Metalcasting Industry Year in Review

Modern Casting Staff

December 2020

Pratt & Whitney plans multi-million investment in facility for turbine airfoil production, castings 

Pratt & Whitney (East Hartford, Connecticut) a division of Raytheon Technologies Corp., said it plans to invest at least $650 million through 2027 in a world-class turbine airfoil production facility in Asheville, North Carolina. The 1-million-sq.-ft. facility will house an advanced casting foundry for the production of turbine airfoils; the company will also conduct machining, coating and finishing of airfoils at the new location. 

Rio Tinto launches new aluminum alloys to support recycling 

AFS Corporate Member Rio Tinto introduced a new family of unique aluminum alloys designed to allow North American diecasters to increase their use of recycled content in the production of automotive parts. 

The new alloy series has been developed for high pressure vacuum diecasters to mix with their own scrap and recycled cleaned crushed wheels. As an alternative to buying lower grade secondary remelt ingots, the final blend will cost less, have a lower carbon footprint, and meet stringent industry standards. 

January 2021

Mitsui Kinzoku Die-Casting Technology America to open Georgia plant 

Mitsui Kinzoku Die-Casting Technology America is building a $20 million facility in Griffin, Georgia. The project is expected to create 30 jobs, with the potential for more as the plant expands. The facility will produce automotive products, focusing on ones for electric vehicles. 

Craft Pattern & Mold adds 3 large machining centers 

Holding to its mantra of continuous reinvestment in the business despite the uncertainties of 2020, AFS Corporate Member Craft Pattern & Mold (Montrose, Minnesota) took delivery of three new Haas machines that expanded its ability to handle large tooling and secondary machining of castings. 
The company manufactures prototypes for plastic and metal parts as well as production tooling for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. 

Naval Foundry and Propeller Center makes 200,000-lb. casting for submarine 

The Naval Foundry and Propeller Center (NFPC) in Philadelphia, a detachment of Norfolk Naval Shipyard and an AFS Corporate Member, made the first casting for a Columbia-Class submarine late this summer, weighing 200,000 lbs. 

NFPC is a Department of Defense manufacturing facility that specializes in advanced engineering, castings and precision machining that supports the mission of the U.S. Navy. Work done at the foundry supports the Columbia Class submarine program, a class of submarines that will replace the aging Ohio Class submarines and ensure sustainment of the most survivable leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, according to an NGPC press statement. 

Kent Foundry set for $3.5 million project 

Kent Foundry (Greenville, Michigan) was set to begin work on a $3.5 million expansion project that would bring 30 new employees to the metalcaster. Kent is a manufacturer of gray and ductile iron castings, and its parent company Canerector Inc. (Toronto) announced the plans in July of last year. 

Brinco Planning Indiana steel foundry

According to local reports, Brinco (Wilmington, Delaware) was planning to open a steel casting plant in Bristol, Indiana. The “Elkhart Truth” reported Brinco will invest almost $35 million and is planning to hire 250 workers. The plant would produce rail parts. 

In 2019, Brinco purchased the facility for $10 million. The company intends to invest $4.5 million to improve the space, and also spend $15 million on equipment at the 430,000 sq.-ft. facility. 

February 2021

Construction of copper casting building to begin 

IBC Advanced Alloys in Franklin, Indiana, was planning to invest more than $5 million to build a 32,000-sq.-ft. copper casting facility on its current property, according to a “Daily Journal” report by Leeann Doerflein. Also known as Non Ferrous Products Inc., IBC manufactures beryllium and copper advanced alloys parts for the defense, aerospace, automotive, telecommunications and precision manufacturing industries. 

Dotson expansion in the works 

AFS Corporate Member Dotson Iron Castings, which supplies precision parts for farm machinery, heavy trucks, industrial equipment and the construction industry and more, revealed a major expansion in the works at its Mankato, Minnesota, plant, including the addition of new meeting rooms, break areas, locker rooms, and a rooftop patio. 

Missouri foundry seeks to build, grow, create more jobs 

Lakeside Casting in Monroe City, Missouri, announced plans to buy out the remaining $600,000 of its real estate lease with the city and expand this year, according to area’s local “The Herald-Whig” newspaper. 

Founded by four partners with over 150 years of combined experience in the diecasting business, Lakeside markets itself as “Your Global Link to Zinc,” and makes component parts such as ignition assemblies for trucks, natural gas meters, key casting for the automotive industry and many other OEM parts. 

