The U.S. Portrait By the Numbers
Modern Casting breaks down the U.S. metalcasting industry by material, process, coremaking and value-added capabilities.
A Modern Casting Staff Report
(Click here to see the story as it appears in the January issue of Modern Casting.)
Using data gathered from a nationwide survey of American metalcasters, Modern Casting can paint a picture of the U.S. industry in 2015. The data was compiled from a survey of 1,688 domestic metalcasting facilities, 85% of the country’s estimated total 1,965 plants in 2015. (For clarification, the industry forecast, pg. 30, uses a toal of 1,961 facilites, the estimate for 2016.)
Following is a breakdown of the survey results. The percent of responses reflects the number of surveyed facilities that responded to each question.
Last Place: Titanium
Aluminum remains the dominant material, with 814 facilities (48.2% of respondents) pouring some type of the alloy. The percentage of aluminum casting facilities is a slight increase from last year’s 47.4% (800 of 1,688 respondents). While most facilities report pouring more than one material, no other metal comes close to aluminum’s share. However, when it comes to volume, aluminum comes in third after ductile and gray iron.
Iron is the second most used material, with 29.4% of metalcasting facilities pouring the metal, a decrease of just 0.2% in the last year. Seventy-seven facilities (4.6%) reported pouring aluminum, iron and steel, and 213 facilities (12.6%) pour both aluminum and iron. Titanium remains the least commonly cast alloy, with only 21 facilities pouring it.
Leader: Green Sand/Horizontally Parted
Last Place: V-Process
Horizontally parted green sand molding is the perennial favorite process, with 637 of the 1,688 facilities (or 37.7%) using it, a slight decrease in facilities and percentage compared to 2012. Its vertically parted counterpart, which often is used for higher volumes, is found in only 12.3% of facilities. The nobake process comes in at a close second with 595 facilities, or 35.3%.
Many facilities report using multiple processes. 124 facilities use both the green sand and permanent mold processes (7.3%), and 417 facilities use the green sand and nobake processes (24.7%). Seven facilities reported using the V-process, a casting method with a vacuum holding unbonded sand in a mold during pouring.
Plants Per State
Last Place: Hawaii and North Dakota (Note: some states have no participating facilities.)
Ohio leads the industry in number of metalcasting facilities reported, with 160 (or 9.5% of the total responses from facilities). Pennsylvania upped its total by two to 136, enough to land the Keystone State as the nation’s no. 2 in total facilities. California lost three of its total, dropping to 130 for 2014. Wisconsin ranked fourth with 124 facilities, while Michigan and Illinois rounded out the states reporting more than 100 facilities, each with 115.
Two states—Hawaii and North Dakota—each have one metalcaster participating in our research, as does the District of Columbia.
The other states with fewer than 10 facilities reported are Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Alaska and Delaware did not have any participating metalcasting facilities.
Leader: Finish Machining
Last Place: Coating
Of the 1,688 facilities that participated in the U.S. census, 1,186 (70.3%) reported offering at least one value-added service. Machining was the most popular service, with 893 facilities (52.9% of all responses; 75.3% of facilities with value-added operations) offering finish machining capabilities and 883 offering rough machining (52.3%; 74.4%). Heat treatment, patternmaking and engineering and design all totaled more than 700 responses.
The vast majority of facilities offering value-added services reported multiple methods, with 1,144 of 1,688 (67.8%) offering at least two. Sixty metalcasters reported offering all 10 of the survey’s value-added services. Prototyping (314) and coating (246) were the least popular services, though both increased in availability by more than 10% compared to 2013.
Last Place: Cast-in Inserts
A little more than half of the participating facilities (889) reported using some method of coremaking. Shell and air-set/nobake coremaking were the top two responses, with 601 and 565 facilities reportedly using the methods, respectively. The least popular methods were hotbox/warmbox (99 facilities) and cast-in inserts (28).
Nearly 73% of responding facilities use more than one method for coremaking, with 241 locations using just a single method. The combination of shell and air-set/nobake was the most common tandem, with 426 facilities reportedly using both methods, while 316 responses included both shell and green sand methods.