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Old 01-26-2013, 02:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Crazy Billet Parts

Just wondering. Probably just me. I thought that billet means a big hunk of whatever metal (steel, aluminum...). So a billet whatsit would be machined out of a solid billet.

Lately I see things like grills made from pieces of thin aluminum and tubing, angles etc. along with a perforated piece being described as "billet".

So a frog could well be stated as a dinosaur!



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Old 01-26-2013, 04:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not sure what "billet" is supposed to mean when advertisers use it, but I can't stand it. It's become such a buzz word and I've been tired of hearing about it. I recall "billet aluminum" being used often to describe certain items.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Billet means the piece, or pieces of the piece, were machined from billet stock or, yes, one hunk of material. I assume that "billet" grilles would have each grille bar cut from billet stock, although they may be soldered, riveted, etc., together to a frame.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartl View Post
Billet means the piece, or pieces of the piece, were machined from billet stock or, yes, one hunk of material. I assume that "billet" grilles would have each grille bar cut from billet stock, although they may be soldered, riveted, etc., together to a frame.
^^This

You can have machined aluminum items from a cast piece, such as wheels. I am currently giving all of my polished aluminum items under the hood a brushed finish so that they match my machined billet items. Polished aluminum just isn't all that cool anymore.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Point is IMO the term billet is mis used!
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Point is IMO the term billet is mis used!
Advertising is all about terminology and how it can be misused in order to trick people.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Advertising is all about terminology and how it can be misused in order to trick people.
Do most know what billet means? The mint is selling gold coins. They are plated with angstroms of gold!
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Do most know what billet means? The mint is selling gold coins. They are plated with angstroms of gold!
To me, it seemed that the ads always made it out to be some kind of fabulous new material, not just a different process of machining or creating a piece. Maybe that's because I didn't like the look and never paid much attention to the ads. However, maybe I'm right on target because the purpose of an advertisement is to grab your attention for a split second and deliver the most amount of information to you as fast as possible. Ads are made to be skimmed and for your own conclusions to be drawn as to why that product or service would work for you.

So, if those coins are plated with just one angstrom of gold, does that mean the gold would wear off after being handled one time?
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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"Billet" is a term which is annoying about every machinist on the planet anyway these days. It can mean lots of things but generally refers to a hunk of aluminum cast as "machinable" and intended to be machined. As opposed to "die-cast" where the aluminum is simply poured into a mold and the result is fairly rough and semi-porous looking part. A good example of die-cast would be an automatic transmission case. Advertised as "billet" infers the part has been machined out of single cast hunk of aluminum . To a machinist a billet is simply a cast (as opposed to forged) hunk of some sort of metal. Usually cast in shape that makes it easy to mount in a machine versus an ingot which is cast in (usually) a larger shape for convenient transport and storage. He'd like you to say something like "a 30 pound billet of 6061-T6" . Even then the guy might prefer you just say a "hunk, chunk, or piece" just because of just the type of abuse the term billet is suffering from as Slim is pointing out. An annoyed machinist might say something like "You sure you want that made out of billet and not cast?" To be reminded of why that is a sarcastic thing to say, re-read sentence number two.
I am no machinist but as a car hobbyist the mere mention of "billet" in any way maeks me roll my eyes. Kind of a shame because there are some really nice parts out there that look wonderful right up until they get that label.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It can mean lots of things but generally refers to a hunk of aluminum cast as "machinable" and intended to be machined.
This is what I was wondering...you can cast, for example, a window crank by pouring the aluminum into a mold, or you can machine it from a solid piece of aluminum, however, how does that solid piece of aluminum first become a solid chunk? Doesn't that have to be "cast" as well?
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Sounds kind of nitpicky but that's what I mean "cast as machinable". A die-cast door handle would be removed from the mold, cleaned up, and have a knob put on it. Ready to go. A door handle from a a piece of billet starts out as a rectangular piece of metal and everything that is not door handle has to be machined off of it.
Machinists by nature are a bit nitpicky about such things. A thousandth of an inch too much cut off can mean an entire day's work just went into the scrap pile.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GypsyR View Post
"Billet" is a term which is annoying about every machinist on the planet anyway these days. It can mean lots of things but generally refers to a hunk of aluminum cast as "machinable" and intended to be machined. As opposed to "die-cast" where the aluminum is simply poured into a mold and the result is fairly rough and semi-porous looking part. A good example of die-cast would be an automatic transmission case. Advertised as "billet" infers the part has been machined out of single cast hunk of aluminum . To a machinist a billet is simply a cast (as opposed to forged) hunk of some sort of metal. Usually cast in shape that makes it easy to mount in a machine versus an ingot which is cast in (usually) a larger shape for convenient transport and storage. He'd like you to say something like "a 30 pound billet of 6061-T6" . Even then the guy might prefer you just say a "hunk, chunk, or piece" just because of just the type of abuse the term billet is suffering from as Slim is pointing out. An annoyed machinist might say something like "You sure you want that made out of billet and not cast?" To be reminded of why that is a sarcastic thing to say, re-read sentence number two.
I am no machinist but as a car hobbyist the mere mention of "billet" in any way maeks me roll my eyes. Kind of a shame because there are some really nice parts out there that look wonderful right up until they get that label.
You are close but just to clarify. Generally when something is machined from aluminum it is machined from an extrusion rather than a casting. This is what most people refer to when they say billet. An extrusion will have a different grain structure than a casting and no porosity. A casting is when the aluminum is melted and poured into mold- usually at low pressures. Often the extrusion will have some sort of heat treatment too. A die cast is when aluminum is injected into a mold. Die castings are especially popular on thin walled parts and often times have other alloys like zinc mixed in.
So all dimensions being equal, a "billet" piece will be stronger than a casting and a casting will often times be stronger than a diecast. Of course a forging is stronger than them all but that is a different topic.
What bugs me is when they advertise things like:
"Computer designed", "Made to CAD tolerances", "Uses aircraft grade aluminum" etc.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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My local metal supplier calls my favored aluminum alloys "cast extrusions". Figure that one out. Depends on waht part of the country you are in or something I guess. I've always liked the "aircraft grade". Like that means anything at all. It will make a certain Boeing engineer type nuts if you mention it to him. Tends to get me kicked out of his office. Funny as heck though.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:27 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Just to confuse things even more, all aluminum must go through the smelting process, then be cast into standard shapes, i.e., slabs or blooms. These can then be remelted and die cast. This is the quickest and cheapest way to form a finished part. If not diecast, the blooms can be rolled into sheets as specified by the buyer. They can also be extruded, that is forced through a die the shape of the end product, then cut to length. They can be stamped in a press. They can also be forged into shape. Forging produces the strongest parts. Billet machining is the most expensive because it takes the longest and produces the most scrap. Billet machining is no indicator of strength or quality.
All of these processes are used with steel, bronze, alloys, and even titanium.
I'm sure most of you already knew most of this. For those that didn't, are you sufficiently confused yet?
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Billet seems to have become a word that simply means "machined." Should be "machined from a billet" but I guess that's hard to say in conversation.

Very informative thread.
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