Appalachian Cast Products poised for growth with new investment

Premier Engineered Products (PEP; Grand Rapids, Michigan), which owns Appalachian Cast Products (Abingdon, Virginia), has a new investor—Charter Growth Capital Fund (CGCF), which has provided mezzanine debt in support of PEP’s recapitalization. Birmingham, Michigan-based Colfax Creek is the lead investor in the transaction. 

Colfax Creek and foundry veteran Mike Ryan, formed PEP in January 2019 to recapitalize Appalachian Cast Products (ACP) and integrate Premier Die Casting’s production into its Abingdon facility. Managed by principals of Charter Capital Partners, CGCF invests up to $5 million of mezzanine debt and/or equity capital into lower middle-market companies. 

Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry creates $100,000 engineering scholarship 

Manitowoc County high school graduates planning to attend the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UWGB) may have an opportunity for financial support through a new scholarship fund created by AFS Corporate Member Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry (WAF), with support of the Schwartz family, which has owned and operated the company since its founding in 1909. WAF donated $100,000 to create the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Engineering Scholarship fund through the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay Foundation. 

March 2021

Lawton welcomes Penn-Mar to iron foundry group

AFS Corporate Member The C.A. Lawton Co. (DePere, Wisconsin) acquired Penn-Mar, a gray and ductile iron foundry in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Penn-Mar manufactures multi-cored, gray and ductile iron castings ranging from 150 to 5,000 lbs. Using an air-set, nobake molding process, it serves the refrigeration/air conditioning, pump/compressor, and motor/ generator industries. 

Kimura installs 4th furnace—with 1-ton capacity 

A new Pillar Induction furnace with 1-ton melting capacity was installed at AFS Corporate Member Kimura Foundry America Inc. (Shelbyville, Indiana). The addition enables Kimura to meet customer demand for heavier casting parts, particularly in the construction, agricultural machinery, power generation, oil and gas, pump and compressor industries. 

The foundry also expects to improve pouring efficiency and casting turnaround thanks to the high-capacity furnace’s ability to pour multiple parts simultaneously. The company began operating in November 2018 with three furnaces: two with 300-lbs. melting capacity and one with 500 lbs. All its furnaces are connected to a furnace monitoring system for safety and stabilized operation.

Victaulic acquires Waupaca facility in Pennsylvania

Victaulic (Easton, Pennsylvania), a global manufacturer of mechanical pipe joining, fire protection and flow control solutions, purchased a 220,000-sq.-ft. Waupaca manufacturing plant in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. 

When operating at full capacity, the facility will increase Victaulic’s foundry production capacity by 70% in the U.S. and allow for future growth as Victaulic’s business demands increase. The facility, including two foundry molding lines, will also enable Victaulic to produce larger scale products. 

TRM Equity acquires all assets of Elyria Foundry and Hodge Foundry 

TRM Equity acquired Elyria Foundry and Hodge Foundry (Elyria, Ohio), a company specializing in ductile iron castings up to 200,000 lbs. and serving many markets including defense, oil and gas, construction equipment and mining. Elyria Foundry has operated since the early 1900s and has developed a strong technical and metallurgical team that drives its success. 

April 2021

Three-part renovation in progress at Progressive Foundry 

AFS Corporate Member Progressive Foundry, a ductile and gray iron matchplate job shop about 40 miles northwest of Des Moines, completed two-thirds of a three-phase, $6.8 million renovation of its Perry, Iowa, facilities. 

Phase 1, 15,000 sq.ft. of new construction completed in November 2020, nearly doubled the size of the foundry’s core room; it also included remodeling of a 25,000-sq.ft. purchased building that now houses maintenance and storage. Phase 2 in Spring 2021 comprised a new state-of-the-art employee center with men’s and women’s locker rooms and large indoor and outdoor patio break areas with a fully-equipped kitchen. A new metallurgical lab, as well as offices for the quality manager and all Progressive’s foremen, are in the same building, which, in emergencies, is also becoming the company’s storm shelter. 

The foundry’s full upgrade is projected to conclude early in 2022 with Phase 3’s newly constructed office building for management and administrative personnel. 

ACTION acquisition complements Webster Industries’ equipment, castings lines 

Northeastern-Ohio based Webster Industries, Inc., an AFS Corporate Member that makes conveyor chains, sprockets, vibrating conveyors and specialty castings, acquired Action Equipment Company (ACTION), a manufacturer of vibratory conveying and process equipment. The combination will allow Webster to expand high-quality custom design offerings and vertically integrated production capacity, while fulfilling innovative product and service needs for the combined global customer base. 

