Fabrication engineering tradespersons cut, shape, join and finish metal to make, maintain or repair metal products and structures. They may produce moulds or patterns for metal castings, apply coatings and work with a variety of materials.
To become a fabrication engineering tradesperson you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in Engineering - Fabrication Trade. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.
Fabrication engineering tradespeople may perform the following tasks:
Fabrication engineering tradespeople work in workshops or production areas that can be noisy, hot and dusty. They usually spend most of their day standing and often need to bend, crouch or climb. Some may be required to work in confined spaces or at heights, and shift work may be involved. They may work in a team or alone. Workshops are generally spacious, ventilated and well lit. Fabrication engineering tradespeople must be aware of safety regulations and must wear protective equipment to minimise heat and noise levels, and to guard against corrosive chemicals.
Fabrication engineering tradespeople work for engineering and construction firms, motor vehicle and other manufacturers, the minerals industry, shipyards, and electricity and gas supply authorities. Some are employed by federal, state or territory government departments, or local government authorities. They may work in metropolitan areas, large regional industrial centres, and on remote mining and processing projects. Job opportunities depend on the level of local and overseas demand for Australian-manufactured goods and for minerals and energy products, the rate of technological change, and the number of new projects in heavy engineering, mining or steel construction. With experience and further study, competent tradespeople can upgrade their qualifications to technician, associate, technologist or engineer level.
A blacksmith shapes bars, rods and blocks of metal using hand or power tools to produce or repair metal articles. Blacksmiths also make and repair agricultural equipment, mining and quarrying machinery, or ornamental steelwork such as gates and fences. They can specialise in forge-smithing, hammer-smithing or tool-smithing.
A boilermaker (heavy fabrication) cuts, shapes, assembles and joins heavy gauge metal parts to produce or repair containers that have to withstand pressure, such as ships, boilers and storage tanks. Boilermakers trained in structural fabrication may be involved in fitting, assembling and joining aluminium and steel in the construction or repair of towers, bridges, structural supports, girders and ships.
An engineering patternmaker designs, constructs and machines full size engineering models (called patterns) out of polyurethane, aluminium, cast iron, epoxy resin and timber, using digital 3D or 2D information. A completed pattern (called tooling) is supplied to related manufacturers like foundries, die casters, vacuum formers and machinery producers.
A foundry worker assists tradespeople and semi-skilled workers to cast metal into shapes used as parts for machinery, motor vehicles, railway engines, stove parts and wheels.
A moulder/coremaker makes sand moulds from which many kinds of metal objects are cast. They may make moulds for goods ranging from truck wheels, crankshafts and bulldozer blades, to door handles and water taps, or for the structural frames of equipment used in mining, quarrying and forestry. The moulding process is commonly automated or semi-automated.
A sheetmetal worker (light fabrication) manufactures a variety of products and components using thin sheetmetal materials. A sheetmetal worker uses hand tools, power tools and other machines to mark out, cut, shape and join a variety of sheetmetal materials. They work with galvanised steel, mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium, copper and brass. Sheetmetal workers shape and form the cut material into products by operating sheetmetal shaping and forming machines such as brake presses, and folding, bending and rolling machines.
A welder - first class constructs or repairs metal products by joining parts either manually (using a variety of welding methods, including electric arc, MIG and TIG welding or oxyacetylene welding) or by machine. These parts are used to complete structures and equipment (such as ships, bridges, pipelines, vehicles and domestic appliances).