This category includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing nonferrous forgings, with or without the use of dies. These establishments generally operate on a job or order basis, manufacturing forgings for sale to others or for interplant transfer. Establishments that produce metal forgings for incorporation into end products produced in the same establishment are classified on the basis of the end product. Establishments that further process forgings are classified according to the particular product or process.
The forging industry as a whole, which includes SIC 3462: Iron and Steel Forgings, is characterized by its forging processes rather than its end products. Because many companies forge many types of metals, including both ferrous and nonferrous, industry information for this industry classification and SIC 3462: Iron and Steel Forgings are often reported together. The Forging Industry Association, for example, does not distinguish between the two SICs, presenting information on sales for the entire industry. Therefore, this entry will focus on the unique characteristics of the nonferrous forgings industry, and general information on forging can be found in the essay on SIC 3462: Iron and Steel Forgings.
332112 (Nonferrous Forging)
In 2001, North Grafton, Massachusetts-based Wyman-Gordon Company, a subsidiary of Precision Castparts Corp., led the industry with $730 million in sales and 3,400 employees. Jet Engineering Inc. of Lansing, Michigan, was a distant second at $44 million in sales and 200 employees, while Weber Metals Inc. of Paramount, California, rounded out the top three with $41 million in sales and 200 employees.
Aluminum was the metal most often forged in this industry classification. Aluminum and its alloys can be forged into many different shapes and sizes. The metal is unique because it can be heated to the same temperature as the dies that will form it. The hardness of the dies is also lower than dies used for forging steel. The most common lubricant for forging aluminum is a graphite-water solution, with soap, to help the flow of the metal. Aluminum also can be forged into precision parts that need no further machining for use. Gravity or drop hammers are used for open die forgings, mechanical presses for closed die forgings, and hydraulic presses for complex pieces.
Other nonferrous forgings are made from magnesium and its alloys, whose coarse grains require that the metal be forged slowly in hydraulic presses; copper and its alloys, including brass and bronze; and titanium and its alloys, which are very sensitive to temperature changes but are extremely strong and resistant to corrosion.
Because titanium is expensive and must be handled quickly and expertly to avoid cracking when the parts are transferred between heat sources, a new remote control technology came into use in 2001. At industry leader Wyman-Gordon's plant, radio remote controllers made it possible for oven doors to open and close more efficiently. This new technology quickly became essential, because titanium forgings were to be used into the year 2010 in Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter.
The number of companies primarily engaged in manufacturing nonferrous forgings was only one-fifth the number of companies engaged in forging iron and steel. In the 1990s the nonferrous forging industry continued to be a small part of the total forging industry. In a 1993 census taken by Forging , 40 of 386 plants across the United States and Canada concentrated their efforts on forging aluminum, while 13 facilities concentrated on titanium and 12 on copper-base alloys. The forging of nonferrous metals is not limited to these companies, however; the total number of plants that engage in non-ferrous metal forging to some degree is significantly higher. When asked to provide all the types of metals a company forged, the number of plants that indicated at least a modicum of aluminum forging was 57 percent, while those engaged in titanium forging reached about 20 percent, and about 9 percent reported forging copper-base alloys.
Compared with other manufacturing establishments, the nonferrous forging industry is labor-intensive. The industry employs almost twice as many workers per company than other manufacturers, with 80 workers per establishment on average as opposed to 49.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Statistics of U.S. Businesses , 74 establishments operated in this category in 2001. Industry-wide employment totaled 9,149 workers receiving a payroll of more than $384 million. Employment for the forging and stamping industry as a whole was expected to rise about 1.5 percent each year until 2012, for a total of 132,000 workers.
Copper and brass were expected to remain in demand in the 2000s, and shipments were higher than expected in the early part of the decade. Aluminum also was expected to remain on top. Unlike the plight of other manufacturing industries, aluminum metalcasters did not
have to contend with increasing foreign competition. In 2003, while shipments of other metals used in the manufacturing industry were declining by half each year, aluminum shipments were forecast to increase or stabilize. Increased understanding of how aluminum could be formed and bonded was one of the industry's technology challenges, and the cost of materials, particularly the fluctuations, also was a challenge. Looking ahead to 2005 and beyond, the forging industry was concentrating on how further research could effect both reduction of manufacturing costs and increase in industry output.
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