Machinists set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically-controlled machine tools to produce precision metal parts, instruments, and tools.
Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders, to produce precision metal parts. These tools are either manually controlled or computer-numerically controlled (CNC). 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. Many machinists must be able to use both manual and computer-controlled machinery in their jobs.
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 bolts of steel to titanium bone screws for orthopedic implants. Hydraulic parts, anti-lock 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 would need to remanufacture the broken 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.
Because the technology of machining is changing rapidly, workers must learn to operate a wide range of machines. Some newer manufacturing processes use lasers, water jets, electrical discharge machines (EDM), and electrified wires to cut the workpiece. Although some of the computer controls are similar to those of other machine tools, machinists must understand the unique capabilities of different machines. As engineers create new types of machine tools, machinists constantly must learn new machining properties and techniques.