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Jan 21, 2021

Metal Forming Trends & Manufacturing Outlook for 2021

By Paul Benny, CEO, FluidForming Americas

It's hard to write about the manufacturing outlook and metal forming trends for 2021 because 2020 was such an incredibly difficult year for American manufacturers and small businesses. Far too many family-run businesses and reputable manufacturers were forced to close their doors once and for all. Although the pandemic was a big driver, rising costs, trade wars, and supply chain uncertainty all factored into the devastating equation.

Although we mourn these staggering losses to the American economy, we're also inspired by the countless small businesses and manufacturing operations that went above and beyond to safely keep their employees on the shop floor.

American manufacturers rose to the challenges facing them by innovating creative solutions to incredible challenges, brainstorming new business models, overcoming enforced shutdowns, finding ways to navigate breakdowns in the supply chain, and manufacturing essential goods and medical equipment to actively fight the ravaging effects of COVID-19.

Resilience and fortitude define America and American manufacturing. After combing through economic outlook reports, research papers, and checking in with my colleagues in the manufacturing and metal forming industry, it's my sincere hope that with forethought and ingenuity, the manufacturing outlook and metal forming trends for 2021 are promising. (Click here for a closer look at our infographic.)

It'll be a rollercoaster, for sure, but we're holding out for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Metal Forming Trends 2021

Lightweight materials will matter more than ever before

The demand for lightweight materials for electric vehicles, solar panels, will prove to be a key to hydroforming growth. And here's a metal forming trend we're hoping really takes off: the growing recognition of precision hydroforming techniques like FluidForming (a process highly capable of forming complex parts from lightweight materials) will extend opportunities for the metal forming market.

Precision will become a higher priority

To gain a competitive advantage, industries that value precision — like aerospace, defense, sustainable energy, medical equipment, luxury consumer goods, and high-end appliances — will look for new metal forming solutions that can accommodate rapid prototyping, meet tight deadlines, and produce flawless and highly repeatable parts.

Sales of hybrid and electric vehicles will skyrocket

With California committing to phasing out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, automakers are taking notice as they look beyond the internal combustion engine for improved ways to power their vehicles. This is good news for precision metal forming and hydroforming companies like FluidForming Americas.

“The growth in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) is climbing and by 2025, EVs and HEVs will account for an estimated 30% of all vehicle sales. Comparatively, in 2016 just under 1 million vehicles or 1% of global auto sales came from plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)” (J.P. Morgan).

Pent-up demand will fuel growth

For defense and aerospace industries — which are closely tied to the metal forming industry — the forecast for 2021 and beyond is quite promising. The industry's growth rate — estimated through 2027 — of a CAGR of 4% totals approximately $20 billion (Grand View Research).

FluidForming Americas has reinvented the hydroforming process, making FluidForming the most accurate and highly repeatable manufacturing process available.

FluidForming is the perfect metal forming solution for rapid prototyping and small- to mid-size production runs. With a 99.996% first-pass yield rate, FluidForming hydroforming can help precision-focused industries like the automotive, photovoltaic, sustainable energy, medical equipment, and aerospace industries manufacture precision components.

Made in America will matter more

As companies look to improve sustainability efforts and shore up their supply chains, they'll be on the hunt for new manufacturing partners. We're going to hear a lot more about Made in America, buy American, reshoring, and dual shoring in the coming months.

Manufacturing Outlook 2021: By the Numbers

“By the second or third quarter, we'll likely be seeing GDP increases in the 3% to 4% range.”— Chris Kuehl, economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl. (FMA)
  • 51% of American manufacturing CFOs project an increase in customer demand in the next six months (BDO)
  • 63% of manufacturing executives have a “somewhat” or “very positive” outlook on business (Deloitte).
  • Global manufacturing value-added output will rebound in 2021 with a 6% value-add in manufacturing output compared to 2019 (Baker Mackenzie & Oxford Economics).
  • Due to pent-up demand, key manufacturing sectors, including the aerospace and automotive industries, are predicted to start recovering in the second half of 2021 (Baker Mackenzie & Oxford Economics).
  • The metal forming market is projected to grow with a CAGR of 2.59% over the forecast period of 2020-2027 (DataBridge Market Research).
  • Supply chain stability is the most critical factor in the recovery of the manufacturing industry (BDO).

Let's make 2021 the year of American manufacturing. Call us at 800-497-3545 or email us at

FluidForming Americas, Inc. is a member of the Precision Metal Forming Association and is AS9100 Rev D, ISO 9001:2015 certified.