Key Differences Between Billet, Cast, & Forged Manufacturing

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.

Categories: Manufacturing