This classification is comprised of establishments primarily involved in manufacturing die-castings from nonferrous metals and alloys other than aluminum. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing diecastings from aluminum and aluminum alloys are classified in SIC 3363: Aluminum Die-Castings.
331522 (Nonferrous (except Aluminum) Die-Castings)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 278 establishments operated in this category in the late 1990s. Industry-wide employment in 2000 totaled 16,084 workers receiving a payroll of more than $507 million. Within this workforce, 12,923 of these employees worked in production, putting in more than 26 million hours to earn wages of more than $354 million. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at over $2.1 billion in 2000.
According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, zinc die-castings represented the largest category of die-castings, other than aluminum, in the late 1990s. Magnesium was another important non-aluminum diecasting metal.
Die-casting techniques, which rely on injecting molten metal into steel molds under pressure, were developed around the turn of the twentieth century. Industrial development and needs spawned by both world wars brought increased use of die-castings.
In 1946, shipments of die-castings reached nearly 460 million pounds. Of this total, 376 million pounds represented die-castings fabricated with zinc. Zinc remained the top metal for die-casters until it was surpassed by aluminum in 1967. The 1970s and 1980s brought additional challenges to zinc die-casters when automakers began replacing zinc components with plastic products, and domestic manufacturers faced increased challenges from imported products. Improvements in the ability to cast zinc parts using thin-wall technology were expected to help zinc recapture some of its lost market share.
Innovations in the 1980s permitted fabricators to purify magnesium of contaminants associated with poor corrosion resistance. Refined magnesium possesses qualities making it competitive with aluminum, steel, plastics, and other traditional materials. These improvements resulted in dramatic increases in magnesium die-casting shipments. In 1983, for example, magnesium shipments totaled 4,700 tons. By 1990, the figure had increased to 15,500 tons. Although magnesium shipments dropped slightly in 1991 to 15,000 tons, industry analysts expected sales to rebound.
Another die-casting metal receiving increased interest during the early 1990s was titanium. Titanium possesses low weight, high strength, and good corrosion resistance. Although it had been used since the early 1950s in aerospace applications, widespread acceptance failed to develop because of the high costs associated with titanium production. Innovations developed during the 1980s, however, opened the door to expanded use.
As the die-casting industry prepared for the 1990s, the North American Die Casting Association (NADCA) predicted that technological improvements would increase demand for die-cast products. In addition to refinements in zinc production, the ability to work with magnesium held promise.
Total industry shipments declined from $2.18 billion in 1999 to $2.12 billion in 2000, while the cost of materials decreased from $870 million to $856 million. Over the same time period, employment also dropped, falling from 16,669 workers to 16,084 workers.
Magnesium shipments were expected to continue grow substantially into the twenty-first century. The largest user of magnesium die-castings is the automotive industry. Magnesium parts for cars include various housings, brackets, and steering column components. Other significant users of magnesium castings include manufacturers of chain saws, fishing rods, and power tools.
Leading the nonferrous die-castings industry was Labinal Inc. of Lombard, Illinois, with $290 in 1998 sales on the strength of 2,800 workers. Gibbs Die Casting Company, which generated 1997 sales of $272 million, built a new magnesium and aluminum casting plant in Harlingen, Texas called Rio Grande Die Casting that year. The 40,000-square-foot plant, which went online in June 1998, made magnesium steering wheel armatures among other products. Henderson, Kentucky, where the company makes its headquarters, was becoming the home of casting, as Gibbs built the third castings plant in the city, a 70,000-square-foot facility housing 10 casting machines.
Rounding out the top three industry leaders was Contech Division of Portage, Michigan, with 750 workers creating 1997 sales of $150 million. Other industry leaders included New York City-based Lexington Precision Corp.; Lindberg Corp. of Rosemont, Illinois; and Dynacast Inc. of Yorktown Heights, New York.
Kirgin, Kenneth H. "1997 Metalcasting Forecast and Trends: Solid Casting Markets Fuel 1997 Expansion." Modern Casting, January 1997. Available from http://www.moderncasting.com .
United States Census Bureau. "Nonferrous (Except Aluminum) Die-Casting Foundries" 1997 Economic Census-Manufacturing. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999. Available from http://www.census.gov/prod/ec97/97m3315e.pdf .
United States Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industries and Industry Groups: 2000." Annual Survey of Manufacturers. February 2002. Available from http://www.census.gov .
"U.S. Zinc Diecasting Industry Hit by Indirect Imports." Foundry Management and Technology, January 1991.
Wrigley, Al. "Gibbs Plant to Open New Casting Facility." American Metal Market, 23 January 1997.