Although the manufacturing industry took a nosedive at the turn of the century, the outlook has been positive over the last few years.
In 2013, fabricated metals were the third largest U.S. manufacturing industry. 12% of all manufacturing employees in the U.S. are employed in this industry. Fabricated metal shipments totaled $345.1 billion.
In 2014, IndustryWeek predicted a 3-4% increase in manufacturing production (slightly higher than the GDP growth of 2.8%) and an addition of 356,000 manufacturing jobs. Figures from PR Newswire forecast a continuation of this upward trend for 2016.
American Metal Manufacturing Outlook
What about metal manufacturing in particular? When we talk about metal manufacturing, we're most commonly referring to metal fabrication. Metal fabrication covers everything from metal forming to cutting to assembly.
Some manufacturers that offer fabrication services will also provide engineering assistance, finishing services, and inventory management - so, those services may also fall under the umbrella of metal manufacturing.
Metal Fabrication Industry
According to TheFabricator, 2015 saw steady growth in metal fabrication. The vast majority of manufacturers anticipated a higher operating level than the previous year, and 84% reported stable or expanding new order activity.
The biggest gains for 2016 are in bending and welding fabrications. Metal bending surpassed laser cutting services for the first time in 2015 (current projected spending is $328 million for bending and $231 million for laser cutting).
Overall, welding is seeing the largest jump in spending - far surpassing the growth of bending. Total spend on welding is expected to reach $600 million.
The Future of American Metal Fabrication
Most experts predict positive growth for metal manufacturing in the USA over the next 5-10 years. As foreign wages continue to rise and market volatility increases, more and more companies will be moving their fabrications back to the U.S.
Reshoring is also expected to increase as the risks of offshoring continue to outweigh the minimal benefits.
Although the steel industry is facing some instability, metal fabrications continue to be in high demand.
Overall, the outlook is positive for metal manufacturing.
Manufacturers and their clients should be able to look forward to a stable, profitable future over the next few years.
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