“Although price remains a critical component when dealing with international markets, it is our ability to cast quality components in a wide variety of metals that has given us the edge in these markets,” Banks says.
The international market is familiar with investment-cast procedures and its advantages, and Banks says that this method is popular in the aerospace, automotive, medical, petrochemical and mining industries. He says that while there is a growing awareness in South Africa for investment-cast components it is by no means at the levels found overseas.
Products investment-cast by Rely Precision Castings for international customers include pump and valve components, petrochemical and general mining components. Among the metals used are nickel-based alloys, heat-resisting stainless-steel alloys and cobalt-based alloys.
Banks says that, while North America remains the largest investment-casting market in the world, the European market has grown and currently accounts for between 20% and 25% of global sales. The European investment-cast component market can be split into three main. classifications namely high-added-value, automotive and other markets.
It is interesting that the UK dominates European production with some 52% of sales, while France and Germany are the next largest producers with 19% and 18% respectively.
It is also of significance that the high-added-value sector constitutes the majority of UK sales with a similar pattern in France. In Germany the automotive sector is of equal value to the high-added-value; however, in countries where lower-cost production is prevalent it is not surprisingly that there is increased manufacture of these lower-value castings.
“We believe that purchasers of investment castings will continue to drive for lower process costs which will increase the pressures on the investment-cast supply chain,” Banks says. “This means that the industry will need to develop new value-added applications, and we are well poised to provide these sorts of solutions.” Another advantage is that Rely Precision Castings has a permanent representative based in Europe who is able to assess and provide appropriate solutions for particular cast components.
The company is one of the oldest foundries in the Southern Hemisphere, and is the only foundry that can offer all three casting processes and such a wide range of metals. The foundry is ISO 9001:2000 accredited, and operates its own laboratories, which further assures customers that quality standards are consistently met.