Nonferrous Foundries, Except Aluminum and Copper

SIC 3369

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This industry includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing nonferrous metal castings, including alloys, except aluminum and copper castings and all die-castings.

Metal casters in this industry pour molten metals, such as nickel, zinc, magnesium, beryllium, and titanium, into molds made from sand, plaster, or other materials. When the metal cools, it forms a casting that can be used either as a part of a tool or machine to manufacture other products or as a component of a product being manufactured. Major casting products include parts for motor vehicles and other machine parts. Generally less costly than die-casting, these castings are also used to produce prototypes of machine parts for testing and evaluation prior to mass production.

At the end of the first decade of the 2000s, shipments for this industry were valued at $1.1 billion. From a total of $339.9 million in 1987 shipments, the industry increased steadily, reaching $617.1 million by 1995. Industry product share in the 1990s was distributed between nickel castings with 21.8 percent of the total share; zinc castings with 7.9 percent; magnesium and magnesium-base alloy cast in sand molds with 7.1 percent; and the remaining 63.2 percent share of the industry consisting of titanium and miscellaneous nonferrous castings. Shipments peaked in 1997 at $1.06 billion before falling to $1.02 billion in 1998 and $732.9 million in 1999. The value of shipments increased in 2000 and 2001 to $766.2 million and $855.4 million, respectively.

In the broader nonaluminum foundries category, industry shipments rose in value from nearly $3.4 billion in 2002 to more than $3.6 billion in 2004. Employment declined steadily in the first decade of the 2000s, dropping from 25,726 workers in 2002 to 20,166 in 2008. By 2009 that figure was down to 15,386, 78 percent of which were production workers earning an average of $18.36 an hour.

Nevertheless, in the early years of the twenty-first century the occupational outlook for this industry was favorable compared to other manufacturing industries. Employment levels were expected to drop less than 2 percent for grinders and polishers, inspectors, mold assembly and shakeout workers, metal pourers, assemblers, metal machine operators, machine forming operators, and secretaries. Those occupations expected to grow more than 20 percent included machinists, combination machine tool operators, tool and die makers, industrial machinery mechanics, maintenance repairers, sales workers, and industrial production managers.

In the late 1990s and early years of the first decade of the 2000s, manufacturing trends for the industry were similar to those for other metal-casting industries, producing castings with lower-cost materials and with greater efficiency. Research and development focused on several technologies, including developing new materials, particularly alloys, with similar or better physical characteristics and lower production costs than conventional metals; finding more energy-efficient processes, since the energy needed to melt metals amounts to as little as 25 percent of production costs; and implementing process improvements to make production less labor-intensive and to reduce waste materials.

According to Dun & Bradstreet, there were an estimated 317 establishments operating in the nonferrous foundries (not elsewhere classified) industry in 2010. Together these businesses generated $856 million in sales and employed 12,045 people. California, New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were home to the majority of nonferrous foundries, accounting for a combined 42 percent of all firms in the industry in 2010. California was the number one state in terms of revenues, with $239.4 million, or about 28 percent of total sales.

In 2010 nonferrous foundries, not elsewhere classified, accounted for 42 percent of the market share, with sales of $356.4 million and 4,859 employees. Precision castings, except die-castings, claimed 27 percent of the market, with $228.9 million in sales and 4,352 employees. The third-largest category in terms of revenues was magnesium and magnesium-based alloy castings, except die-castings, which held 8 percent of market share with $65.2 million in sales. Smaller categories, all of which excluded die-castings, included zinc and zinc-based alloy castings, which brought in $50.1 million; nonferrous aerospace castings, except aluminum, which garnered $47.1 million; titanium castings, which had sales of $32.2 million; and nonferrous machinery castings, which contributed $30.1 million to the industry total.

Throughout the 1990s and the first years of the 2000s, industry leaders shuttered plants and consolidated operations. Precision Castparts Corp., which had acquired several competitors, including Wyman-Gordon, also purchased Carlton Forge Works, a producer of nickel, titanium, and steel seamless rolled rings, in 2009 for $850 million. The acquisition completed the company's forging operations. The acquisition also included Arcturus Manufacturing Corp., which manufactured hammers. The consolidation of these companies was significant in setting the stage to jointly pursue customers that each could not have approached individually. Precision Castparts was not through expanding, however, and in 2011 made several other acquisitions, including Primis International, which provided parts for the aerospace industry, KLAD Manufacturing, and Rollmet. The company also had plans to buy Tru-Form, a division of GE Aviation. Mark Donegan, chairman and CEO of Precision Castparts, noted in a 2011 press release that "Tru-Form, which supplies all major engine OEMs, has exposure to every major commercial aircraft in production today" and that the purchase would "broaden[s] our forged product range."

Based in Portland, Oregon, Precision Castparts posted revenues of $6.2 billion in 2010 with 18,300 employees. Over half of the company's revenues were derived from the aerospace market. Another industry leader was Materion Inc. (formerly Brush Engineered Materials Inc.), based in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, with $1.3 billion in 2010 sales and 2,484 employees. ThyssenKrupp Materials NA of Southfield, Michigan, was also a major player in the industry. The firm was a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Materials International in Germany, which posted 2010 revenues of $9.2 billion. ThyssenKrupp's North American division employed 3,000 people in 2010.

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