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Demand expansion forecast for iron, diecast aluminum: due to reduced U.S. capacity in certain production segments, casting buyers may have to look to imports to meet specific needs.

Based on interviews of casting end users in the U.S., Stratecasts, Inc. has forecast 2006 demand and supply of metal castings by weight classes, casting processes and market sectors. The results and analyses have been summarized in the following tables classified under the major cast metals.

As shown, the lower weight range classes continue to dominate the demand in most market sectors, however, some of the other weight classes and casting processes are expected to show growth for specific metals in the years ahead.

The lack of domestic supply in some casting processes and weight classifications, caused by facility closings and loss of capacity, has resulted in domestic shortages causing consumers to be dependent on imports to meet casting requirements. Expansion is forecast in the lower iron weight classes to meet demand.

Gray Iron

The forecast 2006 demand for gray iron castings of various production quantities and weight classes in the major market sectors of casting consumption is shown in Table 1. Each weight class is reported in medium-to-high (M/H Prod.) and low production (Low Prod.) quantity categories. The M/H production quantities are those that have production runs of more than 50 molds and are made on automatic and semi-automatic flaskless molding machines and high production cope and drag machines. The low production quantity castings are those made on jolt-squeeze machines, rotolifts, cope and drag molding "machines, and on the floor in green sand and nobake molds.

It is forecast that 1.63 million tons of medium to high production gray iron casting demand is to be in the 0-50 lb. range. This is 42.5% of the total M/H quantity. The demand/supply ratio of this class of castings is 0.96, indicating only a 4% supply surplus.

The 50-150 lb. class of M/H production is forecast to be slightly lower at 1.1 million tons because of the loss of engine block and cylinder head production and a shortage of domestic supply capacity in gasoline and diesel engine castings. The shortage of domestic supply is 111,000 tons.

The demand/supply (D/S) ratio is forecast at 0.95 in 2006, up from 0.87 in 2005 because of a loss of 500,000 tons in supply and a 60,000-ton gain in imports

Motor Vehicle--The demand for M/H quantity castings in the 0-5 weight range is predicted at 807,000 tons in 2006, 2% more than 2004 based on the forecasted production of 12 million light vehicles. It is expected that 483,000 tons of gray iron castings are to be produced in the 50-150 lb. range. This is a big reduction from former years because of the conversion of engine castings to aluminum. A continued loss in this weight range is forecast.

Diesel Engine--The high production of medium to heavy trucks has caused an increase in the demand for M/H castings in the 50-150 lb. and 150-300 lb. ranges to 318,000 tons. Because of the loss of production capacity in the U.S., imports are more than 50% of demand.

Household Appliances--The use of gray iron in this market sector continues to decline based on the conversion to light metals and plastic. It is forecast that the demand in 2006 for gray iron castings in the less-than-50-lb, range will decrease to a new low of 41,000 tons.

Refrigeration/AC---Though much of the demand for gray iron in the 0-50 lb. range has been decreased because of the usage of lost foam and shell molding for compressor castings, it is expected that 101,000 tons will be consumed in 2006.

Pumps & Compressors--Based on the expected rebound and expansion in this market sector in 2006, an increase in the demand of 300-700-lb. and greater-than-700-lb, castings to 57,000 and 46,000 tons, respectively, is forecast.

Ductile Iron

The 0 to 50-lb. range of high production castings dominates the demand for ductile iron at 1.59 million tons, or 67% of the total M/H production total. The demand/supply ratio of this weight class is 0.93. High D/S ratios in other ductile iron classifications indicate the impact of imports and the shortage of domestic supply. The total D/S ratio has increased from 0.87 to 0.93 based on a loss of 170,000 tons of supply capacity

Motor Vehicle--The less-than-50-lb. casting range again dominates the M/H production of ductile iron with 1,026,000 tons of consumption in passenger cars and light trucks and 220,000 tons in medium to heavy trucks. A 100,000-ton loss in demand to aluminum is forecast for 2006 along with an increase of 20,000 tons in imports

Valves & Fittings--The major tonnage lies in the 50-150 lb. weight range, produced by the ductile iron pipe manufacturers for usage with centrifugal-cast pressure pipe in water distribution systems. Threaded pipe fittings continue to be specified in malleable iron, however some have been converted to ductile iron and are included in the less-than-50-1b, weight range. It is forecast that the conversion will continue in the future.

