Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A machinist is a tradesperson who specializes in making things out of metal or other solid material. Depending which part of the world you are from, a machinist may also be known as a fitter or turner if they have their trade papers, a toolmaker if they specialize in making the tools for production or a process worker if they operate a production machine (cnc).
A machinist is to metal as a carpenter is to wood. Machinists usually work to very small tolerances, often within .005" (.1mm), and even .0005" (.01mm). Except for welding, a machinist deals with all facets of shaping, cutting and forming metal. Tools that a machinist uses include mills, lathes, drill presses, grinders , precision measuring tools, cnc and boring mills .
A machinist is usually called upon when someone needs at least one part made. This could include a machinery part for a production line or generally anything that can be made from metal or plastic. When large numbers of parts are required a specalised production machine will be used, this may be a one of the older style multi-spindle machines, swiss-style machines or a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine.
CNC machines are becoming the standard due to their speed, precision and reduced downtown while changing jobs. Production runs consisting of large numbers of parts are more cost effective and commonly referred to as production work in the trade. Conversely, small production runs are sometimes referred to as prototype or jobbing work.
Production engineers use blueprints and drawings to picture the part, then decide on a strategy to make it. The machine is then configured by the machinist (or setter) and production commences. The machinist works closely with the quality department in order to ensure the original specifications are maintained in the part produced.
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