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What is a Machine Shop?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A machine shop is a facility with equipment and supplies for machining, a process where parts are cut, fabricated, and finished to prepare them for use. Machine shops are used in the creation of new parts, as well as repairs of existing equipment and parts. Their personnel may have specialized training, depending on the type of work done at the shop, as some machining tasks require a unique skill set, as well as a deep understanding of the kind of work the finished parts will be used for.

Equipment like cars, aircraft, large engines, and manufacturing equipment can all spend some time in a machine shop when it is created or in need of repair. Companies that manufacture such equipment usually have a machine shop on site for fabrication of new, custom, and test parts. Machine shops are also found in educational and research facilities, where people learn about machining in the context of repair, as well as fabricating parts for custom applications like developing equipment for use in experiments.

Heavy equipment like lathes and drill presses is commonly installed in a machine shop. The facility is well ventilated to address concerns about particulates and can have rasps, files, and other smaller supplies for finishing tasks available as well as painting booths for painting or coating finished products. In some cases, robots are used, especially when people need to make parts in a clean environment to avoid contamination; they control a robot from outside a room as it machines a part to specification.

Many machine shops have safety protocols to address common safety concerns. Before people can use the equipment, they need to be trained and they are expected to wear safety gear like goggles and face coverings while they work. People must be alert to hazards in the shared space, such as spills or people working with dangerous materials. A safety officer may be charged with inspecting the machine shop periodically to identify and address safety hazards.

Some high schools have a machine shop if they have a car maintenance and repair program. Students in the program learn to work with the equipment in the context of working on cars and can apply their machine shop skills to professional trades after graduation. Technical schools, where students focus on learning skilled trades, may have very high quality shops and can provide their students with internship and employment opportunities in the community.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By oscar23 — On Jul 02, 2011

You might be surprised at all of the things that come out of a machine shop, and at the kinds of brains it takes to run some of those machines.

I’ve got to say that I used to date a man that worked in a machine shop and this was quite a deviation from my regular type. Although he was not college educated, I soon discovered that this man not only had the body of a god from working with such heavy duty equipment all of the time, but that he also was a pretty smart cookie.

It was from him that I learned to appreciate the kind of people that work in these kinds of places. They turn out everything from teeny tiny screws for glasses to huge anchor bolts that hold entire stadiums together!

I thought so much of that smart, good-looking machine tool worker that I married him about ten years ago. Like I said; you might be surprised what can come from a machine shop.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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