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State of The Union

MCDP breaks down the U.S. metalcasting industry by material, process and state.

An MCDP Staff Report

(Click here to see the story as it appears in the Jan.Feb. issue of Metal Casting Design & Purchasing.)

Mining data from a survey of metalcasting facilities across the United States, Metal Casting Design & Purchasing offers a snapshot of the American metalcasting industry. The data was compiled from a survey of 1,692 domestic metalcasting facilities, 86.1% of the estimated total of 1,965 plants.

Following is a breakdown of the survey results, illustrating the numbers by material, process, location, value-added services and coremaking capabilities. The percent of responses reflects the number of surveyed facilities that responded to each question. Averages were found by eliminating the highest and lowest numbers in each category and dividing the sum by the number of responses.

Material

Leader: Aluminum

Last Place: Titanium

Aluminum is the dominant material, with 800 facilities (47.3% of respondents) pouring some type of aluminum alloy. The percentage of aluminum casting facilities is a slight increase from last year’s 46.6% (788 of 1,691 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 25.5% of metalcasting facilities pouring the metal, a decrease of more than 4% in the last year. Sixty-two facilities (3.7%) reported pouring aluminum, iron and steel, and 118 facilities (7%) pour both aluminum and iron. Titanium remains in last place, with only 21 facilities casting it.

Plants Per State

Leader: Ohio

Last Place: Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota (Note: some states have no participating facilities.)

Ohio leads the industry in number of metalcasting facilities reported, with 158 (or 9.4% of the total facilities in the U.S.). Pennsylvania upped its total by two to 134, good enough to recapture the No. 2 spot from California, which remained at 133 for 2014. Wisconsin ranked fourth with 125 facilities, while Michigan and Illinois rounded out the states reporting more than 100 facilities, with 121 and 116, respectively.

Three states—Alaska, 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 Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Delaware did not have any participating metalcasting facilities.

Casting Process

Leader: Green Sand/Horizontally Parted

Last Place: V-Process

Horizontally parted green sand molding is the perennial favorite process, with 655 of the 1,692 facilities (or 38.7%) using it, a slight increase 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 604 facilities, or 35.7%.

Many facilities report using multiple processes. One hundred twenty facilities use both the green sand and permanent mold processes (7.1%), and 433 facilities use the green sand and nobake processes (25.6%). Seven facilities reported using the V-process, a casting method with a vacuum holding unbonded sand in a mold during pouring.

Value-Added Services

Leader: Finish Machining

Last Place: Coating

Of the 1,692 facilities that participated in the U.S. census, 1,187 (70.2%) reported offering at least one value-added service. Machining was the most popular service, with 908 facilities (53.7% of all responses; 76.5% of facilities with value-added operations) offering finish machining capabilities and 892 offering rough machining (53.4%; 75.1%). 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 1,105 of 1,188 (93.3%) offering at least two. Fifty-five metalcasters reported offering all 10 of the survey’s value-added services. Prototyping (290) and coating (217) were the least popular services.

Coremaking Methods

Leader: Shell

Last Place: Cast-in Inserts

A little more than half of the participating facilities (893) reported using some method of coremaking. Shell and air-set/nobake coremaking were the top two responses, with 609 and 571 facilities reportedly using the methods, respectively. The least popular methods were ceramic cores (99 facilities) and cast-in inserts (40).

Nearly 80% of responding facilities use more than one method for coremaking, with 182 locations using just a single method. The combination of shell and air-set/nobake was the most common tandem, with 416 facilities reportedly using both methods, while 340 responses included both shell and green sand methods.

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