Plastics engineers design, create and manufacture plastic products. "Vinyl,
nylon, film,...these are all plastics," says Janette Piastuch. She is with
the Society for Plastics Engineers. "Look around you and you'll see many,
many things that are made out of this substance."
Some plastic engineers research what types of plastics work best in different
situations. They also develop new kinds of plastics. There are about 21,000
different kinds of plastics out there, says Larry Dawson. He is a plastics
Some find new ways to use plastics. Using computer-aided design (CAD),
they can develop different objects ranging from pop containers to automotive
parts, says Dawson.
Other plastic engineers oversee the manufacturing of plastic products.
"These processes involve heating the resin and filling molds," says Dawson.
"Some plastics flow like water, others are like oil. Others don't flow at
all." This means different methods must be used to make different objects.
Some chemical and mechanical engineers work in the plastics industry because
design principles in plastics are the same as they are in other areas.
Plastics engineers work in manufacturing companies, in materials application
and design labs or in other areas of engineering. Some work as consultants.
Some teach and others work for the government.
Working hours vary. They depend on the type of work. "You can be working
regular 40-hour weeks or you may have to work extra to meet a deadline," says
This career is not physically demanding. Physical activity varies with
the employer. "It all depends if you're working for a small design company
or are inside a larger plant," says Dawson. "Some employers want engineers
to do real hands-on work, others don't."
Create and manufacture plastic products
Watch a one-minute video showing what it's like to work in this career or related careers
Note: This movie requires QuickTime.