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A decorating worker is someone who paints and coats a wide range of products, including cars and jewelry. Decorating workers typically wear masks or respirators, and they often must stand for long periods. When using a spray gun, they may have to bend, stoop, or crouch in uncomfortable positions to reach different parts of the products.
Millions of items are covered by paint, plastic, varnish, or some other type of coating. Painting or coating is used to make a product more attractive or protect it from the elements. The paint finish on an automobile, for example, makes the vehicle more attractive and provides protection from corrosion. Some responsibilities of a decorating worker include:
Before workers begin to apply the paint or other coating, they often need to prepare the surface by sanding or cleaning it carefully to prevent dust from becoming trapped under the paint. Sometimes, masking is required, which involves carefully covering portions of the product with tape and paper. After the product is prepared, workers may use a number of techniques to apply the paint or coating. Perhaps the most straightforward technique is dipping an item in a large vat of paint or some other coating. Spraying products with a solution of paint or another coating is also common. Some factories use automated painting systems.
The following are types of decorating workers:
Dippers use power hoists to immerse products in vats of paint, liquid plastic, or other solutions. This technique is commonly used for small parts in electronic equipment, such as cell phones.
Spray machine operators use spray guns to coat metal, wood, ceramic, fabric, paper, and food products with paint and other coating solutions.
Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders position the spray guns, set the nozzles, and synchronize the action of the guns with the speed of the conveyor carrying products through the machine and through drying ovens. During the operation of the painting machines, these workers tend the equipment, watch gauges on the control panel, and check products to ensure that they are being painted evenly. The operator may use a manual spray gun to “touch up” flaws.
Painting, coating, and decorating workers paint, coat, or decorate products such as furniture, glass, pottery, toys, cakes, and books. Some workers coat confectionery, baked goods, and other food products with melted chocolate, cheese, oils, sugar, or other substances. Silver, tin, and copper solutions are frequently sprayed on glass to make mirrors.
Transportation equipment painters are the best-known group of painting and coating workers. There are three major specialties:
Transportation equipment workers who refinish old or damaged cars, trucks, and buses in automotive body repair and paint shops normally apply paint by hand with a controlled spray gun. Those who work in repair shops are among the most highly-skilled manual spray operators: they perform intricate, detailed work and mix paints to match the original colour, a task that is especially difficult if the colour has faded. Preparing an old car is similar to painting other metal objects.
Transportation equipment painters who work on new cars oversee several automated steps. A modern car is first dipped in an anticorrosion bath, coated with coloured paint, and then painted in several coats of clear paint to prevent damage to the coloured paint.
Other transportation equipment painters either paint equipment too large to paint automatically—such as ships or giant construction equipment—or do touchup work to fix flaws in the paint caused by damage either during assembly or during the automated painting process.
Painting, coating, and decorating is usually done in a specially ventilated area. Workers typically wear masks or respirators that cover their nose and mouth.
Most decorating workers need a high school diploma or equivalent. Although training for new workers usually lasts from a few days to several months, those who paint automobiles generally need one to two years of training and experience. Decorating workers in the manufacturing sector usually must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers in other sectors may be willing to hire workers without a high school diploma.
Automobile repair painters often get training in technical school to learn the intricacies of mixing and applying different types of paint. Training for beginning painting and coating machine setters, operators, and tenders and for painting, coating, and decorating workers may last from a few days to a few months. Workers who modify the operation of computer-controlled equipment may require additional training in computer operations and programming.
Transportation equipment painters typically learn their skills on the job or through postsecondary education in painting. Few decorating workers other than automobile painters obtain certification. Some workers make elaborate or decorative designs. For example, some automotive painters specialize in making custom designs for vehicles. Workers must be able to properly blend new paint colours to perfectly match existing colours on a surface. Because workers must operate and maintain sprayers that apply paints and coatings, they should have good mechanical skills.