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Metal & Advanced Materials

Alabama has a long tradition in metals manufacturing. Birmingham, the state’s largest city, was built on iron and steel, thanks to the area’s rich deposits of iron ore, coal, and limestone. With those ingredients in place, it’s no wonder that Vulcan — the Roman god of the forge — emerged as a powerful symbol of a fast-growing industrial city in the early 1900’s.

Today, metals manufacturing takes place across the state. Plus, Alabama is forging a new base in the production of advanced materials including titanium and carbon composites.

An abundance of mineral wealth has made the state ripe for economic development and set the stage for growth in the metals manufacturing sector. More than 1,100 primary metal manufacturing companies call Alabama home, including the biggest players in steel, water and sewer pipe, specialty metals, and composites.

As of December 2021, over 45,000 Alabama residents are employed in the primary and fabricated metal manufacturing industry, an indication of the sector’s scale.

Key players continue to invest in Alabama. In February 2021, ArcelorMittal started construction on a $775 million electric arc furnace steelmaking facility at its AM/NS Calvert mill near Mobile. In October 2020, U.S. Steel announced that it had successfully started its own EAF at its Fairfield Works operation near Birmingham.

Another indicator shows the global reach of the sector: Exports of primary metal manufactured goods and fabricated metal manufactured goods from Alabama exceeded $1.3 billion in 2021.

Alabama also has a solid grip on the future in the form of carbon fiber and advanced materials. Two of the world’s largest producers of carbon fiber, Toray and Hexcel, have substantial facilities in Decatur. Meanwhile, Carpenter Technologies is producing premium specialty alloys such as titanium for the aerospace and other industries from an ultramodern plant in Athens, where it is establishing an R&D center focusing on additive technologies. And GE Aviation is 3-D printing jet engine fuel nozzles at its plant in Auburn and operating a pair of factories in Huntsville that produce futuristic ultra-lightweight materials for engine components.

Quick Facts

  • Metal manufactured goods exports from Alabama were valued at over $1.3 billion in 2021.
  • The primary metal manufacturing industry accounted for 16,300 Alabama jobs in December 2021.
  • Fabricated metal manufacturing exports from Alabama were valued at $453 million in 2019.
  • The fabricated metal product manufacturing industry accounts for almost 29,000 jobs.
  • 1,100 primary metal companies in Alabama.
  • Alabama is the home of 3 of the nation’s 7 major pipe-makers.
  • 45,100 employed in primary and fabricated metal manufacturing as of December 2021.

Metal Manufacturing Companies

  • ArcelorMittal/Nippon Steel (AM/NS Calvert)
  • United States Steel
  • McWane Inc.
  • Lakeside Steel
  • GE Aviation
  • Toray
  • Hexcel
  • U.S. Pipe
  • Outokumpu
  • GD Copper USA
  • Carpenter Technology
  • CMC Steel
  • Shelco Foundries
  • Bermco Aluminum
  • Berghoff Group
  • SSAB Americas
  • Berg Pipe

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