Farm Machinery & Equipment--A gain in the shipments of farm machinery should lead to increases of ductile iron demand in this market sector. The less-than-50-1b, market consumes 47,000 tons of the total of 137,000 tons.

Special Industry Machinery--This market consumes a sizeable part of the 300-700-lb. and more-than-5,000-lb. casting classes made primarily by the floor molding processes. Housings for plastic machinery and castings for printing and paper making machinery consume a majority of the tonnage of ductile iron.

Construction Machinery & Equipment--Conversion of steel to ductile iron in housings and carriers has increased the demand for ductile iron in the more-than-50-lb, weight ranges. It is forecast that demand will reach 54,000 tons for castings weighing more than 700 lbs.

Carbon & Low-Alloy Steel

The great majority of the non-railroad carbon and low alloy steel castings are consumed in the 1-100 lb. and 101-500 lb. weight ranges. Though there is ample supply in these weight ranges, a shortage could occur in the 500-1,000 lb. range, which is forecast to have a D/S ratio of 0.91 in 2006. It is forecast that 116,000 tons will be consumed in the more-than-1,000-lb. casting weight categories. Heavy castings of more than 10,000 lbs. in weight are forecast to reach 32,000 tons in 2006 and also could be in short supply in the future because of plant closings and loss of capacity.

Railroad--Railroad castings including wheels, bolsters, side frames, couplers and yokes are primarily in the 100-1,000-lb. casting range, and are forecast to reach 629,000 tons in 2006, if the expected freight car deliveries of 59,000 cars are reached.

Construction & Mining--The majority of the carbon and low alloy steel castings in these market sectors are in the 100-1,000-lb. weight class. After many years of decline, growth is forecast in the mining market sector in the next few years.

Valves & Pumps--A low growth of only 1.5% per year is forecast in this market sector because of import pressures and conversion to ductile iron. As shown in Table 5, the low to medium weight casting ranges consume more than 80% of these steels, however there is a sizeable market for castings more than 1,000 lbs.

Corrosion-Resistant Steel

More than 75% of the castings weigh less than 500 lbs. Most of the stainless and high alloy castings are produced in carbon steel casting facilities with an adequate supply capacity (Table 7).

Aluminum

As is shown in Table 8, 2.6 million tons of aluminum casting demand is forecast for 2006. Motor vehicle consumption dominates the market at 62% of the total. The high-pressure diecast demand is forecast at 1.5 million tons, while semi-permanent mold (SPM) aluminum is forecast at 490,000 tons.

Demand/supply conditions indicate potential supply problems for die castings and a shortage of domestic supply for aluminum permanent mold and sand castings. The latter is dependent on foreign producers at this time. The supply capacity for aluminum die castings is expected to drop 70,000 tons in 2006 and bring the D/S ratio to 0.91 as demand increases by 90,000 tons.

Motor Vehicles--Diecast aluminum dominates the motor vehicle market at 886,000 tons. Low pressure die cast and lost foam aluminum, primarily used for cylinder heads, are forecast at 220,000 tons and 140,000 tons respectively. Semi permanent molded aluminum demand is forecast at 270,000 tons, while sand molded aluminum demand, used primarily for engine blocks and intake manifolds, is expected to reach 117,000 tons.

The future market for aluminum heads and engine blocks is expected to cause a domestic shortage of casting capacity, though captive supply capacity at OEM facilities is planned to meet casting requirements.

Copper-Base Alloys

Outside of special applications, such as propellers and large marine and pump parts, 90% of the castings weigh less than 50 lbs. and are made on matchplate molding machines. The demand/sup ply ratio in 2006 is forecast at 0.90 for 350,000 tons of demand.

