Craig Meattey is a CNC machinist at MTD Micro Molding in Charlton, Mass. He joined the company about a year ago after working at a firm that builds new and refurbishes specialized machinery.
"I started working at MTD Micro Molding with no plastic experience, no micro experience. I went from building wire and cable machinery that was the size of a truck to creating micro mold components cut with wire that can measure as small as .002 inches in diameter (roughly half the diameter of a human hair).
"Micro molding is a whole new world, and it has been very exciting to learn about an entirely different industry."
Greatest achievement? One year ago, I did not know what a wire EDM machine even was. Now I use this tool every day to make ultraprecise mold components that are so small, they can fit on a pinky nail.
Completing accurate work on or ahead of schedule is always rewarding as well. Recently, our tooling department completed a job in half the time it normally takes — a true team effort. This felt like a great achievement. All of the members of my tooling team are on a different level in terms of skill and experience, and I enjoy learning from and working with them.
What is your current challenge at work? Every day is a challenge. Every day is new. There is an R&D aspect to our job as micro tool builders. Most of the tool features and geometries are extremely complex and difficult to achieve, with many of them having never been attempted to be made before.
What about the plastics industry surprises you? Now that I am familiar the process of mold building and injection molding, I look at plastic products in a much different way. I tend to take a closer look at plastic things, like my son's plastic toys, for example, from a mold maker's perspective. I've developed an appreciation for the process in which plastic things are created.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry? There is a huge void in the market with baby boomers retiring. There is a huge opportunity for you if you are willing to learn. The plastics industry is so vast and complex.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first? Hire people that are smarter than you. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are never going to learn or advance.
Who is your mentor? John Clark (project manager at MTD). He is close to my age, smart, very knowledgeable of my job, and has taught me a lot. I can relate to him and take everything he says very seriously.
What job do you really want to have in the future? My goal is to take advantage of all opportunities that come my way and continue to further myself in this line of work. The objective is to always keep learning and improving; I have learned that this is what is most important to me in a job.