Engineering patternmaker


What they do

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.

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.

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

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.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.