For More Information

2006 AFS Metalcasting Forecast & Trends Report, American Foundry Society, Schaumburg, IL.

A 50-year metalcasting veteran, Ken Kirgin founded Stratecasts Inc. in the early 1980s to provide domestic and international forecasting and trends analysis and strategic planning.
Table 1. 2006 Engineered Gray Iron Casting Demand in the
 U.S. by Weight Class (000 tons) (*)

 Weight Classes (lbs)

Industry 0-50 50-150

 M/H Low M/H Low
 Prod. Prod. Prod. Prod.

Sanitary/Radiator 89 8 64 22
Valves & Fittings 79 16 87 13
Int. Comb. Engines 103 22 106 17
Farm Mach. & Equip. 82 12 109 10
Construction Mach. 59 13 50 14
Mining Equipment 8 4 6 2
Oil Field Equip. 18 13 9 3
Mat'l Handling/Other 14 3 5 2
Machine Tool Mach. 14 4 21 5
Spec. Industry Mach. 47 11 35 13
Pumps/Compressors 28 12 46 16
Power Transmission E. 26 9 20 7
Refrigeration/AC 101 12 8 4
Electric Motor & Eq 15 5 9 4
Household Appliance 41 - - -
Pass. Car & Lt. Truck 747 6 345 21
Med. To Hvy. Truck 60 5 138 2
Railroad 8 3 1 1
Other 93 3 32 3
Total 1,632 161 1,091 159

 Weight Classes (lbs)

Industry 150-300 300-700

 M/H Low M/H Low
 Prod. Prod. Prod. Prod.

Sanitary/Radiator 29 8 - -
Valves & Fittings 54 12 63 11
Int. Comb. Engines 212 27 144 16
Farm Mach. & Equip. 28 8 46 8
Construction Mach. 30 7 46 13
Mining Equipment 5 2 2 1
Oil Field Equip. 4 3 3 1
Mat'l Handling/Other 4 1 3 1
Machine Tool Mach. 15 5 19 9
Spec. Industry Mach. 26 13 25 15
Pumps/Compressors 29 19 38 19
Power Transmission E. 17 6 16 6
Refrigeration/AC 3 3 2 2
Electric Motor & Eq 10 3 6 4
Household Appliance - - - -
Pass. Car & Lt. Truck 58 5 - -
Med. To Hvy. Truck 42 2 - -
Railroad 1 - - -
Other 8 2 15 3
Total 575 126 428 109

 Weight Classes (lbs)

Industry >700

 M/H Low
 Prod. Prod.

Sanitary/Radiator -- --
Valves & Fittings -- 11
Int. Comb. Engines 42 28
Farm Mach. & Equip. 12 8
Construction Mach. 33 9
Mining Equipment -- 6
Oil Field Equip. 6 3
Mat'l Handling/Other 6 1
Machine Tool Mach. -- 24
Spec. Industry Mach. -- 37
Pumps/Compressors -- 46
Power Transmission E. -- 9
Refrigeration/AC -- --
Electric Motor & Eq -- 5
Household Appliance -- --
Pass. Car & Lt. Truck -- --
Med. To Hvy. Truck -- --
Railroad -- --
Other 12 4
Total 111 191

* Excludes ingot molds, municipal castings and soil pipe

Table 2. Forecast of Gray Iron Domestic Demand & Supply in 2006

Weight Equipment Demand * Supply
 Category (000 tons) (000 tons)

 M/H Prod.
0-50 lbs. Matchplate/ 1,632 1,700
 Cope & Drag

 Low Prod. 161 180
 Sqeezer

 MH/Prod. Cope
50-150 lbs. & Drag & 1091 980
 Lg. Match.

 Low Prod.
 Pin Lift
 Cope & Drag 159 177

 M/H Prod.Cope

150-300 Cope & Drag 575 590

 Low Prod. 126 140
 Cope & Drag

300-700 lbs. M/H Prod. 428 490
 Cope & Drag

 Low Prod. 109 122

 M/H Prod.

