The casting industry has grown largely in response to the demands of the automotive industry. The trend toward relocation of automobile manufacturers production overseas and the demands for greater environmental protection caused serious challenges to the casting industry. Moreover, increasing demands for more lightweight automobiles and conversion to lighter materials is also becoming a key trend in today's automotive industry.
investment casting,investment castings , Metal Castings
The casting industry supplies castings not only for the automotive industry but also for a number of other industries including farming and public works machines, machining tools and public services. It is indeed the backbone of many industries. The automotive industry, however, is the primary customer for the casting industry. Demand for automobile castings worldwide is largest in Japan at about 50%, rising to about 40% in other major industrial countries. As world car production is predicted to increase by about 20% by 2010, so should the demand for castings.
This large jump in demand and production is expected principally in Asia, excluding Japan, where the economy is growing rapidly. Thus, the 'motorisation' of China and other countries will result in an increase in the global production of castings. On the other hand, the production volume of casting in the US, Europe and Japan may increase to some extent but a large increase is not expected in these regions. There is no doubt however that the global casting industry will continue to rely on the automotive industry, the biggest consumer of castings, for its success.
Global trade is believed to affect the casting industry because castings can be moved across borders. However, the actual import/export to domestic production volume ratio of castings is as low as about 5%. Compared with other products such as cars, electrical appliances and machining tools, the movement of castings across borders is remarkably low. In major industrial countries, cross-border trade of castings has not changed significantly. This is partially because the statistics do not include the unit after machining or assembling. Although the statistics on assembled or machined components are important to measure the impact of global trade on the casting industry, unfortunately no such statistics are currently available. In any case, since close collaboration between users and casting manufacturers is very important, casting production is usually located near the customers' plants. Moreover, since the volume and weight of castings is very large, transportation costs are high and therefore offset the merits of cross-border trade. A large increase in global trade of castings is not anticipated for several years.
Recent sales figures and projected growth in the US market indicate ongoing trends in the metal casting market all over the world. Sales in 2006 were broken down by metal as:
- Aluminum - 32%
- Copper alloys - 4%
- Zinc - 2%
- Magnesium - 3%
- Iron - 35%
- Steel - 11%
- Other - 13%
The largest recipient was the car and light truck sector at 31%. Others included construction, mining and oil fields at 6%, pipes and fittings 15%, pumps and compressors 3%, municipal 3%, railways 6%, agricultural machinery 4%, valves 5%, internal combustion engines 5%.