What Is Billet Machining?

Posted by Bhavesh Joshi On Monday, February 11, 2013 0 comments
What Is Billet Machining?
In these days of advanced manufacturing, we are used to the assembly line style of making things where each step of the way a little part is added to another little part to make a larger part. That larger part is in turn combined with other parts to make an even more complex object. This continues on in the process until finally a finished product is made from all the individual parts.

But sometimes a part's integrity or strength can be compromised by being made up of a composite of things. Parts that have to operate in very high pressure environments can be broken if those individual parts start to come loose or even break off. This is unacceptable within industries that require parts to maintain their integrity through extremely punishing use. Broken parts lead to waste and even risks to employees.

Manufacturers solved this problem by creating some whole parts out of individual solid pieces of material rather than combining smaller parts. This process is called billeting and it can produce parts that can withstand extreme conditions, pressures and stresses because there are no individual parts to break loose.

Billeting is usually done with metal parts and can be a complicated process. It can be very easy to put smaller parts together to make a more complex shape. But when you have to create the complex shape out of one piece of material and still maintain the required precision, it can be very tedious work and also very expensive. Essentially billeting is the manufacturing equivalent of a sculptor carving his work out of a single stone or metal.

Fortunately technological advances allow machine shops to avoid the expensive process of carving out a single part by hand. Billeting can be done with robots and computers that automate the process under the control of a human operator. This greatly reduces the time it takes to create a billeted part, reduces the amount of wasted material, and even allows for a greater degree of precision than a human being could produce in a reasonable amount of time.

The most common material used in billet machining is aluminum, because it is a fairly malleable metal. Parts made of aluminum are usually billeted with lots of curves to strengthen the part and make it less likely to break or bend.

These days most billeting is done in a CNC machine shop. CNC, or computer numeric control, allows an operator to enter a precise program into a computer that controls machining equipment. This process produces billeted parts in a fraction of a time that human operating machining can produce similar parts. Running a CNC machine still requires knowledge of machining technology, but it allows the operator to take a more hands off approach to making billeted parts.

Billet machining is used in a wide variety of industries including automotive manufacturing, oil and gas, the marine industry, and in the aerospace industry. There are many job opportunities available to detail-oriented people who are mechanically inclined.


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