Ermak Foundry & Machining acquires Patriot Foundry & Castings, RDS Dock Hardware 

AFS Corporate Member Ermak Foundry & Machining (Chaska, Minnesota) acquired Patriot Foundry & Castings and RDS Dock Hardware of Franklin, New Hampshire. With new capabilities brought online by Patriot and its extensive partner network, Ermak plans to grow its regional and national network and expand into new markets. Patriot will have additional capacity, including rapid prototyping and part development through Ermak’s proprietary product development process, plus access to in-house heat treat, machining, and permanent mold/gravity-fed die cast—providing customers with a broader, more cost- competitive one-stop-shop for nonferrous castings. 

May 2021

Metal Technologies acquires former customer in Mexico

AFS Corporate Member Metal Technologies (Auburn, Indiana) acquired AAASE’s Mexico machining operations in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which will do business as Metal Technologies Maquinados de SLP (MTMS)—the existing management team remains in place going forward.  

“MTMS was one of our first and largest customers in Mexico,” said MTI President and CEO Matthew Fetter. “We knew the management team very well for many years and the MTMS team was the critical part of the acquisition. In addition, MTMS’ ability to machine a wide size range of parts with complex operations and tight tolerances was complementary with our existing machining experience.” 

Madison-Kipp expands footprint with Indiana diecaster 

Madison-Kipp Corp. (MKC; Madison, Wisconsin) acquired the assets of a Richmond, Indiana, diecasting facility, which the company said expands its geographic footprint and allows it to better serve its customers. 

The transaction was part of a program to enhance MKC’s manufacturing capabilities; combined with the recent addition of seasoned leaders in engineering and manufacturing, MKC said it has the capacity to remain a highly reliable and technically sophisticated supplier of complex parts to new and current customers. The addition also opens the opportunity for supply chain optimization for certain customers. 

Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry buys Wabash Castings 

AFS Corporate Member Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry (WAF) (Manitowoc, Wisconsin) purchased Wabash Castings in Wabash, Indiana. 

“We are excited to grow our operations and expand on the success of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry,” WAF CEO Sachin Shivaram said in a news release. “Wabash Castings is renowned for their ability to produce high volume, complex castings. Their facility forms a perfect complement to our existing breadth of production lines. This acquisition will accelerate our growth in the electric vehicle and consumer goods markets, among other exciting opportunities.” 

WAF makes aluminum- and copper-based alloy castings. It has more than 400 employees. Wabash Castings has nearly 100 employees. 

Gränges invests $33 million to increase aluminum casting capacity in Tennessee 

Gränges, a Swedish aluminum supplier of rolled aluminum products for heat exchanger applications, specialty packaging and niche markets, said it will invest $33 million to expand its aluminum continuous casting operations in Huntingdon, Tennessee, to meet growing demand from North American customers. The expansion includes investment in buildings and a new casting line. 
When completed, the casting capacity in Huntingdon will increase by about 25,000 tons per year and will enable higher capacity utilization in the downstream rolling and slitting operations.

Stainless Foundry & Engineering helps develop antimicrobial stainless steel 

Performance Compounds Inside (PCI) made historic advancements in metallurgy with its 3PRE Technology, a novel and proprietary process of activating antimicrobial properties. 

PCI’s first use of its 3PRE Technology is with molybdenum, an essential element. When activated through 3PRE Technology, molybdenum takes on antimicrobial properties and can be added to stainless steel during the foundry process to render it capable of destroying and inhibiting bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms. 

“Our foundry is pleased to have been involved in the manufacture of the first antimicrobial stainless steel. We are impressed with the homogeneity and consistency of the end product and can anticipate multiple uses across any number of industries,” said Jim Stachowiak, president & CEO of Stainless Foundry & Engineering (Milwaukee, Wisconsin). 

June 2021

Rolls-Royce to design, manufacture propellers for U.S. Navy’s Constellation (FFG-62) frigates

Rolls-Royce reached an agreement with Fincantieri Marinette Marine to design and manufacture up to 40 fixed-pitch propellers for the U.S. Navy’s Constellation-class (FFG-62) guided missile frigate program. 

The first set of propellers (two per ship) is scheduled to be delivered to Fincantieri in 2023. The propellers will be manufactured in Rolls-Royce’s recently upgraded Pascagoula, Mississippi, foundry and will be some of the first work to utilize the newly installed state-of-the-art equipment and renovated facility funded through investments from the DoD, Rolls-Royce, Jackson County (MS) and the state of Mississippi. 

