The Ins and Outs of Being a Machinist
Thursday, November 20, 2014

The word “machinist” tends to get thrown around quite a bit in the industrial fabrication world. With a word that can have many meanings, it can be a bit confusing at times as to what a machinist actually does. If you’re interested in pursuing a job in the field, or are just curious about the trade, read on to find out some of the specifics of machinists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 there were a recorded number of 476,200 machinist, tool and die maker jobs in the U.S.  With this many jobs across the country, and all in varying fields, it is somewhat complicated to pin down the exact definition of a machinist’s job. A basic definition of this occupation is a person who uses machine tools to make and/or modify parts during the process of machining. Pretty simple, right? But what exactly do people who are machinists do? Some of the skills tool and die makers have overlap with the skills of machinists, so what these people do may be grouped together.

Besides producing metal parts, tools and other instruments, machinists have a myriad of other duties. Working on computer-numerical controlled (CNC) devices, such as setting them up, operating them and even disassembling them, are high on the list of duties for machinists. But this certainly isn’t the only facet of the industrial business that machinists work on. Knowledge of different types of machining equipment (that includes computerized and non-computerized equipment) is needed for the job. You may be wondering if the machine is computer-numeric controlled, why is a person needed? While the CNC machine controls the cutting tool speed, a machinist is needed to determine the cutting path, the speed of the cut and the feed rate; not every function of a lathe, chamfering machine and milling machine is computer controlled. Plus, while CNC machines are becoming increasingly popular, there are still many manual machines that require a machinist to operate them.

To work on such machines, machinists do require a set of skills needed for the trade. Math and computer knowledge is required in most applications for people to work on CNC machine tools; as people in these professions go about operating industrial machinery from day to day, mechanical skills are needed in the profession; other technical and analytical skills are needed in this professions to understand the electronics and processes machinists work with; and there are physical traits required, such as manual dexterity for precise measurements and the ability to endure long periods of standing, in order to be able to properly perform their jobs.

Where do all of these machinists work, you may be asking? The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2012, the industries that employed the most machinists were machinery manufacturing, machine shops and transportation equipment manufacturing, respectively. With those three industries topping the list, machinists are responsible for many tools and machines that can help make everyday objects or, high-powered equipment that is used in other fields, and even help us get where we are going.

Since machinist is a general term that covers many aspects in the industrial engineering world, there are numerous ins and outs within this profession. “Machinists do work with machinery and machine tools to create and modify metal parts,” is a simple definition of the occupation that employs hundreds of thousands of people in this country. Within each related field, there are numerous different skills and roles machinists possess in their respective specialized jobs.


Blog Categories

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    • 12/17/2016 - DIY Spindle Liners
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    • 01/20/2015 - Ornamental Turning
    • 12/09/2014 - Informative Machinist Blogs
    • 11/20/2014 - The Ins and Outs of Being a Ma
    • 10/23/2014 - Bow Lathes Before Power
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    • 03/18/2014 - The Basics of Spindle Liners
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Jack,  All the products I have purchased from JF Berns have been the best. In my past , I bought quite a few of your Liners. Now that I have changed shops, there is a lot of growth potential for more Liner purchases.

Benjamin Morse / Butler Bro



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