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1998 forecast remains bullish.

Ongoing interviews with major users of metal castings have reinforced earlier forecasts for a continued strong overall demand for cast components throughout 1998. At the same time, some market sectors showed some slowing during the last quarter of 1997 from peaks experienced during the previous three years. A continued good year is expected in 1999 with somewhat of a slowdown expected as we approach the new century.

The following economic macro market forecasts have been altered slightly downward from the original forecast, based on some significant changes in world markets, and a less than anticipated increase in housing starts.
 1997 1998 1999

GDP +3.5% +3.5% +2.5%
Housing Starts -2.0% +3.0% +3.0%
Passenger Cars(*) 5890 6010 5890
Light Trucks(*) 5720 5830 5700
Med/Hvy Trucks(*) 290 310 330
Railroad Freight
Cars 45 50 45

* 000s of units

Gray Iron

Shipments of gray iron castings in the U.S. are forecast to increase 1.8% in 1998 to 6.18 million tons based on increases in all market sectors except mining, oilfield equipment and ingot molds.

Motor Vehicles - Based on the production of 11.84 million light vehicles and 310,000 medium-to-heavy trucks in 1998, 2.238 million tons of gray iron castings are expected to be consumed in these markets.

Municipal Castings - A 2% increase in shipments of municipal and hydrant castings is expected in 1998 based on the reduced housing start forecast. Imports of 90,000 tons are expected to keep gray iron shipments to 480,000 tons in 1998.

Machine Tool Castings - Another good year for machine tool and metalworking machinery casting shipments is expected and shipments are forecast to reach 137,000 tons in 1998. This is slightly better than the peak year of 1997.

Pumps and Compressors - Gray iron shipments in this total market sector are forecast to reach 253,000 tons - a 3% increase over 1997.

Special Industry Machinery - Based on projections from the individual markets, gray iron shipments in the special machinery category are expected to increase 3% in 1998.

Diesel Engine Castings - A domestic shortage of capacity continues to exist for diesel engine blocks and heads in the U.S. Shipments of all gray iron diesel engine castings from U.S. foundries are forecast to increase by 3% in 1998.

Refrigeration & Air Conditioning - Shipments of small compressor and other gray iron castings are expected to increase 2% in 1998 to 147,000 tons.

Ductile Iron

Shipments of ductile iron castings are forecast to increase to 4.2 million tons in 1998 - a 4% increase over 1997.

Pipe - Pipe production increased to an estimated 1.8 million tons in 1997 based on increased housing starts and exports. An increase to 1.87 million tons is forecast for 1998.

Motor Vehicles - Based on the forecasted light vehicle production of 11.8 million units in 1998, ductile iron casting shipments of 1.077 million tons are expected in this market, which represents a 3.3% increase over 1997. Ductile iron consumption in medium-to-heavy trucks is expected to peak at 209,000 tons in 1998.

Farm Machinery and Equipment - The strength of this market sector continues into 1998. It is forecast that ductile iron castings for farm machinery parts will increase 2% over 1997 and reach 123,000 tons.

Construction Machinery - Based on a 3% growth rate in construction machinery demand and conversion of some rear axle castings from steel, it is forecast that ductile iron shipments in 1998 will increase to 169,000 tons.


An expected strong demand for steel castings in the railroad and construction industries is forecast to spur demand to 1.4 million tons of steel casting shipments in 1998.

Railroad - Railroads have announced plans to purchase new grain cars as well as platforms. Because of this, a 50,000-car year is forecast for 1998. Steel casting consumption in railroad applications is forecast to jump 11% in 1998 to 637,000 tons.

Mining - Shipments of steel castings for mining machinery applications are forecast to reach 107,000 tons in 1998 with manganese steel at 25,000 tons.

Construction - Steel casting consumption in construction machinery rose 2.2% in 1997 and is forecast to increase 3% in 1998 to 185,000 tons.

Corrosion-Resistant Steels - Spurred by growth in the use of valves and pumps in chemical and petrochemical applications, corrosion-resistant steel casting shipments are forecast to reach their highest level ever at 79,000 tons. Production of valve and fitting castings alone is expected to reach 28,000 tons.


Aluminum castings made in the U.S. continue to climb to record levels as automotive applications grow. The forecast for 1998 is 1.75 million tons, following the record year in 1997 of 1.66 million tons.

Die Castings - Aluminum diecasting production is expected to reach 1.0 million tons in 1998 - a 3% increase over 1997.

Sand & Permanent Mold - Shipments of aluminum castings made in permanent molds and sand are expected to grow to 700,000 tons in 1998, as use in motor vehicles continues to escalate.

Motor Vehicle - Shipments of all aluminum castings are forecast to increase to 940,000 tons. Aluminum heads are now used in 72% of cars and trucks, with aluminum blocks at an 18% level in the U.S.

Copper-Alloy Castings

Casting consumption in plumbing fittings and sanitary fixtures declined in 1997, largely as a result of lower housing starts. A return to 60,000 tons is expected in 1998. Brass and bronze industrial valve castings increased in 1997 to 106,000 tons and are forecast to increase 3% to 110,000 tons in 1998.
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Title Annotation:Metal Casting Trends
Author:Kirgin, Kenneth H.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Mar 1, 1998
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