A Career for Life

The castings industry is growing and more than 100 million tonnes of casting are produced globally each year.

There are around 400 foundries in the UK. They are located in all parts of the country, with the main concentrations in the Midlands and South Yorkshire (Sheffield) areas. All of the UK foundries are listed in the ‘Foundry Yearbook’ and the ‘Casting Buyers Directory’.  For further information on foundries in your region please contact info@icme.org.uk

Castings are here to stay! If you like new technology, solving problems or working with your hands, designing and making things that actually shape the world, then this could be the industry for you. Engineering skills are in high demand and we need engineers, technicians, moulders, patternmakers, quality engineers, designers and automation specialists to help us shape how we live, how we travel, how we work and how we play.

A range of pathways for young people to embark on a career in the castings industry – foundry, moulding and coremaking, patternmaking, die casting, investment casting, tooling design and methods engineering.

Foundries in the UK
Tonnes of casting produced
People employed

What is Casting?

Made by pouring molten metal into a mould, castings can be used to make parts of complex shapes that would be difficult or uneconomic to make by other methods (such as forging, assembling components or cutting from solid material).

Castings processes may be sub-divided into processes in which the mould is destroyed as part of the process and those in which the mould may be re-used (termed die-casting).

In sand casting the hollow mould is made of bonded sand using a wooden pattern, which is in the shape of the component to be made. Hollow sections can be introduced through the use of sand cores placed into the mould cavity. The pattern is removed and molten metal is poured into the cavity. Once the metal has solidified, the sand mould and any cores are removed. The pattern may be re-used and the sand can generally be recycled.

In diecasting, the mould is made of metal and is called a tool or die. The molten metal is introduced into the die by gravity or under low pressure or high pressure. The die may be re-used many thousands of times to produced thousands of components.

Investment casting, in which a wax copy of the component is used to produce a ceramic mould, has been in existence for thousands of years, yet is still used to produce large numbers of high quality castings for aerospace and medical applications.

Other variations of casting processes include rapid prototyping, centrifugal casting, continuous casting and processes in which a semi-solid metal billet is squeezed into the mould or die, e.g. rheocasting and thixoforming.

The choice of process is determined by the number of components required, the metal alloy to be cast, the price per part and properties such as surface finish, strength etc.

The industry also uses additive manufacturing techniques to produces patterns and moulds to enable rapid prototyping and for design flexibility.

Applications of Castings

The single bigggest use for cast metals components is in the automotive industry as engine blocks, crankshafts, wheels and turbochargers and many more. They are also used in telecommunications (as mobile phone casings) in the aerospace and rail industries, in the oil, gas and chemical industries (as pumps, valves and pipes) and as tools and machines for other industries, such as steel and paper rolling plant. Castings can weigh as little as a few grammes to several hundred tonnes.

The industry therefore has to ensure that it has sufficient numbers of competent engineers and skilled people who are able to understand the requirements of other manufacturers.

The Global Industry

More than 100 million tonnes of castings are produced globally each year – demand is continuing to grow.

In the UK there are around 18 thousand people directly employed in the castings industry and a further 6 thousand employed in the large supplier industry, supplying alloys, materials, design, die/pattern-making and finishing processes.

The industry has invested heavily in recent years to reduce costs, to increase productivity and to meet the current environmental legislation. Many of the newer operations have high environmental standards and use the most advanced technology.

For more information about the castings industry, different casting processes or properties of casting alloys please contact us.