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Layout Workers


The history of the layout worker's job, along with all other machining jobs, is tied in with the history of the development of machine tools. The modern machine tool can be traced back to gun production in the 16th century. However, it was not until late in the 18th century, when the steam engine was developed by James Watt, that the early, crude machine tools were refined. The steam engine was followed by the development of the boring machine by John Wilkinson and the screw-cutting lathe by Henry Maudslay. Most of the other early machines were derived from the lathe, including the drilling, milling, sawing, and grinding machines.

The advent of mass production methods in manufacturing—first used by Eli Whitney to manufacture muskets—sparked the improvement of existing machines as well as the invention of new ones. James Nasmyth invented the nut-shaping machine and the steam hammer during the 1830s. With the introduction of the micrometer caliper in the 1860s, precision machining became feasible. Finally, the electric motor as a source of power made it possible to further improve machine tools.

In the 1920s, U.S. automobile manufacturers were the catalysts for the development of a great number and variety of specialty machines. It was during this time that machine tools and their operators took a permanent place in modern metalworking industries. As the machines became more complex, workers specialized in various phases of their operation. Layout workers evolved as skilled craftsworkers who precisely marked machining points on metal.

Today, the work done by these machines forms the basis of all modern industrial production, for they are necessary in the manufacture of every kind of engine, mechanism, and manufactured product. Such diverse items as textiles, metal goods, building materials, and scientific instruments are made either on a machine tool or on another machine that has been built by using machine tools.

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