Injection moulding operator

Injection moulding operators

Description

Injection moulding operators operate and monitor injection moulding machines, in order to cast products from thermoplastic materials. They regulate the temperature, pressure, and volume of plastic, according to pre-defined specifications. Injection moulding operators also remove finished products and cut-away excess material, using a knife or other hand tools.

Includes people producing jewellery and bijouterie.

The duties of an injection moulding operator include, but are not limited to:

  • Following safety procedures to protect themselves and coworkers from injury or exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Inspecting moulds for damage and defects and repairing them as needed
  • Reading blueprints and other instructions to determine the correct settings for a mould machine
  • Monitoring gauges on machinery to ensure that it is operating within normal parameters
  • Operating machines that inject plastic or other materials into moulds to form products such as automobile parts or household goods such as dishes and television remote controls
  • Monitoring equipment to ensure that it is operating properly and has sufficient supplies of raw materials and coolant
  • Installing moulds in automated machines and operating robotic arms to perform tasks such as mixing or spraying materials
  • Inspecting moulds and equipment for defects, repairing them as needed, and maintaining records of all work performed
  • Preparing moulds for use by cleaning them, inspecting them for cracks or defects, and applying release agents to help the material release from the mould easily

Working environment

The injection moulding operator works in a factory setting, often on the night shift. The job is physically demanding, as the operator must lift heavy molds and stand for long periods of time. In addition, the operator must be able to work quickly and accurately to meet production deadlines.

The work environment is usually loud and may be hot, as the injection moulding machines generate a lot of heat. The operator is typically responsible for a specific machine and must be able to troubleshoot problems that occur.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to injection moulding operator:

injection moulding setter
plastic moulding operative
plastic injection moulding operator
injection moulding operative
plastic molding operator
plastic molding worker
thermoplastic moulding worker
injection molding worker
injection molding setter
injection moulding machine operator
injection molding operator
thermoplastic moulding operative
thermoplastic molding worker
plastic moulding worker
plastic moulder
thermoplastic moulder
injection molding operative
wax injection operator
injection moulder
plastic molding operative
injection molding machine operator
thermoplastic molding operator
plastic injection moulding machine operator
plastic injection molding machine operator
thermoplastic molding operative
injection moulding worker
plastic injection molding operator

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally the minimum required to work as an injection moulding operator.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Injection moulding operator is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Injection moulding operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to injection moulding operator.

blow moulding machine operator
compression moulding machine operator
cake press operator
vacuum forming machine operator
plastic heat treatment equipment operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of injection moulding operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of injection moulding operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

automated assembly line operator
plastic and rubber products manufacturing supervisor
pulp control operator
air separation plant operator
industrial robot controller

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of injection moulding operator.

  • Injection moulding machine parts: Parts of the machine that melts and injects molten plastic into moulds such as the hopper, the reciprocating screw, the injection barrel and the injection cylinder.
  • Dies: The qualities and applications of various kinds of dies, the different components of a die (such as the die block, punch plate, pierce punch and others) and the types of die used in specialised manufacturing processes ( such as extrusion dies, drawing dies, forming dies, cutting dies, compound dies, and others).
  • Quality standards: The national and international requirements, specifications and guidelines to ensure that products, services and processes are of good quality and fit for purpose.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of injection moulding operator.