700-5000 lbs. Cope & Drag, 111 125
 Slinger

 Low Prod. 108 140

> 5000 lbs. Low Prod. 83 108

Special Castings Ingot Mold 34 55

 Soil Pipe 234 300

 Municipal & 869 900
 Hydrants

Total 5,720 6,007

Weight Equipment D/S Excess
 Category (Shortage)

 M/H Prod.
0-50 lbs. Matchplate/ 0.96 68
 Cope & Drag

 Low Prod. 0.89 19
 Sqeezer

 MH/Prod. Cope
50-150 lbs. & Drag & 1.11 (111)
 Lg. Match.

 Low Prod.
 Pin Lift
 Cope & Drag 0.90 18

 M/H Prod.Cope

150-300 Cope & Drag 0.89 15

 Low Prod. 0.82 14
 Cope & Drag

300-700 lbs. M/H Prod. 0.89 62
 Cope & Drag

 Low Prod. 0.88 13

 M/H Prod.

700-5000 lbs. Cope & Drag, 0.88 14
 Slinger

 Low Prod. 0.77 32

> 5000 lbs. Low Prod. 0.76 25

Special Castings Ingot Mold 0.62 21

 Soil Pipe 0.78 66

 Municipal & 0.97 31
 Hydrants

Total 0.95 ** 287

* Demand-Shipments + Imports - Exports

** High Demand/Supply ratios indicate high import/demand ratios

Table 3. 2006 Ductile Iron Casting Demand
in the U.S. by Weight Class (000 tons) *

 Weight Classes (lbs)

 0-50 50-150

 M/H Low M/H Low
Industry Prod. Prod. Prod. Prod.

Valves & Fittings 52 11 72 7
Int. Comb. Engines 30 9 52 6
Farm Machine & Equip. 47 10 24 9
Construction Mach. & Equip. 47 8 34 10
Oil Field Equip. 22 10 13 3
Material Handling 5 2 2 1
Machine Tool 6 5 7 4
Spec. Industry Mach. 28 8 17 6
Pump/Compressor 16 11 14 8
Power Trans. Equip. 8 1 8 1
Refrigeration & AC 33 3 4 2
Electric Motors & Gen. 12 1 3 1
Pass. Car & Light Truck 1,026 6 76 2
Med./Hvy. Truck 220 7 60 1
Railroad 10 1 1 --
Other 26 4 9 2
Total 1,588 97 396 63

 Weight Classes (lbs)

 150-300 300-700

 M/H Low M/H Low
Industry Prod. Prod. Prod. Prod.

Valves & Fittings 55 5 21 12
Int. Comb. Engines 21 2 -- 2
Farm Machine & Equip. 13 3 13 3
Construction Mach. & Equip. 26 10 25 13
Oil Field Equip. 10 2 9 2
Material Handling 1 1 1 --
Machine Tool 7 4 6 4
Spec. Industry Mach. 15 6 14 6
Pump/Compressor 13 5 11 6
Power Trans. Equip. 5 1 3 1
Refrigeration & AC -- -- -- --
Electric Motors & Gen. 1 1 1 1
Pass. Car & Light Truck -- -- -- --
Med./Hvy. Truck 26 1 10 1
Railroad -- -- -- --
Other 6 1 5 1
Total 199 42 119 52

 Weight Classes (lbs)

 >700

 M/H Low
Industry Prod. Prod.

Valves & Fittings 17 17
Int. Comb. Engines -- 1
Farm Machine & Equip. 13 2
Construction Mach. & Equip. 28 26
Oil Field Equip. 6 5
Material Handling -- --
Machine Tool -- 4
Spec. Industry Mach. 1 11
Pump/Compressor 2 12
Power Trans. Equip. -- 1
Refrigeration & AC -- --
Electric Motors & Gen. -- --
Pass. Car & Light Truck -- --
Med./Hvy. Truck -- --
Railroad -- --
Other -- 1
Total 87 80

* Excludes centrifugal cast pipe

Table 4. Forecast of Demand/Supply Conditions for Ductile
iron Engineered Castings for 2006 (excludes pipe)

Weight Equipment Domestic Supply D/S
(lbs) Category Demand (000 Tons) (000 Tons)

