Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operator, Metal and Plastic

Automated Cutting Machine Operator, Automation Machine Operator, Brake Press Operator   More Names
CNC Laser Operator (Computer Numerical Control Laser Operator), CNC Machine Operator (Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Operator), CNC Machinist (Computer Numerically Controlled Machinist), CNC Operator (Computer Numeric Control Operator), CNC Technician (Computer Numerical Control Technician), 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), Computer Numerically Controlled Shot Peening Operator, Jig Boring Machine Operator for Metal, Laser Beam Trim Operator, Machine Operator, Machine Set-Up, Operator, Machinist, Manufacturing Assistant, Manufacturing Associate, Manufacturing Operator, Medical Numerical Control Operator, Metal CNC Operator, Numerical Control Drill Press Operator, Numerical Control Jig Boring Machine Operator, Numerical Control Lathe Operator, Numerical Control Machine Operator, Numerical Control Machine Operator, Metal and Plastic, Numerical Control Machine Set-Up Operator, Numerical Control Machine Tool Operator, Numerical Control Milling Machine Operator, Numerical Control Milling Machine Set-Up Operator, Numerical Control Router Operator, Numerical Control Router Set-Up Operator, Plastic CNC Machine Operator, Printed Circuit Boards Numerical Control Drill Operator, Robotic Machine Operator, Shot Peening Operator, Welding Robot Operator

Metal and plastic machine workers set up and operate machines that cut, shape, and form metal and plastic materials or pieces. Metal and plastic machine workers typically do the following: Set up machines and monitor them for unusual sound or vibration; lift material onto machines, manually or with a hoist; operate metal or plastic molding, casting, or core making machines; adjust the machines’ speed and other settings; adjust cutting machine settings to account for irregularities; stop machines and remove finished products; test and measure finished products; remove and replace dull cutting tools, and dDocument production numbers in a computer database.

Consumer products are made with many metal and plastic parts. These parts are produced by machines that are operated by metal and plastic machine workers. In general, these workers are separated into two groups: those who set up machines for operation and those who operate machines during production. Although many workers both set up and operate the machines, some specialize in one of the following job types: Machine setters, or setup workers, prepare the machines before production, perform test runs, and, if necessary, adjust and make minor repairs to the machinery before and during operation.

If, for example, the cutting tool inside a machine becomes dull after extended use, it is common for a setter to remove the tool, use a grinder or file to sharpen it, and place it back into the machine. New tools are produced by tool and die makers. For more information, see the profile on machinists and tool and die makers. After installing the tools into a machine, setup workers often produce the initial batch of goods, inspect the products, and turn the machine over to an operator.

Machine operators and tenders monitor the machinery during operation. After a setter prepares a machine for production, an operator observes the machine and the products it produces. Operators may have to load the machine with materials for production or adjust the machine’s speeds during production. They must periodically inspect the parts a machine produces. If they detect a minor problem, operators may fix it themselves. If the repair is more serious, they may have an industrial machinery mechanic fix it.

For more information, see the profile on industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers. Setters, operators, and tenders usually are identified by the type of machine they work with. Job duties usually vary with the size of the manufacturer and the type of machine being operated. Although some workers specialize in one or two types of machinery, many are trained to set up or operate a variety of machines. Increasing automation allows machine setters to operate multiple machines at the same time.

In addition, newer production techniques, such as team-oriented “lean” manufacturing, require machine operators to rotate between different machines. Rotating assignments results in more varied work but also requires workers to have a wider range of skills. The following are types of metal and plastic machine workers: Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform functions on metal or plastic work pieces.

Computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers, metal and plastic develop programs to control the machining or processing of metal or plastic parts by automatic machine tools, equipment, or systems. Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic set up or operate machines to extrude (pull out) or draw thermoplastic or metal materials into tubes, rods, hoses, wire, bars, or structural shapes. Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic set up or operate machines that taper, shape, or form metal or plastic parts.

Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic set up or operate machines to roll steel or plastic or to flatten, temper, or reduce the thickness of material. Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic set up or operate machines to saw, cut, shear, notch, bend, or straighten metal or plastic material.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
18% - Faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $30,480 - $47,570    Hourly: $15 - $23
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Although most material handling is done using automated systems or is mechanically aided, some metal and plastic machine workers must be strong enough to guide and load heavy and bulky parts and materials into machines. Metal and plastic machine workers must be able to stand for long periods and perform repetitive work.

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Legal Requirements

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

18% - Faster than average
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Typical Wages:

Annual: $30,480 - $47,570

Hourly: $15 - $23