So I am a beginner translator working for a manufacturing company and today I'm having trouble understanding this sentence. "Material must be straight before being laid off or worked." in fabrication section of work specification. Anyone understands what this sentence exact means?? Thank you in advance.

"Material must be straight before being laid off or worked. If straighting is necessary it shall be done by methods that will not impair the metal. " is the original paragraph.

  • I especially don't understand that the "before being laid off" part. Feb 10, 2017 at 7:17

2 Answers 2


To lay off is a term of art in mechanical engineering meaning to mark materials for distance or size from plan drawings. Here's an illustrative use from Forging - Manual Of Practical Instruction In Hand Forging Of Wrought Iron by J Jernberg:

Another common way of making measurements on hot material is to lay off the different distances on the side of the anvil with chalk, the dimensions being laid off from one corner or end.

Think of laying down a ruler or template on some material and taking the measurement off the ruler or template and onto the material.

The instructions you quote reasonably demand that material be straight before it is measured and marked with those measurements. And, of course, before any work is performed to transform the material.


The meaning of the term "laid off" would depend on the context it is being used in. As per the paragraph you pasted, it has been used in conjunction with materials, so I assume this is related to some metals like Iron/Steel.

The term "to be laid off" means to be made redundant i.e. you are out of work, or not working, or not being worked. In this case the rolled material is either worked or not worked after passing the straightness test.

In case of wires/cables, using the term "laid out" would suit better than the usage of "laid off", I.e. laying down the wires/cables. Hth.

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