Manufacturing > Machinists > Overview
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Machinists - Overview

Machinists use machine tools to produce precision metal parts.

Machinists operate machine tools such as lathes, drill presses, and milling machines. They use their knowledge of metal and tools to make products that are precise sizes and shapes.

For example, they make parts for:

  • Industrial machines
  • Aircraft
  • Cars

Some machinists make large quantities of one part, especially very precise parts. Others produce small batches or one-of-a-kind items.

Before they make a part, machinists review blueprints, drawings, or written directions. They calculate where to cut or bore into the work piece.

Machinists select the tools and materials for each job and plan the sequence of steps. They set up and adjust machines and specialized tools.

Machinists monitor the feed and speed of machines. Because machining metal products creates a great deal of heat, machinists make sure the work piece is properly lubricated and cooled. To reduce costs, they recycle or reuse metal scraps.

Many machine tools used to produce metal parts are often computer numerically controlled (CNC). CNC machine tools enable machinists to produce more parts in less time. They also enable machinists to produce parts with a very high level of precision. Skilled machinists may also do CNC programming.

Maintenance machinists clean, oil, and maintain the machine tools. They also repair or make new parts for existing machinery. Most machinists confer with supervisors or engineers when there are problems. They may also talk to customers about using different materials, depending on the product.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.