Tool & Die Makers
Also called: Tool and Die Machinist, Tool and Die Maker, Tool and Fixture Specialist, Tool Maker
In the Army: Allied Trades Warrant Officer; Combat Engineer; Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic
In the Coast Guard: Machinery Technician; Marine Safety Specialist Engineer; Naval Engineering Specialty
In the Marine Corps: Machinist
In the Navy: Machinery Repairman
Produced by CareerOneStop
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To build everything workshops and factories around the country rely on the handiwork of machinists, and tool and die makers. Starting from blueprints, sketches, or computer-aided design files, they set up the machines that produce parts. Once products are made, they file and grind them to meet project specifications, giving them a final smoothing and polish to finish. Machinists run computer numerically controlled or CNC—machines… that produce precision metal parts and tools. They may produce a large number of one part– such as automobile pistons… or many small batches— like bone screws for medical implants… or even one-of-a-kind items. They need to be skilled with a wide range of machines and techniques. Toolmakers craft precision tools for cutting and forming metal, and create different gauges and other measuring devices. Die makers construct metal forms used to shape metal, and make molds for shaping plastics, ceramics, and composite materials. Tool and die makers are trained to write CNC programs as well as operate the machines. Workers wear safety glasses, earplugs, and masks when needed to protect themselves during hazardous phases of their work. Schedules are generally full time, with some shifts on evenings and weekends to keep production running around the clock. A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary, and skills in math and problem-solving are important. Machinists may train in on the job, apprenticeship, or at technical colleges. Becoming a tool or die maker takes several years of instruction and on-the-job training.
What they do:Analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, cutting tools, jigs, fixtures, gauges, and machinists' hand tools.
On the job, you would:
- Verify dimensions, alignments, and clearances of finished parts for conformance to specifications, using measuring instruments such as calipers, gauge blocks, micrometers, or dial indicators.
- Set up and operate conventional or computer numerically controlled machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, or grinders to cut, bore, grind, or otherwise shape parts to prescribed dimensions and finishes.
- Visualize and compute dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of assemblies, based on specifications.
Engineering and Technology
Math and Science
- arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Manufactured or Agricultural Goods
- manufacture and distribution of products
Arts and Humanities
- English language
- keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
- thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
- noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
Hand and Finger Use
- hold or move items with your hands
- put together small parts with your fingers
Ideas and Logic
- notice when problems happen
- group things in different ways
- communicate by speaking
- listen and understand what people say
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
- Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Computer aided design CAD software
Computer aided manufacturing CAM software
- 1CadCam Unigraphics
- OPEN MIND Technologies hyperMILL
- Cutting, Punching, & Press Machine Setters, Operators, & Tenders, Metal & Plastic
- Lathe & Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, & Tenders, Metal & Plastic
- Milling & Planing Machine Setters, Operators, & Tenders, Metal & Plastic
- Model Makers, Metal & Plastic
- Tool Grinders, Filers, & Sharpeners
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