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Cutting/Punching Machine Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Cutting, Punching and Press Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic Career Video



Sets up, operates, or tends machines to saw, cut, shear, slit, punch, crimp, notch, bend, or straighten metal or plastic material.

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster Manufacturing Production pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Measures completed workpieces to verify conformance to specifications, using micrometers, gauges, calipers, templates, or rulers.
  • Examines completed workpieces for defects, such as chipped edges or marred surfaces and sort defective pieces according to types of flaws.
  • Sets stops on machine beds, changes dies, and adjusts components, such as rams or power presses, when making multiple or successive passes.
  • Starts machines, monitors their operations, and records operational data.
  • Sets up, operates, or tends machines to saw, cut, shear, slit, punch, crimp, notch, bend, or straighten metal or plastic material.
  • Tests and adjusts machine speeds or actions, according to product specifications, using gauges and hand tools.
  • Installs, aligns, and locks specified punches, dies, cutting blades, or other fixtures in rams or beds of machines, using gauges, templates, feelers, shims, and hand tools.
  • Reads work orders or production schedules to determine specifications, such as materials to be used, locations of cutting lines, or dimensions and tolerances.
  • Positions guides, stops, holding blocks, or other fixtures to secure and direct workpieces, using hand tools and measuring devices.
  • Positions, aligns, and secures workpieces against fixtures or stops on machine beds or on dies.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 50 lbs., sometimes up to 100 lbs. You will need a lot of strength at this level.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Die Setter --
  • Fabrication Operator --
  • Machine Operator --
  • Machine Setter --
  • Operator --
  • Press Operator --
  • Punch Press Operator --
  • Saw Operator --
  • Set-Up Operator --
  • Slitter Operator --