What Is A Machine Shop?

The term “machine shop” is commonly tossed around. High schools in Minneapolis, for example, offer it as a course. Some confuse it with car repair. Yet, while vehicles are a type of machine, this is not to what the term refers. The key to defining and describing this phrase lies in the word “machine.”

Defining Machine Shops

Machine shops are places – this includes rooms, buildings, and companies, where employees perform machining. This action involves utilizing various machine tools and equipment to produce or manufacture components of diverse materials. Commonly, the material is metal, but it can also be plastic, glass, wood or composite combination.


As is the case with many shops, the amount and type of machinery available and in use will vary according to the focus of the shop and even its size. Some shops may be a one or two person show; others may hire a dozen or more. In several modern companies, robots may do some of the work, operating the machinery. The most common equipment found in a machine shop is:

  • Lathes
  • Drill presses
  • Milling machines
  • Machining centers
  • Multitasking equipment
  • Grinding machines

Much of the equipment is manual, automatic or CNC (computer numerical control). Increasingly CNC equipment is gaining a strong hold in this trade.

In addition to machinists, machine shops may also hire other skilled tradespeople. This includes various types of metal fabricators e.g. platers and welders. In Minneapolis shops, many of these skilled craftspeople provide, when necessary, the finishing touches to the work of the machinists.

The Machine Shop

Today, both large and small machine shops operate in cities such as Minneapolis. Skilled and experienced tradespeople and their apprentices work hard to produce specialized and generalized work for their clients. For many manufacturers, a machine shop is an essential component of their production line.

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