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Also known as:
Brake Press Operator, Computer Numerical Control Lathe Operator (CNC Lathe Operator), Computer Numerical Control Machine Operator (CNC Machine Operator), Computer Numerical Control Machinist (CNC Machinist), Computer Numerical Control Mill Operator (CNC Mill Operator), Computer Numerical Control Operator (CNC Operator), Computer Numerical Control Set-Up and Operator (CNC Set-Up and Operator), Machine Operator, Machine Set-Up Operator, Machinist

Video transcript

Consumer products are made with many metal and plastic parts. Metal and plastic machine workers set up the machines that produce the parts, and operate them during production. Hundreds of thousands of machine workers in the manufacturing industry work in different phases of production: following blueprints, they set up the machinery to produce the correct product. Machine setters prepare the machines before production and perform test runs of the initial batches, making repairs or adjustments as needed to ensure quality control. Then, operators take over, and may have to load the machine with metal or plastic materials or adjust machine controls during production. They periodically inspect the parts and conduct minor maintenance. At completion, they remove and test finished products, then document production numbers. Metal and plastic machine operators may specialize in a particular type of machine, for example: Computer-controlled machine tool operators operate robots to perform functions on workpieces. Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers called CNC workers develop computer programs to control automated processes. They require more training than other machine workers. Extruding and drawing machine workers push out thermoplastic or metal materials in the form of tubes, rods, or hoses. Cutting, punching, and press machine workers run machines to saw, bend, or straighten materials. Molding, coremaking, and casting machine workers run machines to form metal or thermoplastic parts or products. Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders set up or operate more than one type of cutting or forming machine tool or robot. Manufacturing facilities typically employ machine workers full time, usually in shifts that include evenings, weekends, and frequent overtime. With automation, multiple machines may be controlled at the same time, so workers train on different machines and gain a variety of skills. Because these workers operate powerful, high-speed machines, most usually wear protective equipment, such as safety glasses, earplugs, and steel-toed boots. Respirators are common for those in the plastics industry who work near materials that emit dangerous fumes or dust. Employers prefer to hire candidates with high school education, then train machine operators on the job.

Operate computer-controlled tools, machines, or robots to machine or process parts, tools, or other work pieces made of metal, plastic, wood, stone, or other materials. May also set up and maintain equipment.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Enter commands or load control media, such as tapes, cards, or disks, into machine controllers to retrieve programmed instructions.

Modify cutting programs to account for problems encountered during operation, and save modified programs.

Monitor machine operation and control panel displays, and compare readings to specifications to detect malfunctions.

Insert control instructions into machine control units to start operation.

Adjust machine feed and speed, change cutting tools, or adjust machine controls when automatic programming is faulty or if machines malfunction.

Remove and replace dull cutting tools.

Listen to machines during operation to detect sounds such as those made by dull cutting tools or excessive vibration, and adjust machines to compensate for problems.

Implement changes to machine programs, and enter new specifications, using computers.

Control coolant systems.

Maintain machines and remove and replace broken or worn machine tools, using hand tools.

Review program specifications or blueprints to determine and set machine operations and sequencing, finished workpiece dimensions, or numerical control sequences.

Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Troubleshooting Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.