Standing on the CastExpo exhibition floor last month, I made a 360-degree turn to see all the sights before my eyes. The shiny equipment. The bright lights. The networking. The potential for the future.
The best of metalcasting was on display at the once-every-three-year showcase, and I was in awe. To understand where this industry was in 2009-10, to see where it is today and to think where it is going is amazing. Many had expected North American metalcasting to go the way of the dinosaurs. Instead, it is now a beacon of success the rest of the world points to.
Yes, we have significant challenges:• Critical markets like agriculture, energy and mining are significantly down.• Finding skilled labor (or any labor at all) is difficult.• You, as casting buyers, continue to demand more and want to pay less.• Today’s regulatory environment is stifling to manufacturing.
But look at just a few of the headlines we have run in the magazine in the last year:• Waupaca Unveils New Growth Strategy• Linamar, GF Automotive Choose North Carolina for New Operations• Fritz Winter to Build Casting Facility in Kentucky• Sahkti Breaks Ground on Aluminum Casting Facility in Detroit• Kamtek to Invest in New Diecasting Facility in Alabama• Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Purchases Precision Castparts
Hopefully, these headlines and the other regularly occurring positive news can finally put to rest the misnomer that new casting facilities and expansion aren’t happening in the U.S. Couple this investment with the tremendous expansion and adoption of additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping that is occurring, and you have an industry poised to handle the future. When the down markets return to some normalcy, watch out for North American metalcasting.
While my messages in this editorial space tend to cheerlead the positive, I am calling it like I see it. In your production-driven world, you must focus on finding the proper supplier for a family of parts or improving the performance of a single aluminum component. My responsibility is to scream from the mountaintops a 10,000-ft-view that examines the trends in the industry.
I gained some additional perspective on the state of metalcasting while on the CastExpo show floor. Hopefully, you have as well.
(Click Here to see this story as it appears in the May/June issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing.)
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