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Engineering patternmaker

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Summary of occupation

Engineering patternmakers work from engineer's drawings and design and construct patterns that are used to make castings for metal parts for the manufacture of a wide range of products, such as engineering machinery and surgical instruments.

Patternmakers:

  • construct full-size engineering models (called patterns) out of materials such as timber, cast and reinforced fibreglass epoxy resins, and rigid foam
  • mark and cut sections to profiles using bandsaws, disc and bobbin sanders, lathes and routers
  • glue sections together during the lamination process
  • produce patterns using computer-controlled machines.

A very high degree of accuracy is required.

ANZSCO description: Constructs full-size engineering models usuallymade out of timber, which are used in manufacturing to produce metal castings, copy models, vacuum form tooling and tooling for the automotive, aircraft or fibreglass industries.
Alternative names: Boilermaker, Engineering Tradesperson - Fabrication, Foundry Patternmaker, Metal Fabricator, Patternmaker, Sheet Metal Trades Worker
Specialisations: Die Caster, Die Sinker, Jigmaker (Metal), Metal Spinner, Plastic Mould Maker, Press-tool Maker, Sheetmetal Patternmaker
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An Engineering Patternmaker should:

  • Enjoy technical activities
  • Be physically fit
  • Have the strength to handle materials, tools and machines
  • Have good hand-eye coordination
  • Be able to work in a team and independently
  • Possess patience
  • Be able to work accurately
  • Have no skin or breathing allergies
  • Be safety conscious.
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Working conditions

Engineering patternmakers work in workshops or production areas that can be hot, noisy, dirty, and sometimes contain fumes, however the work environments are generally spacious, ventilated and well lit. They may work in a team or alone and because of the nature of their work, safety awareness and compliance with and knowledge of regulations is important. They must wear any supplied protective clothing/equipment. They usually work closely with other tradespeople and apprentices.

Employment may be found with foundries and specialist patternmaking companies that make metal products. Some foundries are independent firms, while others are part of larger firms, such as car manufacturers.

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Salary details

On average, toolmakers and engineering patternmakers can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an engineering patternmaker develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Tools and technologies include bandsaws, disc and bobbin sanders, lathes, and routers and computer-controlled machines. Patternmakers will also handle fibreglass, epoxy resins, rigid foam, glue and timber. Patternmakers assemble the patterns using a variety of tools and machinery. When information is supplied electronically, patternmakers use computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing techniques.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an engineering patternmaker you usually have to complete an apprenticeship. The engineering – fabrication trade apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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