  • Optimise production processes parameters: Optimise and maintain the parameters of the production process such as flow, temperature or pressure.
  • Monitor gauge: Oversee the data presented by a gauge concerning the measurement of pressure, temperature, thickness of a material, and others.
  • Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
  • Install press dies: Install and coat dies on presses by using handtools, bolts and clamps.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Trim excess material: Trim surplus material of fabric such as fiberglass mats, cloth, plastics or rubber.
  • Monitor automated machines: Continuously check up on the automated machine’s set-up and execution or make regular control rounds. If necessary, record and interpret data on the operating conditions of installations and equipment in order to identify abnormalities.
  • Tend injection moulding machine: Operate and monitor a machine that contains a reciprocating screw that forces the raw material forwards while inducing melting, and injects the molten plastic into a mould.
  • Consult technical resources: Read and interpret technical resources such as digital or paper drawings and adjustment data in order to properly set up a machine or working tool, or to assemble mechanical equipment.
  • Set up the controller of a machine: Set up and give commands to a machine by dispatching the appropriate data and input into the (computer) controller corresponding with the desired processed product.
  • Monitor valves: Monitor and accordingly adjust the valves in order to allow a specific amount of liquids (such as ammonia sulfuric acid or viscous soap) or steam into the mixer or machine.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of injection moulding operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Types of waxes: Waxes are organic compounds composed of alkyl chains and they can have different origins. There are animal waxes such as beewax, plant waxes such as soja or palm wax, and petroleum derived waxes.
  • Plastic welding: Methods to join softened plastic surfaces, usually by heating and applying pressure, such as heat sealing, laser welding, high frequency welding and ultrasonic welding.
  • Types of moulding: The characteristics and procedures used in the various types of moulding such as blow moulding, compression moulding, injection moulding and thermoforming.
  • Types of plastic: Types of plastic materials and their chemical composition, physical properties, possible issues and usage cases.
  • Jewellery processes: Materials and processes involved in creating jewellery items like earrings, necklaces, rings, brackets, etc.
  • Manufacturing of jewellery: The manufacturing of different type of jewellery such as rings or necklaces out of various metal types such as silver, gold, diamond and other precious stones.
  • Manufacturing of daily use goods: The manufacturing of items used in the daily life, personal use or daily practice. These products include protective safety equipment, drawing equipment, stamps, umbrellas, cigarette lighters, baskets, candles, and many other miscellaneous articles.
  • Medical devices: Equipment and devices used in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of medical issues. Medical devices cover a wide range of products, ranging from syringes and protheses to MRI machinery and hearing aids.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.
  • Manufacturing of sports equipment: The manufacture of products and equipment used for both outdoor and indoor sports activities, such as balls, rackets, ski’s, surfboards, fishing, hunting, skating or fitness centre equipment.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of injection moulding operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Finish plastic products: Finish the product by sanding, branding and polishing the plastic surface.
  • Select mould types: Select the appropriate type and size of mould based on the operation.
  • Add colour: Add the required colour according to specifications for tinting batch.
  • Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
  • Tend blow moulding machine: Monitor, set-up and adjust the blow moulding machine controls and mandrel using the control panel or handtools in order to mould plastic products according to specifications.
  • Perform test run: Perform tests putting a system, machine, tool or other equipment through a series of actions under actual operating conditions in order to assess its reliability and suitability to realise its tasks, and adjust settings accordingly.
  • Melt wax: Safely heat wax to the correct temperature so it melts and becomes a pliable susbtance.
  • Maintain equipment: Regularly inspect and perform all required activities to maintain the equipment in functional order prior or after its use.
  • Mix moulding and casting material: Measure and mix ingredients for casting and moulding materials, according to appropriate formula.
  • Maintain mould parts: Carry out minor repair tasks and maintenance of moulds and mould parts.
  • Extract products from moulds: Remove finished products from moulds and examine them in detail for anomalies.
  • Feed hoppers: Feed hoppers with the required materials using various tools such as lifting equipment or shovels.
  • Move filled moulds: Correctly replace filled-up moulds; understand how to load moulds into the oven and how to store filled-up moulds onto a rack.
  • Report defective manufacturing materials: Maintain required company records and forms in order to report any defective materials or questionable conditions of manufacturing machinery and equipment.
  • Operate lifting equipment: Transport heavy objects using lifting equipment such as cranes, forklifts etc.
  • Clean moulds: Clean the mould using water, grease or oil, washing and scraping them by hand.
  • Grind wasted plastic: Grind the wasted plastic into powder for further reuse.
  • Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.

ISCO group and title

8142 – Plastic products machine operators


References
  1. Injection moulding operator – ESCO
  2. Metal and Plastic Machine Workers – Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Injection Mold Operator Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – ClimbtheLadder
  4. Featured image: By Mahart922 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on July 18, 2022

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