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Apprenticeship training program – Plastics technician

Plastics technicians are responsible for the creation of plastic articles and semi-finished plastics. Among the many different products manufactured by them are e.g. tubes, foils, pipes and other plastics for construction purposes as well as machine parts or parts of other devices made of plastics (e.g. housings, gear wheels, disks, etc.). They operate various processing machines and use mechanical methods, such as sawing, drilling, cutting, bonding, soldering or hardening. Plastics technicians work in workshops and production halls of plastics processing enterprises, forming teams with workmates and various other skilled and unskilled workers.

Fields of activities:

When creating plastic articles and plastic components, first of all molding compounds need to be prepared from plastics (in granular, powder, and paste form). For this purpose, the plastics technicians mix the matrix with softening agents, stabilizers, colorants and fillers in kneaders and rolling machines. Subsequently, the plastic molding compound is heated and processed by means of extruder machines (i.e. injection molding machines with nozzle tips, from which the hot plastic molding compound is injected) forming tubes, sheets, insulating boards, pipes and cables.

Plastics technicians control and monitor the manufacturing processes, they program and operate computer-controlled manufacturing machines, and they adjust or refit these machines. They carry out quality controls of the final products on a regular basis and conduct various tests with the help of measuring and testing devices (e.g. to examine the product’s strength and stability, its pressure-resistance, flexibility and heat-resistance).

In manual processing or post-processing of plastic products plastics technicians use various mechanical methods, such as punching, sawing, drilling, filing, turning, milling, grinding or polishing. Finished products receive certain surface treatments and for this purpose plastics technicians adjust the surface treatment machines, which, for example, grind, polish, harden, seal, coat or impregnate the products. Subsequently, the finished workpieces are properly packed, stored and delivered.

Work equipment / working materials:

Plastics technicians work with all sorts of plastic materials and plastic matrices (in granular, powder or paste form) They use softening agents, stabilizers, colorants and fillers and operate machines and manufacturing systems such as kneaders and rolling machines, cutting machines, filling machines and injection molding machines. For the purpose of quality control of the finished products they use various measuring and testing devices and they also work with other laboratory devices, such as microscopes, test tubes and indicators and also with cleaning and disinfection agents. They keep operation logs and records, as well as material, stock and parts lists.

Work environment / places of work:

Plastics technicians work in workshops of business establishments or in factory halls as well as in research and test laboratories of industrial undertakings. They work in teams with their workmates and various other skilled and non-skilled workers from the areas of plastics and chemicals but also with people from the metal processing trade and the mechanical engineering and vehicle construction industry.

Key activities and work tasks of a plastics technician at one glance:

  • Reads blueprints and technical documentation
  • Is involved in product and production development
  • Determines work steps, work materials and tools as well as work methods
  • Plans, controls and coordinates workflows
  • Procures, selects and prepares materials
  • Sets up and inspects machines and production lines and puts them into operation
  • Machines plastic raw materials and plastic semi-finished products with and without cutting techniques
  • Manufactures plastic products by using plastics processing methods and techniques
  • Observes safety rules, standards and environmental regulations
  • Sets up surface finishing machines and refines surfaces
  • Recycles remaining (by-)products and/or ensures their proper disposal
  • Conducts quality controls and applies quality management systems
  • Collects and documents technical data regarding the work process and the work results
  • Keeps operation logs, work protocols, material, stock and parts lists, as well as files, maps and documents

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