machining, and lights-out manufacturing, machinists will still be required to set up, monitor, and maintain these systems.

Many job openings for machinists and tool and die makers are expected to arise each year from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force, such as to retire.

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