This industry includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing nonferrous metal castings, including alloys, except aluminum and copper castings and all die-castings.
331528 (Other Nonferrous Foundries)
Metal casters in this industry pour molten metals such as nickel, zinc, magnesium, beryllium, and titanium into molds made from sand, plaster, or other materials. When the metal cools, it forms a casting that can be used either as a part of a tool or machine to manufacture other
products or as a component of a product being manufactured. Major casting products include parts for motor vehicles and other machine parts. Generally less costly than die-casting, these castings are also used to produce prototypes of machine parts for testing and evaluation prior to mass production.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 140 establishments operate in this category. Industry-wide employment in 2000 totaled 4,418 workers receiving a payroll of almost $170 million. Of these employees, 3,457 worked in production, putting in more than 7.5 million hours to earn wages of more than $102 million. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at more than $1.6 billion in 2001.
Industry leader Budd Co. of Troy, Michigan, with 1998 sales of $3.7 billion, won three major contracts that year: manufacturing BMW's exterior sheet steel body panels and subassemblies for its sports utility vehicles (SUVs); building steel frames for General Motors's SUVs; and assembling Ford's exterior sheet panels and welded body subassemblies for compact Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers. In 2002, the firm changed its name to ThyssenKrupp Budd Co., shuttered two factories, and divested its Phillips & Temro Industries unit. Along with eliminating about 1,000 employees, which reduced total head count to 11,500, the downsizing also reduced sales to $2.5 billion. One a positive note, ThyssenKrupp Budd secured a contract that year to manufacture parts for the Toyota Tacoma truck in North America.
The Wyman-Gordon Group of Grafton, Massachusetts, which held second place in the industry in 1999 with $849 million in sales, experienced downed forging presses in both 1998 and 1999. In March 1998, the malfunction of Wyman-Gordon's 29,000-ton press demonstrated the commercial aircraft industry's overwhelming reliance on this company's supply of titanium. On December 1, 1999, the aircraft industry again suffered delays in delivery of titanium when Wyman-Gordon's 50,000-ton forging press—the largest press in the industry, along with Alcoa's twin press—shutdown for three weeks. Even though it was replaced during its downtime by a 35,000-ton press that handled 95 percent of the workload, considerable delays were inevitable. Finally, when the larger press returned to the production line, it operated at less than full capacity. Precision Castparts Corp. acquired Wyman-Gordon in 1999. Operating as a subsidiary of Precision Castparts, Wyman-Gordon secured a contract in 2002 to produce structural titanium forgings for the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter.
Other industry leaders included American Cast Iron Pipe Co. of Birmingham, Alabama (with 2003 sales of $650 million and 3,000 employees); Cleveland, Ohio-based Brush Wellman Inc. (with 2003 sales of $200 million and 1,900 employees); Copper and Brass Sales Inc. of Detroit, Michigan; and Dallas, Texas-based TIC United Corp.
The category is relatively new to the SIC system, as a reclassification took place in 1987 to narrow the scope of this industry. From a total of $339.9 million in 1987 shipments, the industry increased steadily to $617.1 million before inflation by 1995. Industry product share in the 1990s was distributed between nickel castings with 21.8 percent of the total share; zinc castings accounted for 7.9 percent; magnesium and magnesium-base alloy cast in sand molds claimed 7.1 percent; and the remaining 63.2 percent share of the industry was made up of titanium and miscellaneous nonferrous castings. Shipments peaked in 1997 at $1.06 billion, before falling to $1.02 billion in 1998 and to $732.9 million in 1999. The value of shipments increased in both 2000 and 2001, growing to $766.2 million and $855.4 million, respectively.
In 2000, the industry employed 4,418 laborers, 3,457 of whom were production workers. Production workers earned an average wage of $13.68 per hour, higher than the average for all U.S. manufacturing.
Into the early years of the twenty-first century, the occupational outlook for this industry was favorable compared to other manufacturing industries. Employment levels were expected to drop by less than 2 percent for grinders and polishers, inspectors, mold assembly and shakeout workers, metal pourers, assemblers, metal machine operators, machine forming operators, and secretaries. Those occupations expected to grow more than 20 percent include machinists, combination machine tool operators, tool and die makers, industrial machinery mechanics, maintenance repairers, sales workers, and industrial production managers.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, manufacturing trends for the industry were similar to those for other metal casting industries—that is, producing castings with lower-cost materials and with greater efficiency. Research and development has focused on several technologies: developing new materials, particularly alloys, with similar or better physical characteristics and lower costs to produce than conventional metals; finding more energy-efficient processes, since the energy needed to melt metals amounts to as little as 25 percent of production costs; and implementing process improvements to make production less labor intensive and to reduce waste materials.
Infotrac Company Profiles. 28 January 2000. Available from http://web4.infotrac.galegroup.com .
Kosdrosky, Terry. "Budd Co. Changes Name, Reorganizes to Win Business." Crain's Detroit Business, 25 November 2002.
U.S. Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industry Groups and Industries: 2000." February 2002. Available from http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/m00as-1.pdf .
——. "Value of Shipments for Product Classes: 2001 and Earlier Years." December 2002. Available from http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/m01as-2.pdf .