Investment Casting Industry 2017 Trends
According to the 2015 Metalcasting Forecast and Trends report published by the American Foundry Society, the U.S. metal casting industry sales were expected to reach $33.51 billion in 2017. With these projected numbers, we met with some of Milwaukee Precision Casting (MPC) management to report on the various industry trends they have experienced in the past year.
Milwaukee Precision Casting is a diverse foundry that works various markets, which has kept it on the positive end of various economic market trends. What they’ve seen this year is that the firearms industry is down, but surprisingly the oil and gas industry is picking back up. Orders that were once paused or inventoried for the past two years are now trickling in this quarter. The agricultural industry is proving to be steady and slowly increasing in 2017, which is great to see. With urbanization on the rise, there has been a huge growth for the construction and building cast parts. With this rise, Milwaukee Precision Casting had the opportunity to cast over 10,000 parts, including handrails, for the New York City subway system. From Milwaukee Precision’s experience, there is a constant fluctuation with industries that foundries service, so depending on which industry is trending upwards they stay focused and in touch with that customer base, which has been their key to success.
As economic opportunities trending upward for 2017, there has also been an uptake in technology across the industry. Technology has become increasingly important for quality, efficiency, and lead times throughout the years, and Milwaukee Precision Casting has taken various steps to stay competitive. At MPC, they now can control gas levels in their foundry, and consistently work on improving process control technology. They’ve invested in new machines, tool checkers, and a programmable CMM that has practically doubled their foundry size. MPC forecasts that technology advancements and investments will continue to trend upwards for several years to come.
With markets and technology trends, there has been a rise in international competition. International competition is casting at cheaper prices that make it extremely difficult for domestic companies to compete. Although there are steep price differences, MPC has seen that domestic companies are wanting to buy from U.S. companies. They consistently see that companies that try to buy internationally compromise on quality, communication is problematic, and the distance is too great sometimes. The international competition will never be obsolete, so MPC ensures that they are a premier foundry with excellent customer service to stay competitive.
During the next several years, Milwaukee Precision Castings foresees that industries they are closely working with continuing to prosper and with that, the technology advancements and international competition rising. Furthermore, as we continue to push for urbanization and globalization, the foundry industry will ultimately grow stronger.