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Details for Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic


Operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.


  • Adjust machine feed and speed, change cutting tools, or adjust machine controls when automatic programming is faulty or if machines malfunction.
  • Calculate machine speed and feed ratios, and the size and position of cuts.
  • Check to ensure that workpieces are properly lubricated and cooled during machine operation.
  • Enter commands or load control media such as tapes, cards, or disks into machine controllers in order to retrieve programmed instructions.
  • Input initial part dimensions into machine control panels.
  • Insert control instructions into machine control units to start operation.
  • Lift workpieces to machines manually, or with hoists or cranes.
  • Listen to machines during operation in order to detect sounds such as those made by dull cutting tools or excessive vibration and adjust machines to compensate for problems.
  • Measure dimensions of finished workpieces to ensure conformance to specifications, using precision measuring instruments, templates, and fixtures.
  • 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 in order to detect malfunctions.
  • Mount, install, align, and secure tools, attachments, fixtures, and workpieces on machines, using hand tools and precision measuring instruments.
  • Remove and replace dull cutting tools.
  • Review program specifications or blueprints to determine and set machine operations and sequencing, finished workpiece dimensions, or numerical control sequences.
  • Set up and operate computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic workpieces.
  • Stop machines to remove finished workpieces, or to change tooling, setup, or workpiece placement, according to required machining sequences.
  • Transfer commands from servers to computer numerical control (CNC) control modules, using computer network links.
  • Clean machines, tooling, and parts, using solvents or solutions and rags.
  • Confer with supervisors or programmers to resolve machine malfunctions and production errors, and to obtain approval to continue production.
  • Control coolant systems.
  • Examine electronic components for defects and completeness of laser-beam trimming, using microscopes.
  • Implement changes to machine programs, and enter new specifications, using computers.
  • Lay out and mark areas of parts to be shot-peened, and fill hoppers with shot.
  • Maintain machines, and remove and replace broken or worn machine tools, using hand tools.
  • Set up future jobs while machines are operating.
  • Stack or load finished items, or place items on conveyor systems.
  • Write simple programs for computer-controlled machine tools.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.


  • 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.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

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