08.08.2023 / Dario Schmidt

I am the Best Polymech Apprentice in Switzerland

Actually, it all started with a joke I made in our vocational school class. When my colleagues told me what workpieces they had made to qualify for the GDW Cup (which takes place every two years and aims to encourage young professionals like me), I scoffed a bit and claimed that I could certainly do better. The colleagues accepted the bet – and a great adventure began for me.

I would never have dreamed that I would actually reach first place in the final. At the ranking ceremony, the eleven names were read out and after my name had still not been called at fourth place, it became really exciting. At first I could hardly believe that I had landed in first place. Then I was just overjoyed. It's amazing that I'm actually the best second-year Polymech apprentice in the whole of Switzerland. I'm very happy and mega proud.

My parents and friends were of course delighted with me. I received a lot of congratulations, including from my training company at Muller Martini in Zofingen. There I have been doing the four-year apprenticeship as a polymechanic EFZ for two years. After I decided to take part in the competition, my vocational trainer Martin Richner supported me very well. I was able to practice special techniques or processes for many hours and was at the lathe for a whole eight hours on the day before the final, so that I could practice properly under pressure.

I had one small disadvantage, as the lathe at Muller Martini for practicing is the same type as at the finale, but several technical features have not yet been implemented. I therefore had to carry out some work steps manually, which not only took me more time, but also meant that I had to work extremely precisely. The turned part that I had to produce for the qualification within four hours – a shaft with two threaded bushings - was created on the machine at Muller Martini. The work was finally measured by the vocational trainer and the data sent to the jury. Then we had to wait.

When I got the information about qualifying for the finals, my ambition was of course even more aroused. In preparation, I not only practiced on the machine to work even faster and more accurately. I also researched which turned parts had been made in the finals in recent years. I made drawings of these myself and then rebuilt these parts. In this way, I learned a lot more, which helped me in the final.

On the final day itself, the pressure was very great. But I had a lot of fun working like that. The initial excitement quickly subsided and I was really in the flow. In the first part, we had to make a shaft with three sleeves and a left-hand thread. Here was the first shock: I had never turned a left-hand thread before. I then went through the possible sequence in my mind and simply got to work. We only had two and a half hours. My strategy was to rough as much as possible, that is, to remove quickly, and then to smooth the surface during the slower finishing process. That worked well. I also made the right decision when clamping the part and only had a small grinding mark at the end, which deducted some points.

The second part was about a series production of four parts, we had two hours. Since the drawing was measured in millimeters and inches, we had to make additional conversions and keep moving the machine. In addition, the work had to be very precise, because it was measured to twelve thousandths of a millimeter. Imagine, that's a third of a hair. It was very demanding. 

I also have to mention that the final took place on a very sunny and therefore hot day. The temperatures in the hall with a glass facade and ten lathes running were so high that I had to take this into account when machining the turned part. If the part got too hot while turning, I put it aside briefly so it could cool down. In this way, I made sure that the required dimensions were correct later on.

It certainly helped me in the final that at Muller Martini we don't just work on series production during our training, but are also allowed to process many complex parts for assembly or technology. This meant that I had to find good solutions for multi-layered tasks right from the start. In the first two years of my apprenticeship, I also learned to work in a very concentrated and disciplined manner. And I had prepared myself very well for the partial exam that was due at the end of the second year of my apprenticeship. All that helped me.

For now, I'm enjoying my new eBike, which I received as a gift as a winner and which I use regularly to ride to work in Zofingen. But the success has also got me a bit excited. I'm very interested in applying for the preselection for Swiss Skills, the Swiss vocational championships. We'll see what my chances are there...

Best regards,

Dario Schmidt
Apprentice polymechanic at Muller Martini,
now in the third year of apprenticeship 

PS: Would you like to learn more about vocational training at Muller Martini? You can find all the info on our website future.mullermartini.com!
08.08.2023 Dario Schmidt