0-50 M/H Production 1,588 1,708 0.93
 Low Production 97 100 0.97

50-150 M/H Production 396 420 0.94
 Low Production 63 70 0.90

150-300 M/H Production 199 200 0.99
 Low Production 42 48 0.88

300-700 M/H Production 119 138 0.86
 Low Production 52 58 0.90

700 M/H Production 67 70 0.96
 Low Production 80 86 0.93

Total 2,703 2,898 0.93

Table 5. U.S. Demand for Non-Railroad Carbon & Low
Alloy Steel Castings by Weight Class in 2006 (000 tons)

 Weight Classes (lbs)

Industry 0-100 101-500 501-1,000 1,001-5,000

Values 30 17 10 6
Construction Equip. 62 60 38 17
Mining Mach. 27 30 11 6
Oil Field Equip. 15 17 10 10
Pumps 7 4 4 1
Trucks (*) 30 25 3 1
Others 10 8 11 17
Total 181 161 87 58

 Weight Classes (lbs)

Industry 5,001-10,000 >10,000 Total

Values 44 4 71
Construction Equip. 4 2 183
Mining Mach. 4 3 81
Oil Field Equip. 1 1 54
Pumps 1 1 18
Trucks (*) -- -- 59
Others 12 21 79
Total 26 32 545

(*) Includes military vehicles and parts

Table 6. Forecast of Demand/Supply Conditions in
2006 for Carbon/Low Alloy Steel Castings (non-railroad)

Weight Demand Supply
(lbs) (000 Tons) (000 Tons) D/S

0-100 173 195 0.89
100-500 165 200 0.83
500-1,000 89 98 0.91
1,000-5,000 60 70 0.86
5,000-10,000 28 34 0.82
> 10,000 38 45 0.84
Total 553 642 0.86
Total Railroad 629 684 0.92

Table 7. U.S. Demand for Corrosion Resistant
Steel Castings by Weight Class in 2006 (000 tons)

Weight
Class (lbs) Industry 0-100 101-500 501-1,000

Values 14 10 4 1
Others 30 22 7 5
Total 44 32 11 6

Weight
Class (lbs) 1,001-5,000 5,001-10,000 >10,000 TOTAL

Values 1 1 31
Others 3 3 70
Total 4 4 101

Table 8. U.S. Demand for Aluminum Castings
by Process in 2006 (000 tons)

 Casting Process

Industry Die Cast SPM LP

Int. Combustion Engine 93 34 --
Lawn & Garden 26 10 --
Power Hand Tools 30 9 --
Office Mach./Computer 43 9 --
Refrigeration/AC 49 1 --
Meters/Regulators 33 -- --
Motors/Generators 37 -- --
Home Appliances 50 11 --
Lighting Equip. 13 -- --
Communications Equip. 20 -- --
Motor Vehicles 886 270 220
Aircraft 24 26 --
Motorcycles/Bikes/Trans 45 17 --
Instruments 57 45 --
Marine & Other 85 58 --
Total 1,491 490 220

 Casting Process

Industry Sand Lost Foam Total

Int. Combustion Engine 6 -- 133
Lawn & Garden 3 -- 39
Power Hand Tools 5 -- 44
Office Mach./Computer 4 -- 56
Refrigeration/AC 1 10 61
Meters/Regulators -- -- 33
Motors/Generators 5 -- 37
Home Appliances 15 -- 76
Lighting Equip. -- -- 13
Communications Equip. -- -- 20
Motor Vehicles 117 120 1,613
Aircraft 48 -- 98
Motorcycles/Bikes/Trans 7 2 71
Instruments 24 -- 126
Marine & Other 40 8 191
Total 270 140 2,611

Table 9. Domestic Demand/Supply of
Aluminum Castings in 2006 (000 tons)

Process Demand Supply D/S

Die Casting (Auto) 886 960 0.92
Die Casting (Other) 605 680 0.89
Die Casting Total 1,491 1,640 0.91
Low Pressure 220 300 0.73
Permanent Mold 490 480 1.02
Green Sand 270 280 0.96
Lost Foam 140 220 0.64
Total Aluminum 2611 2920 0.89
COPYRIGHT 2006 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Kirgin, Kenneth H.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:3115
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