Primary Metal Products, NEC

SIC 3399

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing primary metal products, not elsewhere classified, such as nonferrous nails, brads, and spikes, and metal powder, flakes, and paste. Steel nails, brads, spikes, and staples are classified under SIC 3315: Steel Wiredrawing and Steel Nails and Spikes.

The powder metal industry, which includes powder forging, hot isostatic pressing, rapid prototyping, spray forming, high-temperature sintering, and injection molding, experienced excellent years in the late 1990s, reaching record levels in 2000, according to the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF). As with other industries, weak economic conditions in the United States undermined the performance of the powder metals sector in the early years of the first decade of the 2000s, but sales were strong by the mid-2000s before dropping again during the recession late in the decade.

The primary metal products industry includes three major groups: metal powders, paste, and flakes; primary metal products such as nonferrous nails, brads, tacks, and staples; and other primary metal products, not specified by kind. The value of primary aluminum products, not specified by kind, totaled $4.9 million in 2005. Refined primary zinc shipments totaled nearly $396 million that year, while primary precious metals and precious metals alloys shipments totaled nearly $846 million. Shipments of primary nonferrous metals, not elsewhere classified, totaled $2.3 billion. At 546,637 short tons, metal powder production for all of North America in 2005 was down slightly from the previous year according to the MPIF.

The vast majority of metal powders (more than 66 percent according to the MPIF) are used in the automotive industry. This application grew throughout the early 2000s as light vehicle manufacturers made increased use of metal powders. Other applications included office equipment, sporting goods, medical devices, industrial machinery, and household appliances.

According to industry statistics, there were an estimated 753 establishments manufacturing over $1 billion in primary metal products, not elsewhere classified, such as nonferrous nails, brads, and spikes, and metal powder, flakes, and paste in 2008, with industry-wide employment of 16,789. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average wage for production workers in the primary metal manufacturing industry in 2009 was $23.12 an hour, which was higher than the average for the manufacturing industry as a whole.

In 2008 iron powder production fell 19 percent to 327,272 short tons, copper and copper-based powder shipments fell 13 percent to 17,400 short tons, and stainless steel powder shipments fell an estimated 20 percent to about 7,750 short tons. North American metal powder shipments fell from 509,137 short tons in 2007 to 415,427 short tons in 2008. Shipments continued to decline during the first half of 2009, a clear indication of the struggling automotive industry.

By 2010, things were starting to look up. Although total metal powder production was still not up to pre-recession levels, at 451, 021 short tons it was higher than that realized in 2009 when production reached only 334,521 short tons, according to the MPIF. Iron and steel remained the largest category in terms of metal powder production, followed by aluminum, copper and copper base, and stainless steel. Production levels in the smaller categories, including molybdenum, tungsten, tungsten carbide, nickel, and tin, remained fairly stable between 2009 and 2010. Together these metals made up only 4 percent of total U.S. production.

According to Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), by 2010 there were 660 U.S. establishments engaged in manufacturing primary metal products, not elsewhere classified. Together these firms employed 14,861 people and generated sales of $1.15 billion. Pennsylvania was the top state in terms of revenues in the industry with $352.2 million, followed by Massachusetts with $191.6 million and New Jersey with $161.7 million. Pennsylvania was also home to largest number of establishments, followed by California, Texas, Michigan, and Ohio.

Other figures from D&B showed that metal powder was the largest category in 2010, with 190 establishments accounting for about 61 percent of the market share. Metal powders, pastes, and flakes held 9 percent of the market, while metal fasteners had 6 percent and several other smaller categories, including brads, nails, spikes, staples, tacks, and other powders, pastes, and flakes, made up the remainder of the market.

Leading the industry in the early 2010s was Praxair Inc. of Danbury, Connecticut, with $10.71 billion in 2010 sales and 26,261 employees. Other industry leaders included Covidien Inc. in Mansfield, Massachusetts; with $51 million in 2010 sales, the firm accounted for about 50 percent of its parent company's sales (Covidien PLC in Ireland). Ferro Corp. of Cleveland, Ohio generated 2010 sales of almost $2.1 billion with more than 5,000 employees and customers in approximately 100 countries.

Early in the twenty-first century, the employment levels of many occupations in the primary metal products industry, including nonferrous foundries and heat treatment facilities, were decreasing. The occupations expected to face reductions of more than 25 percent included miscellaneous hand workers, electricians, metal pourers, metal/plastic machine workers, furnace operators, and welders. The occupations expected to face reductions between 10 and 25 percent included blue-collar worker supervisors, general laborers, heat-treating machine operators, furnace operators, truck and tractor operators, crushing and mixing machine operators, inspectors, crane operators, material movers, machine tool workers, secretaries, machine feeders, science and mathematics technicians, material moving equipment operators, and metal molding machine operators. Sales positions were expected to increase, however.

Into the early 2010s, industry experts expressed optimism for the powder metals industry. Challenges included changing market conditions due to globalization, under-capacity and aging equipment, and educating consumers about the environmental responsibility of the industry. According to Michael Lutheran, president of the MPIF, however, in 2011, "PM's [powder metallurgy] design-engineering advantages, contributions to sustainability, and proven economies are stronger than ever. The industry has much to look forward to."

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