Laminators, often referred to as fiberglass lay-up workers, construct and repair products that are laminated with glass-fiber materials, such as plumbing fixtures, aircraft parts, sports equipment, and boat hulls. Synthetics are more commonly used today because they have tensile strength as high as many metal materials. Laminators operate power tools and use hand tools to construct, shape, and repair these products. When they are making new products, they are responsible for approving dies, templates, and cutout patterns. They also use photographs, blueprints, samples, and customer specifications to determine the correct design. When they are doing repair work, they often check the thickness of the synthetic material, its density, and the contour for damage or defects.
Laminators check molds to make sure all moisture has been removed. They prepare the surface with lacquer and wax, then tape off non-laminated areas. They cut and shape glass-fiber fabric or mats to prevent puckers and pockets. Then they put plastic resin on the mold and spread the fabric over it. They pat the cloth into place by hand brushing it. They often apply a second layer of plastic resin and, when the desired thickness is achieved, they trim the edges to finish the job.
Laminators should be in excellent physical condition because the work is physically demanding. They should be detail-oriented and have excellent manual dexterity. If they wish to advance to supervisory or sales positions, they should be good at dealing with people, have an outgoing personality, and be neat and clean in appearance.
The earnings of laminators varies greatly depending on the industry they work in and the products they manufacture. Beginning workers usually make $5 per hour, and those with experience may earn between $8 and $18 per hour. The more complex the work, the higher the pay scale. Some employers pay wages plus piecework or piecework only. Piecework can pay up to $100 to $200 per piece. Benefits may include paid holiday and vacation, sick leave, retirement plan, and group health and life insurance.
Training and Education
A common educational background for laminators is a high school diploma or vocational school training. Many employers prefer this type of background as well as some mechanical and mathematical aptitude. Knowledge of chemistry can be very helpful in securing employment. Workers must be eager to learn, have good reading and writing skills, and be trustworthy and dependable. Some employers hire workers with no experience and train them on the job. Training through community colleges and vocational schools can be very advantageous.
Advancement in laminator jobs usually comes in the form of increased wages. Employees advance according to the quality of their work, their level of production, and by their amount of experience. Laminators can advance all the way to foreman. Workers with the experience, the personality, and knowledge of manufacturers' marketable products can move into sales positions. Workers in smaller shops often have little opportunity for advancement. Some workers eventually open their own laminating businesses. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
Demand for laminators is expected to remain moderate over the next 10 years. The glass-fiber lamination industry will experience moderate growth due to demand for products such as boats, automotive equipment, furniture, household appliances, and other products. Demand for fully-qualified laminators will be highest in large manufacturing areas.