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What’s a boon for manufacturing? One word: Plastics

Marketplace Contributor Aug 3, 2012

What’s a boon for manufacturing? One word: Plastics

Marketplace Contributor Aug 3, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Well when the employment report comes out this morning, economists will be looking to see how many jobs were created in the manufacturing industry. Now when I think manufacturing jobs, I think hard-hatted steel workers. But a big part of the growth in the country’s manufacturing base is actually in plastics.

From WCPN in Cleveland, Brian Bull reports.

Brian Bull: At Venture Plastics in Newton Falls, Ohio, sales V.P. Bryan Osborne points out plastic components being made for cars, including some curved, triangular panels. 

Bryan Osborne: These parts go on the interior of the vehicle. They’re down near the sides of your seat.

Half of a new car is plastic. That’s 400 pounds of material in a light car, 20 times more than the amount used 50 years ago. 

Osborne: Manifolds, fuel rails, throttle bodies, your entire interior now is mainly plastic, spoilers that are on cars. In fact, all of your chrome parts on a vehicle are actually plastic parts that get chromed, they’re not metal.

In 2009, roughly 8.5 million cars were made in the U.S. But with the recession’s effects easing up, Osborne projects almost double that amount will be made next year and the increases aren’t just happening to plastic, and it’s not just happening in the automotive sector.

Ohio Aluminum Industries in Cleveland makes parts for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the Airbus A380. Steve Swarthout is the company’s vice president of sales.

Steve Swarthout: From last year, we were up 10 percent.  And this year, we’re going to be up another 30 percent. Basically, Boeing and Airbus can’t build planes fast enough.

Aerospace has also boosted titanium. It’s as light as aluminum, and as strong as steel. The International Titanium Association says after the recession, there’s been a spike in orders for airframes, among other things.

Mitch Bowers: We’re optimistic with the continuation of the aviation, medical, petro-chemical markets, that we’ll continue to have slight increases.

At G & S Titanium in Wooster, Ohio, company president Mitch Bowers roams his plant in a golf cart. G & S makes a variety of products, ranging from springs and fasteners for the Airbus, to shrapnel used in Sidewinder missiles. Looking forward, Bower says there’s room to grow.

Bowers: When we bought the land out here, we projected to put in enough space to double the company.  So we have adequate room, space to add more equipment for the future, if we need to.

Bowers says he’s also brought back four of the ten people his company laid off a few years ago. 

In Wooster, Ohio, I’m Brian Bull for Marketplace.

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