Various technologies exist for creating plastic items, including extrusion and injection moulding. Manufacturing firms create hollow one-piece items such as bottles or jars by blow moulding, a process of using compressed air to expand hot plastic against the internal surfaces of a heated two-piece mold. Blow moulding operators set up, operate and tear down the machines involved in the process.
Almost all manufacturing settings involve exposure to safety hazards of various kinds including, in the case of blow moulding, proximity to very hot materials and parts. Therefore, blow moulding operators must wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as glasses and gloves. A typical day includes standing for long periods and working at the pace required by production demands.
A blow moulding operator sets up one or more machines, observes their operation, ensures the manufactured products meet specifications, makes adjustments as necessary and tears down the equipment. He removes finished products from the molds and may trim excess plastic from parts. Some operators perform minor or routine maintenance and repairs.
Effective blow moulding operators can troubleshoot problems and perform simple repairs. They know how to use correct tools. Operators must also demonstrate monitoring skills, using visual observation of gages and listening to mechanical sounds to make sure the equipment is working properly. According to the Occupational Information Network, a good blow moulding operator also needs manual dexterity and strength to lift, pull, push and carry objects.
According to the Occupational Information Network, employers typically require a high school diploma before considering a candidate for this kind of job. Previous experience, an apprenticeship or other training on the job, may be required, too. Training usually involves helping and watching a more experienced employee from a few months to a year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that, as of May 2009, operators working in the plastic parts manufacturing industry earned an average wage of $13.14 hourly or $27,330 annually. However, job prospects for moulders may decline from 2008 through 2018.