Metalworking lathe operators set up and tend a metalworking lathe manually, which is responsible for cutting metal to its desired size and shape by usage of a gear train or a swapping gear that propels the main lead-screw at a variable speed ratio, thus rotating the metal workpiece on its axis, facilitating the cutting process. They check the lathe equipment for wear and handle the metal workpieces as they have been cut by the lathe.
Excludes lathe and turning machine operator.
The following job titles also refer to metalworking lathe operator:
brake drum operator
metal working lathe operator
tool lathe setter
spinning lathe operator
metal spinning operator
lathe scalper operator
A high school diploma is generally required to work as a metalworking lathe operator.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Metalworking lathe operator is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Metalworking lathe operator career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to metalworking lathe operator.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of metalworking lathe operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of metalworking lathe operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of metalworking lathe operator.
- Quality and cycle time optimisation: The most optimal rotation or cycle time and over-all quality of a tool or a machine’s processes.
- Types of lathe tools: Types of tools used for the lathe machining process such as high-speed steel tools, carbide-tipped tools and carbide insert tools.
- Lathe machine parts: The different parts of a lathe machine and their applications, such as the compound, the bed, the sadle, the cross slide, the cutting tool, the lathe dog and more.
- Types of metal: Qualities, specifications, applications and reactions to different fabricating processes of various types of metal, such as steel, aluminium, brass, copper and others.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of metalworking lathe operator.
- Supply machine with appropriate tools: Supply the machine with the necessary tools and items for a particular production purpose.
- Monitor gauge: Oversee the data presented by a gauge concerning the measurement of pressure, temperature, thickness of a material, and others.
- Remove inadequate workpieces: Evaluate which deficient processed workpieces do not meet the set-up standard and should be removed and sort the waste according to regulations.
- Remove processed workpiece: Remove individual workpieces after processing, from the manufacturing machine or the machine tool. In case of a conveyor belt this involves quick, continuous movement.
- Perform product testing: Test processed workpieces or products for basic faults.
- Position cross slide of a lathe: Position, by turning a specific lever, the cross slide of a lathe machine perpendicularly, calculating the size of the workpiece and the type of lathe cutting tools used for ideal positioning.
- Operate precision measuring equipment: Measure the size of a processed part when checking and marking it to check if it is up to standard by use of two and three dimensional precision measuring equipment such as a caliper, a micrometer, and a measuring gauge.
- Monitor moving workpiece in a machine: Monitor the processing of a workpiece in motion, such as a piece of metal or wood moved linearly over a static manufacturing machine.
- Perform test run: Perform tests putting a system, machine, tool or other equipment through a series of actions under actual operating conditions in order to assess its reliability and suitability to realise its tasks, and adjust settings accordingly.
- Dispose of cutting waste material: Dispose of possibly hazardous waste material created in the cutting process, such as swarf, scrap and slugs, sort according to regulations, and clean up workplace.
- Ensure equipment availability: Ensure that the necessary equipment is provided, ready and available for use before start of procedures.
- Monitor automated machines: Continuously check up on the automated machine’s set-up and execution or make regular control rounds. If necessary, record and interpret data on the operating conditions of installations and equipment in order to identify abnormalities.
- Supply machine: Ensure the machine is fed the necessary and adequate materials and control the placement or automatic feed and retrieval of work pieces in the machines or machine tools on the production line.
- Set up lathe compound: Set up the compound of a lathe by tying it in place to a steady position and feed the work material to the compound by hand. Use both hands while turning the lever, setting up the compound, to maintain constant speed for an optimal smooth cutting process.
- Tend lathe: Tend a lathe designed for cutting manufacturing processes on metal, wooden, plastic materials and others, monitor and operate it, according to regulations.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of metalworking lathe operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Cutting technologies: The variety of cutting technologies, such as software or mechanics, guiding cutting processes through lasering, sawing, milling etc.
- Manufacturing of metal structures: The production of metal structures for construction.
- Ferrous metal processing: Various processing methods on iron and iron-containing alloys such as steel, stainless steel and pig iron.
- Manufacturing of metal containers: The manufacture of reservoirs, tanks and similar containers of metal, of types normally installed as fixtures for storage or manufacturing use. The manufacture of metal containers for compressed or liquefied gas.
- Manufacturing of steel drums and similar containers: The manufacture of pails, cans, drums, buckets, boxes, through metalworking processes.
- Manufacturing of heating equipment: The manufacture of electrical ovens and water heaters by metalworking processes.
- Types of metal manufacturing processes: Metal processes linked to the different types of metal, such as casting processes, heat treatment processes, repair processes and other metal manufacturing processes.
- Manufacturing of weapons and ammunition: The manufacture of heavy weapons (artillery, mobile guns, rocket launchers, torpedo tubes, heavy machine guns), small arms (revolvers, shotguns, light machine guns), air or gas guns and pistols, and war ammunition. Also the manufacture of hunting, sporting or protective firearms and ammunition and of explosive devices such as bombs, mines and torpedoes.
- Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.
- Manufacturing of steam generators: The manufacture of steam or other vapour generators, the manufacture of auxiliary plant for use with steam generators: condensers, economisers, superheaters, steam collectors and accumulators. The manufacture of nuclear reactors, parts for marine or power boilers. Also the production of pipe system construction comprising further processing of tubes generally to make pressure pipes or pipe systems together with the associated design and construction work.
- Types of drill bits: Qualities and applications of various types of drill bits, such as core drill bits, spotting drill bits, countersink drill bits and others.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of metalworking lathe operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
- Record production data for quality control: Keep records of the machine’s faults, interventions and irregularities for quality control.
- Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
- Apply cross-reference tools for product identification: Employ cross-reference tools and programmes, listing file names and line numbers, to identify part numbers, descriptions, and the vendor as source of origin.
- Perform machine maintenance: Perform regular maintenance, possibly including corrections and alterations, on a machine or machine tool to ensure it remains in a proper productive state.
- Provide advice to technicians: Offer help and advice to service technicians in case of machine malfunctions and other repair tasks.
- Mark processed workpiece: Inspect and mark parts of the workpiece to indicate how they will fit into the finished product.
- Apply precision metalworking techniques: Comply with precision standards specific to an organisation or product in metalworking, involved in processes such as engraving, precise cutting, welding.
- Consult technical resources: Read and interpret such technical resources such as digital or paper drawings and adjustment data in order to properly set up a machine or working tool, or to assemble mechanical equipment.
- Smooth burred surfaces: Inspect and smooth burred surfaces of steel and metal parts.
- Operate lifting equipment: Transport heavy objects using lifting equipment such as cranes, forklifts etc.
- Replace machines: Evaluate when to invest in replacing machines or machine tools and take the necessary actions.
- Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
- Set up the controller of a machine: Set up and give commands to a machine by dispatching the appropriate data and input into the (computer) controller corresponding with the desired processed product.
ISCO group and title
7223 – Metal working machine tool setters and operators
- Metalworking lathe operator – ESCO