Casting Technician

 27 November 2012

Casting involves pouring molten metal into a mould and allowing it to solidify. Casting technicians work with a range of metals to produce jewellery pieces.

Casting can be used to make a whole piece of jewellery or component parts. Photo: Holts Academy
Casting can be used to make a whole piece of jewellery or component parts. Photo: Holts Academy

What do casting technicians do?

Casting involves pouring molten metal into a mould and allowing it to solidify. Casting can be used to make a whole piece of jewellery or component parts.

Casting can be used to make a whole piece of jewellery or component parts.

The technique allows the same piece to be made over and over again exactly the same, but casting can also be used to make one-off pieces.

Casting technicians work with a variety of metals, including gold, silver, platinum, palladium and titanium and pewter.

Casting can be used to make jewellery in:

  • individual hand-made studio pieces
  • batch production
  • large-scale commercial volume production.

Casting can also be used to make jewellery parts for repairs.

What is the job like? 

‘Lost wax’ is the most commonly-used method, particularly for bulk production. There are several stages: 

  • making a rubber mould from a master pattern
  • injecting wax into the mould which, when cooled, makes a perfect copy of the original pattern
  • repeating the wax injection to create multiple waxes
  • joining several waxes round a central core to form a ‘tree’
  • embedding the waxes into the ‘investment slurry’ in a flask
  • firing the flask in a kiln so the rubber burns away, forming a cavity
  • pouring molten metal into the cavity left by the wax.

After this the jewellery pieces are cut from the tree and finished by cleaning and polishing.

Casts can be made from CAD (computer-aided designs) or hand-drawn designs. Where CAD is used, 'rapid prototyping' technology can be used to make sample pieces.   

Models for casting can also be made in resin, metal or clay. 3D scanning allows the use of almost any physical object as a model for casting.

Casting technicians usually work for a jewellery manufacturing company. In a company, they may spend all their time on casting work.

In a smaller jewellery company, someone who works as a casting technician may do other jewellery work. They might make or repair pieces of jewellery, using bench jewellery techniques and skills.

How do I become a casting technician?

An employer may expect you to have other jewellery skills, such as stone setting.

If you are involved in all stages of the casting process, from model making to finishing, you need to:

  • be creative and good with your hands to produce hand-carved wax models
  • have good IT skills to use CAD/CAM
  • have some knowledge of metals
  • work very accurately, as you are dealing with precious metals
  • have high standards of workmanship.

What qualifications and training do I need?

There are apprenticeships in casting, leading to a Level 2 qualification. It is possible to go onto an advanced apprenticeship, at Level 3 or 4.

You will need good GCSEs, including maths and science subjects, for these apprenticeships.

There is also a Level 3 Diploma in casting technology.

Bradford College offers courses in casting technology, including:

  • a foundation degree, offered on a part-time, flexible basis with work-based projects
  • a BEng degree, which can be studied flexibly over four to six years.

These qualifications are not specifically related to the jewellery trade. They cover the engineering manufacturing skills, rather than jewellery design skills.

Many people go into casting after spending time in other parts of the jewellery industry. They may have trained in jewellery making or jewellery design.

An employer may expect you to have other jewellery skills, such as stone setting.

There are a number of short courses available around the UK in casting techniques, for jewellery and other craft applications. Although there are no set entry requirements for these courses, some expect applicants to have some prior knowledge or experience of other jewellery-making techniques or working with metal.

Some courses lead to accredited qualifications, while others are for people interested in jewellery as a hobby. Check carefully that the course you are applying for is the right one for you.

The Institute of Cast Metal Engineers (ICME) offers short courses for technicians to add to or update their skills.

What can I earn?

As a casting technician in a small jewellery company, you may earn around £22,000 per year.


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