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Author Archives: Astro Machine Works

  1. Key Differences Between Billet, Cast, & Forged Manufacturing

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    At Astro Machine Works, we specialize in the design and manufacture of custom machinery and parts. Equipped with over 30 years of industry experience, we have what it takes to produce custom machines, precision CNC machined parts, and reverse engineered components for customers across a wide range of industries. The knowledge and skills gained from our experience allow us to identify which manufacturing method is best suited for a particular project.

    Below, we highlight three common manufacturing methods—billet manufacturing, cast manufacturing, forged manufacturing—outlining what they involve and what advantages they offer to help new and existing customers understand which one is most appropriate for their projects.  

    Billet Manufacturing

    The term “billet” refers to the form of the metal being used in the manufacturing process rather than the manufacturing process itself. Billets are solid lengths of metal with square or circle cross-sections. They can be made of virtually any type of metal or alloy and to virtually any size to suit the part and production specifications.

    Billets are produced by continuous casting or hot rolling methods. Once they are in their initial form and size, they are generally shaped into the final part form and size through machining methods (e.g., CNC machining), which means excess material is removed from the workpiece.

    Compared to other manufacturing methods, billet manufacturing offers the following advantages:

    •   It is cost-effective in low quantities.
    •   It achieves a high degree of precision in manufactured parts.
    •   It produces parts with excellent structural integrity.
    •   It processes raw materials and produces finished parts in short lead times.

    Cast Manufacturing

    Cast manufacturing is a manufacturing method involving heating, melting, pouring, and cooling of metal. The metal is first heated to a molten state and then poured into a preformed mold. After the mold is filled, the metal is allowed to cool and harden. At which point, it can maintain the interior form of the mold and can be removed from the mold.

    Compared to other manufacturing methods, cast manufacturing offers the following advantages:

    •   It is cost-effective in low quantities (sand casting) and high quantities (die-casting).
    •   It accommodates a variety of part shapes and sizes.
    •   It achieves near-net-shape parts, which minimizes waste generation and eliminates the need for post-processing.

    Forged Manufacturing

    Similar to cast manufacturing, forged manufacturing involves heating the raw material. However, the material is only heated until it is malleable rather than molten. Once the material is sufficiently pliable, the manufacturer can shape it into the desired shape using various compressive methods. One of the most common forging methods involves the use of a forging die, which presses the softened metal into the proper shape and squeezes excess material out around the edge of the die. This excess material can be ground away once the part has cooled.

    Compared to other manufacturing methods, forged manufacturing offers the following advantages:

    •   It produces strong and durable parts.
    •   It accommodates a variety of part shapes and sizes.
    •   It is cheaper than casting.

    Contract Manufacturing Solutions at Astro Machine Works

    The billet manufacturing, cast manufacturing, and forged manufacturing methods offer unique advantages that make them suitable for different manufacturing projects. While some customers can find it challenging to determine which method is suitable for their project, an experienced and knowledgeable manufacturing partner can help identify which one is right for their needs.

    At Astro Machine Works, our extensive contract manufacturing experience makes it easy for us to guide customers from the initial project planning stage through to project completion, whether their project requires billet manufacturing, cast manufacturing, or forged manufacturing processes. To learn more about our contract manufacturing capabilities, visit our contract manufacturing service page. To discuss your project specifications with one of our experts, contact us today.

  2. Bring on 2021!

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    To Our Valued Customers:

    Happy New Year to All! Each year as the calendar turns, we try to utilize this season as a time of reflection and communication with our customer base. This is a moment for us to offer commentary on the events and accomplishments of the preceding year and to say “Thank You” for the trust and confidence that you, our customers, place in us throughout the year.

    In retrospect, 2020 started out with a vengeance as the economy was firing on all cylinders until about March when COVID-19 unfortunately became the buzzword of the year! Business as we knew it was instantly upended and it seems as though leaders and managers everywhere got caught up in the day to day implementation of risk mitigation strategies, and managing the emotions of their staff as we all navigated these unprecedented times together in the best way we knew how. Fortunately, we were considered essential by the current administration due to our involvement in the medical, food, pharma, energy, defense, and other related fields, losing no production as a result. Our attitude towards continuous improvement, however, did not waiver during this very unprecedented year, and much headway was made as a result. At Astro, we always approach challenge and uncertainty very aggressively and do not allow ourselves to be caught up in the hype of the situation, but rather stay grounded and focused on the task at hand. We are pleased to report that we have been fully operational and taking care of our customer base throughout this time, and have gained market share in the process, resulting in an unusual but outstanding year!

    We have just completed our 2021 Roadmap which represents our internal business plan and includes our budget and strategic goals and initiatives for continuous improvement for the upcoming year. This year will bring much in the way of process improvement and enhancement initiatives. Special attention will be given to project management, ERP upgrade consideration, advanced scheduling, and companywide CRM consolidation. Most importantly, is the projected completion of our sales and marketing process development and enhancement project to keep our process fresh, fully functioning and adhering to 2021 methodologies and standards. Additional commitments are being made in the area of IT to expand on our current compliance to NIST standards and achieve full CMMC Level 3 compliance and certification. As always, substantial investment dollars will be allocated for continued team member education and training, a commitment we make every year to assure our number one resource, our people, are equipped with the latest training and technologies.

    As 2021 commences, we are entering this new year with the headwind of a new resurgence in the pandemic, so we do not want to throw caution to the wind. However, our analysis of customer demand has caused us to put the impetus on a new machine purchase which is a huge game changer going into 2021. We have officially ordered a new Mazak 600 Series Integrex multi-tasking, 5-axis machining center, model e-670H to be exact! This will increase our turning capabilities to 42” diameter by 165” long with fully functioning 5 axis milling capabilities. This represents a huge commitment to our customer demands for larger milling and turning. We fully believe in the adage that “You cannot build your business of tomorrow on machines of yesterday” and believe in a steady reinvestment in the business and capital equipment to keep us on the cutting edge with machine tools of the latest technology.

    Another exciting announcement will be made in early 2021. Astro is in the final stages of upgrading our Quality Assurance Program for compliance to 10CFR50, Appendix B through implementation of the NQA-1 standard requirements. Upon completion we will be able to offer our customers in the nuclear industry expanded machining and fabrication services for safety related projects. This is another example of listening to our customers and being responsive to their needs!

    So, bring on 2021! We are committed to continued customer support regardless of the challenges of the day. Our focus is, was and always will be, continuous improvement to serve our growing customer base and manage the ever-increasing levels of sophistication our customers’ demand.

    In conclusion, we say from our team to yours; “We look very forward to providing continued support to our existing customer base in the upcoming year”. Regardless of how unusual and challenging this past year was, we at Astro thank you, our customer, for a great and memorable 2020!

     

    We wish continued growth and prosperity to you and your organization and look forward to working with you again in 2021!