Metal and Plastic Processing Workers

Manufacturing > Metal and Plastic Processing Workers > Overview
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Metal and Plastic Processing Workers

Metal and Plastic Processing Workers - Overview

Metal and plastic processing workers set up and operate machines that cut and shape metal or plastic pieces.

Metal and plastic processing workers operate several types of machines:

  • Grinders smooth metal edges
  • Extruding machines force metal through small holes to make wire
  • Molding machines force air to expand plastic to fill a mold
  • Rolling machines roll steel or plastic to flatten
  • Cutting and punching machines saw, shear, bend, or straighten metal or plastic
  • Drilling and boring machines punch or bore holes in metal or plastic

Metal and plastic processing workers can be grouped into two main categories:

Set-up workers

Set-up workers prepare machines and set and adjust the controls. They read work orders, blueprints, or other instructions. They select and install blades, tools, and other attachments for the machine. They adjust the attachments to ensure proper operation.

Set-up workers replace parts as they become worn. They clean and oil them regularly. They also do minor repairs. For example, they replace parts or sharpen worn blades.

Operators and tenders

Operators and tenders load and monitor the machines as they operate. They may use hoists to load large, heavy pieces of metal onto the machinery. They load plastic material in powder, pellet, or syrup form. After securing the work pieces they adjust fixtures that guide objects as they move through the machines.

Before starting the machines, operators set all controls for speed and feed rate. They monitor the process in case of jams or other problems. Some operators observe and record data from meters and gauges. If operators cannot fix the problem, they call a supervisor.

Many operators check the finished work. Metal machine operators may use meters or gauges to check that pieces are the right size. Operators also inspect the finished work pieces for defects and mark them.

Operators keep production records.

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