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Foundry Occupations

Number of visits: Date:2012-5-9

 

THE JOB

Metal units ranging in complexity from pipe-fittings to engine blocks are
often produced by pouring molten metals into sand molds.  This process is
called casting. MOLDERS prepare the molds into which metal is transferred. 
When hollow castings are desired, COREMAKERS form cores which are placed
inside molds before the metal is poured.  PATTERNMAKERS fabricate the
metal or wood shapes that give molds and cores the proper shape.

When an order comes to the foundry for a new casting, Patternmakers make a
full-scale wooden or metal model of the object using engineering drawings
as guides.  Wood Patternmakers use saws, planers, drills, lathes, and
various hand tools; in addition to these tools, metal Patternmakers use
machine shop and tool room machines.  After mixing the right proportions of
sand and binding agents, Molders force the mixture around a pattern held in
an open-ended container called a flask which forms a mold of the design
when the pattern is removed.  If the casting is to be hollow, Coremakers
form a core from a mold with a similar mixture of sand and binding agents.

Though Molders, Coremakers, and Patternmakers perform routine tasks
repeatedly, there is more variety in foundry work than in most industrial
occupations.  The journey-level worker makes many different types of molds,
cores, and patterns, which requires skill and judgment to produce an
acceptable product.  Casting can be a difficult task because the materials
are relatively crude, the tools and equipment simple, and the behavior of
molten metal somewhat erratic.  Since each metal and alloy cast has its own
characteristics which affect molding techniques, foundry workers specialize
in steel, iron, bronze, brass or aluminum.



WORKING CONDITIONS

Although foundry workers work with molten metal, powerful machinery, and
heavy molds and cores, working conditions for these occupations do not
differ significantly from those of other factories and plants.  The only
workers continuously exposed to the heat of molten metal are the melting
crews.  Workers may be annoyed by occasional smoke, heat or dust.  Journey-
level workers are less likely to be exposed than are Molder or Coremaker
helpers.

Molders and Coremakers must be in good physical condition, because the work
can involve considerable walking, standing, bending and lifting.  There are
intervals of light work, such as mold finishing and core setting.  Because
molten metals are used, protective clothing, gloves and other safety
equipment are required when appropriate.

A pattern shop operates either as part of a foundry or as an independent
operation producing patterns for different foundries.  In either case,
Patternmakers enjoy generally pleasant working environments; shops are
generally quiet, well lit and ventilated but are subject to the noise of
wood and metal working machines.  The work is not physically demanding,
though long periods of standing and some heavy lifting are necessary.

Patternmaking tools are generally supplied by the employee.  Molders and
Coremakers sometimes must buy their own tools.  Tool costs may range between
$100 to $200 for Molders and Coremakers, and may reach $1,000 or more for
journey-level Patternmakers.  Foundry workers may belong to the
International Molders and Allied Workers Union, the United Foundry and
Warehouse Employees, or the United Steel Workers of America.  Patternmakers
may belong to the Patternmaker's Association.  Most foundries and
patternmaking shops are located in urban areas.



EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK

The following information is from the California Projections of Employment
published by the Labor Market Information Division.

These figures represent the broad occupational group Foundry Mold, Core
Makers, and Precision which includes Foundry occupations.

Estimated number of workers in 1993                 830
Estimated number of workers in 2005                 980
Projected Growth 1993-2005                          18%
Estimated openings due to separations by 2005       210

These figures represent the broad occupational group Molders, Shapers,
excluding Jeweler which includes Foundry occupations.

Estimated number of workers in 1993               1,700
Estimated number of workers in 2005               1,760
Projected Growth 1993-2005                           4%
Estimated openings due to separations by 2005       390

These figures represent the broad occupational group Patternmakers, Model
Makers, and Layout which includes Foundry occupations.

Estimated number of workers in 1993                 310
Estimated number of workers in 2005                 310
Projected Growth 1993-2005                           0%
Estimated openings due to separations by 2005        70

(These figures do not include self-employment or openings due to turnover.)

Automation of some casting procedures will limit future job opportunities
in the foundries.

Openings caused by workers who leave the occupation will provide most of
the job opportunities.  The average age of foundry workers has increased
over the past few years.  As these workers retire, opportunities will be
created for younger workers.  Occasional shortages of journey-level workers
develop when the demand for cast products is heavy.

Increasing, complex mechanization will give the skilled Molder and
Coremaker an advantage when seeking work; unskilled and semiskilled workers
will have a more difficult time finding work.  Job openings can fluctuate
because the demand for cast products is sensitive to economic changes.

Employment growth in patternmaking will be slow over the next few years
because better and cheaper parts are now produced by modern machining
methods, eliminating the need for castings.  Therefore, fewer patterns will
need to be made and maintained.



WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS

Precision Foundry Mold and Coremakers in California earn a median wage of
$8.71 per hour.  Apprentices and trainees usually receive minimum wage to
start.  The median wage for Precision Molders Shapers, Casters, and Carvers
(except jewelry and foundry) is $10.51.  The median wage for Precision
Pattern Makers Model Makers, Lay-Out Workers, and Cutters is $7.94.
Apprentices and trainees can start at minimum wage.  The standard workweek
is 40 hours, five days a week.

Busy shops may run two or three shifts; the night crews are usually paid a
shift differential.  Patternmakers generally work day shift only.  Overtime
is occasionally required, and paid at one and one-half the basic rate.
Retirement benefits, medical and dental plans, and paid vacation and
holidays are among the fringe benefits generally offered.



ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING

Employers seldom set specific educational requirements for applicants, but
prefer high school graduates with a background in science, mathematics,
shop courses, mechanical drawing, industrial engineering, or business. 
This preference applies especially to prospective Patternmakers.

Workers may get training either through an apprenticeship program or on the
job.  To enter an apprenticeship program, a person must be at least 18 years
of age and employable by a foundry.  Most apprentices start as helpers.
Molders and Coremakers generally must complete a three- to four-year
apprenticeship program, or its equivalent, to attain full journey-level
status.

A five-year program, or equivalent experience, is necessary for the journey-
level Patternmaker.  When workers are trained on the job, the length of
training depends on the complexity of the job.



ADVANCEMENT

Promotional opportunities exist for Molders, Coremakers and Patternmakers
who know their job well and who have supervisory ability.  Advancement to
lead person, supervisor, and management is possible in many shops.  Those
who understand and can apply the procedures of metallurgy, sand testing and
control, and can manage people, are the most likely to be promoted.




 

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