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The importance of the casting industry

Many people are aware that manufacturing is important, but far fewer people are aware of how important the casting industry is. It’s responsible for parts that fuel everyday life, the economy and many other industries.

As we celebrate this year’s Manufacturing Month, we wanted to take a closer look at the casting industry and all that it contributes to the vitality of manufacturing.

Driving the economy

Since 1991, 90 percent of all durable goods produced each year incorporate cast metal components. Twenty-eight years ago, U.S. metal casting was a $19 billion dollar industry. Since then, its annual revenue has more than doubled to $33.7 billion. It provides 200,000 direct jobs and even more indirectly through its supply chain (Kaempf, 1993; AFS, 2019).

For an industry primarily dominated by small businesses, we make quite a big impact.

Casting in our everyday lives

According to the American Foundry Society (AFS), “you are almost never more than 10 feet from a metal casting” (afsinc.org, 2019). 

What’s the secret to that extra flavor in your favorite recipe? It just might be a cast iron pan.

“Metal castings are part of every car and truck, every railway car and engine, every building and every piece of heavy equipment used for construction and agriculture, and much more,” says AFS. (afsinc.org, 2019).

“Iron is the most-used metal in our lives” (Roth, 2012).  Not only is it everywhere in our everyday lives, it’s actually everywhere! Iron makes up “5 percent of the earth’s crust and some ores contains about 70 percent of iron. In addition, those ores can easily be extracted from earth.” (Roth, 2012).

This means iron is plentiful and accessible, and that’s why it’s the most commonly casted metal in the forms of gray and ductile iron, according to a Thomas for Industry blog entitled Materials Used In Castings.

An industry-supporting industry

This list, composed by the AFS, includes only the industries that directly rely on castings. There are even more that indirectly rely on castings and wouldn’t be the same without them.

  • Defense
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Agriculture
  • Aerospace
  • Oil and gas (energy sector)
  • Mining
  • Railroad
  • Municipal/water infrastructure
  • Transportation 
  • Health care

In an upcoming article we’ll dive deep into these and other industries too see just where they’d be without castings.

Supporting Small businesses

As we mentioned, the U.S. metal casting industry is composed of mostly small businesses. In fact, 75% of domestic metal casting companies operate with less than 100 employees (AFS, 2019). The industry has always been this way, too. In 1991, only 7 percent of casting businesses employed more than 250 people (Kaempf, 1993).

This gives even more dimension to the importance of our industry because in many industries, the size of the organization is a symbol for success. Many small, local businesses struggle to succeed or make a large impact. So, the metal casting industry is quite unique in the way it celebrates and runs on small, family-owned, local businesses.

Inspiring individual growth

In the casting industry, it’s all about the process and quality results. How do we create an efficient process? How do we generate quality results? It all comes down to inspiring and training quality employees.

Here at Lawton, we make improvements to our process through Lean. Not only does the everyday foundry environment require effective teamwork, but by involving employees in continuous improvement initiatives, we are able to help them enhance their teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As you can see from our History of Iron Casting articles, this industry is built on innovation. This remains true today as we continue to inspire innovative ideas. We do this at Lawton through EBI Lites and Just Do Its.

Lastly, this industry engages employees who learn by doing, and teaches them a trade that they can practice for life. Foundries like Lawton offer many opportunities to their employees to advance, learn other areas of the foundry and to move into supervisory positions. The employees are the ones who actually drive this industry and allow it to be so important. As you can see, we ensure that we deliver value to our employees, too.

Sustainable by nature

We have discussed in previous articles how the casting process is inherently sustainable and how many companies are involved in initiatives aimed at creating positive change for the environment. However, the metal casting industry as a whole is playing an even larger role in affecting positive environmental change.

In an article titled “Shaping America’s Future,” the North American Die Casting Association (2019) highlights that “Castings also play an integral part of the global energy-production chain. In addition to traditional uses for castings in oil and gas production, they are essential to the growth of renewable-energy sources and in the production of more energy-efficient vehicles. Bio power utilizes several cast components, including industrial fans, pumping equipment, piping and turbines while propellers, pumps and pumping castings are vital to the production of geothermal power. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the areas of most promise for alternative energy resources include biomass, geothermal heat, pumps, hydropower, solar photovoltaic, wind, and energy efficiency. Metal castings will play a key role in the expansion of all renewable energy sources.”

The casting industry is important for so many reasons. It supports other industries, small businesses, the global economy, the growth of the people who dedicate their time every day to building the industry and the environment. The C.A. Lawton Co. is proud to be a part of this industry.

Happy Manufacturing Month 2019!

Works Cited

Advanced Solutions International, Inc. Shaping America’s Future, https://www.diecasting.org/wcm/Die_Casting/Shaping_America_s_Future/wcm/Die_Casting/DC_Shape.aspx?hkey=ef77621e-91b7-47cb-ba35-f4d8e1671a1a.

August 18th, 2012 by tinaroth. “The Importance of Iron in Our Daily Life.” Iron Map, http://www.ironmap.com/the-importance-of-iron-in-our-daily-life/.

“Casting Applications.” The Metal Casting, http://www.themetalcasting.com/casting-applications.html.

“Importance of Metalcasting.” American Foundry Society, https://www.afsinc.org/importance-metalcasting-0.

“Industry Statistics.” American Foundry Society, https://www.afsinc.org/industry-statistics.

“Materials Used In Castings.” ThomasNet® – Product Sourcing and Supplier Discovery Platform – Find North American Manufacturers, Suppliers and Industrial Companies, https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/custom-manufacturing-fabricating/casting-materials.

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