Iron and steel casting and forging is used in the manufacture of iron, steel, copper and aluminium products. Casting involves melting metal and pouring it into a mould, while forging involves the use of machinery to hammer or press metal into pre-determined forms, typically after heating it.
Businesses tend to perform casting or forging, not both. Most are small, with ‘jobbing’ (one off) or ‘batch’ production systems. A handful of very large businesses dominate the sector by value. The sector overall is versatile, with a wide range of products and well established markets. Key products include automotive parts, equipment for railways, shipping, mining, construction, manufacturing and agriculture, machine tools and parts and water, sewerage and drainage systems.
There are significant sustainability issues in casting and forging. The heat intensive processes typically use coal fired or electric furnaces; electricity is used to run heavy machinery. This creates high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and significant exposure to the Carbon Price. Hazardous substances are used in production and may contaminate wastewater; fumes and particulates may be released. The raw materials for this sector are non-renewable minerals and ores, with limited options for alternatives.
The mix of sustainability issues will vary between sectors and enterprises. The mix might even vary between work processes in a business. It really depends on the context of market pressures, regulations and the steps that make up the daily routine. And how they all interact with the range of social, economic and environmental sustainability issues
There are many different ways to approach understanding the sustainability issues within a sector. Areas of research might include barriers to entry and expansion into markets, drivers of demand for services and products, geographic location, major markets and suppliers, technology and workforce demographics and skills profile.
Other metal production processes are covered in Sustainability issues in metal fabrication.
Sources of information
Employment and occupations
Sustainability issues in the metal casting and forging sector
IBIS World Industry Research Reports
IBIS World Industry Research Reports can be purchased individually or as a subscription. For this sector they include:
- C2712 Iron and Steel Casting and Forging
- C2733 Non-Ferrous Metal Casting.