People often think of the metal-working industry as being limited to operating machinery, yet, jobs in manufacturing are enormous. A machine tool is a power-driven machine, not portable by hand, that is used to shape or form metal by cutting, impact, pressure, electrical techniques, or by a combination of these processes. The most common types of machine tools are drilling, boring, turning, milling, grinding, planning, shaping, forging, shearing, and pressing machines. Operating a machine tool, however, is just one of the many occupations in the metal-working industry. To remain competitive, a metal-working company must invent, improve, and anticipate the future needs of its customers. To do this, the industry needs a variety of competent workers.
The machining and machinery industry begins with research engineers who have also been involved with manufacturing engineering jobs, which analyze market needs and decide what new products are in demand. Once the researcher has envisioned a new product, the design and product engineers draft the method of its construction. The engineers design the machines that construct the metal product. Such a product can be another machine or simply a tool. Once the product has been designed, the rest of the manufacturing process simply involves creating the item. Depending on the product, the item may follow a variety of production steps. If the end-product is a machine, then molds and patterns must be cut according to very exact measurements, called tolerances. These processes are completed by tool and die makers, who follow blueprints to cut the metal and press it into shape. After the metal has been cut, the parts are given to the machine builders for assembly. The manufacturing of many items require specialized tasks in the production process. Such tasks depend on the size and complexity of the product. For instance, in the mass production of tools, layout workers may first mark the metal castings before they are cut and pressed. In the product’s assembly there may be several people performing repetitive, simple tasks like screwing in nuts and bolts or more complex tasks like welding. After the product has been assembled, the production painters spray the item with an industrial coating.
In the precision metal-working trade with manufacturing production jobs, most designers start as tool and die makers or mold makers and move to designer positions if they are so inclined. In manufacturing, a machine operator may become a machinists, then a supervisor, assistant superintendent, work manager, and then in top management. Similar progressions occur in every area of the metal-working industry. An individual’s process depends upon diligence, aptitude, ambition, and making contributions to the success of the company.
The metal-working industry offers a broad range of manufacturing employment opportunities for almost every skill. Several of the occupations that are closely associated with the design and manufacture of products in the metalworking and machinery industry are research engineers. This job is concerned with discovering new products and improving or developing machines or concepts for production. Researchers must make a systematic survey of current machine applications, plan and execute experimental work, and be able to approve, reject, or modify ideas advanced by others. They also must be able to communicate and consult with various other engineers to get their ideas on a particular project.
Meanwhile, product engineers are responsible for improving equipment usage. They may try to increase reliability, correct deficiencies, increase safety, reduce maintenance, or otherwise improve the performance of a product. They must know how the company’s products are used and are often called upon to make modifications to meet specific production needs. Most product engineers work with minimum supervision, often in areas where modifications are desired but not completely defined. Machines will continue to contribute to the progress of civilization in the future. Highly productive computer-controlled machining and turning centers change their own tools, transfer machinery that complete machines, assemble, and test-mass produced products, and innovative metal removal and forming systems have revolutionized America’s manufacturing jobs and industry, producing goods and services unheard of just a few years ago.
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