July 2021

CaneKast, Inc. acquires Superior Aluminum Castings 

AFS Corporate Member CaneKast (Chaska, Minnesota) and its privately-held companies Ermak Foundry & Machining, Patriot Foundry & Castings and RDS Dock Hardware acquired Superior Aluminum Castings in Independence, Missouri. 

“Four years ago, we started acquiring nonferrous foundries because we believe in local manufacturing,” said Reg Zeller, CEO and owner. “We are building a network of facilities that will provide the benefits of a small business yet have state-of-the-art technology typically only found in large conglomerates. Superior is a great fit to help us achieve this vision.”  

Pace Industries takes headquarters to Michigan 

Diecaster Pace Industries relocated its Arkansas headquarters to Novi, Michigan. The move was expected to create more than 60 new jobs in Novi initially while generating a total private investment of $1.9 million with the support of a $250,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund. 

August 2021

Decatur Foundry Inc. completes new molding building

In August, AFS Corporate Member Decatur Foundry Inc. (DFI) in Decatur, Illinois, went live with its new molding building, which replaced a molding facility lost to fire in May 2019. Most of the job shop’s molding is floor molding, and formerly, coremakers shared mixers with the molders, said CEO Rex Ragsdale. 

The $4.5 million upgrade accounts for over 60% of DFI’s molding capacity; the balance is provided by its other onsite molding buildings. The destroyed building provided 42% of all capacity. 

Tyler Pipe plans $35 million facility enhancements 

Tyler Pipe, a subsidiary of AFS Corporate Member McWane, will use approximately $35 million from an 80%, five-year tax abatement approved by a Texas county commissioners court to modernize its production capabilities and expand production capacity. 

Founded in the mid-1930s in Tyler, Texas, the company produces a wide variety of plumbing products including cast iron pipe and fittings. Its products are noted for their corrosion resistance, and longevity in water and sewage systems. Improvements are scheduled to be fully operational by the second quarter of 2022. Tyler Pipe currently has 368 full-time employees and plans to both retain and expand its workforce.

September 2021

Ford Meter Box upgrades molding equipment for complex brass castings 

Waterworks product specialists and foundry Ford Meter Box, an AFS Corporate Member in Wabash, Indiana, upgraded its existing matchplate molding machine to a DISA MATCH 14/19 with Automatic Core Setter, the first MATCH in the new 14/19 size to be delivered to a customer. 

Grede buys Neenah’s Advanced Cast Products division 

AFS Corporate Member Grede, Southfield, Michigan, acquired AFS Corporate Member Neenah Enterprises Inc.’s commercial vehicle business and the supporting capital assets, select portions of its industrial casting business and the Advanced Cast Products business in Meadville, Pennsylvania. 

October 2021

Doubled demand at Lodge Cast Iron triggers capital investments

Demand for products made by cookware specialist Lodge Cast Iron has doubled in the last two years, prompting the foundry to expand its molding capacity by 30% with new equipment that will push its yearly output at two South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, facilities from 70 million lbs. to 100 million. The foundry bought the first DISAMATIC D5 molding machine in the U.S and will install DISA’s full Monitizer digital solution, including the Artificial Intelligence-driven Monitizer | PRESCRIBE—the latter is scheduled to be running by next spring. 

Donsco, Inc. maximizes auto grinding production 

AFS Corporate Member Donsco Inc. rearranged the layout of one of its two plants for a more efficient working environment, which includes four Sinto Barinder high-speed, automated grinders. Donsco installed the machines to reduce grinding time and create an all-in-one grinding solution. 

JD Castings expands in Michigan 

JD Castings, based in Niagara, Wisconsin, is expanding six miles to the northwest in Iron Mountain, Michigan, which is just over the Wisconsin state line about 100 miles north of Green Bay. The foundry’s new facility is expected to create up to 24 new jobs and generate a total private investment of $770,000 with the support of a $200,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund. 

The company elected to expand in Michigan instead of at its existing facility in Wisconsin. 

November 2021

Stellantis casting facility gets environmental grant 

The Kokomo Casting plant owned by Stellantis has received a $10,000 pollution prevention grant from The Indiana Department of Environmental Management in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). The funding will go toward retrofitting its current cooling process, which will result in the reduction of 305,000 gallons of water per year.

Neenah acquires portions of U.S. Foundry

AFS Corporate Member Neenah Enterprises, the holding company of Neenah Foundry, has acquired an 18.7- acre manufacturing facility from Corporate Member U.S. Foundry & Manufacturing Corp. in Medley, Florida for $17.43 million, according to media reports. It represents the first Florida facility for the 150-year-old company.    

Click here to view the article in the December 2021 digital edition.