April 03, 2020

Composite Worker

A composite worker follows written specifications and works in a production environment with fibreglass and resin.

In South Africa we produce many boats using fibreglass and other composite materials, as they are light and strong. Ships also require components and parts manufactured from composites. There are a range of different techniques used, from basic hand lay up using glass or cloth and resin, to more advanced techniques such as vacuum bagging and vacuum infusion.

A composite worker follows written specifications and works in a production environment with fibreglass and resin. This means they must wear protective clothing and they must work well in a team, as well as being able to work with minimal supervision. This is a physical job that requires being on your feet for long periods of time and sometimes having to lift heavy objects. When trimming, cutting and sanding fibreglass, a lot of dust is created and strict safety guidelines must be followed as a composite worker. A composite worker will report on mixing of resins and log materials and quantities to a supervisor and must be able to accurately follow the build specifications supplied.

Key tasks:

• Assemble, fabricate and repair products from composite parts and materials.
• Track, record and document work, materials, and products.
• Fabricate and prepare moulds.
• Lay out composite materials for moulding.                                            

Entry requirements/training:

Most composite work is learned on the job, but there are some short courses and University of Technology and University courses available. Qualifications for composite technician jobs often include computer and engineering skills, but there is no specific educational path for this career. Some employers may require experience in manufacturing, engineering or a related field, certification, or a bachelor’s degree or higher for composite technician positions.

Career advancement:

This is career with clear opportunities for advancement. For example, you could start as a semi-skilled worker grinding and sanding or cutting balsa. You could then become a laminator or a gel coast finisher (NQF level 2 – 4). The next step up is an infusion operator (NQF 4 – 6) and finally a composite engineer (NQF 7 – 10).

Associated job opportunities:

Composites is one of the fastest growing manufacturing technologies in the world as people look for lighter and stronger manufacturing materials and methods. This means composites are also used in the automotive, aerospace, construction and wind energy sectors. Composites are also used to manufacture surf boards, kiteboards and skateboards, so you will have many different job opportunities if you decide not to work in the marine sector.