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Job and Die Setters


Even in early times, tools were used to make things. The wood lathe actually dates back to the ancient world and was probably a variation of the potter's wheel. It works by mechanically rotating a workpiece against a stationary cutting tool. During the Industrial Revolution, as machine tools were invented and became more widely used, they became more complex and precise. During this time, lathes were adapted for cutting metal, and by the late 1700s, British inventor Henry Maudslay had devised the first screw-cutting lathe of high quality.

As more and more machine tools were developed, their use, in part, was responsible for the design of early mass-production methods in the United States. Setting up the tools and machines properly, so that they performed their functions exactly as intended, began to require more knowledge and skill. A need developed for specialized workers who understood the machining process to prepare and adjust these tools for operation. From this need came the job of the setup worker.

The latest developments began in the 1950s and 1960s with the introduction of numerically controlled machine tools. A numerical control system regulates machine performance by interpreting coded numerical data. Further improvements in machine tools have paralleled the advances in computer technology. Setup workers have had to stay current with all these changes. Today, with machine tools even more numerous, precise, and complex, manufacturing facilities and shops depend on these specialized setters to make certain that tools perform as intended. By the 2000s, formal apprenticeship programs were created in partnership with industry organizations to provide consistent training and ensure the supply of these important workers.

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