What is the difference between cast aluminum and billet aluminum? What do you mean you don't know...? Alright well then CPM Industries is here to help. Hopefully by now you understand how aluminum is casted, but if you are new to our blog don't worry, we will review. To create an aluminum casting, one must first create a mold of the part that is to be created. The mold is formed when the pattern is pushed into chemically bound sand leaving the impression of the part to be casted. Once the mold is complete the molten aluminum is poured into the mold and allowed to cool and harden. Once the molten aluminum solidifies, the mold is pulled apart and out comes the desired part.
On the other hand, billet aluminum is formed in a completely different manner. To understand completely how a billet aluminum part is made, it is necessary to understand what a billet is. A billet is a solid block of aluminum (or any material) with the size depending on the size of your desired part. The larger the desired part, the larger the billet. Contrary to casting, billet parts are created by removing excess material from the billet, essentially the part is carved out of solid aluminum.
While both methods can produce the same exact part, each method has its own distinct set of advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of billet:
Cost effective in low quantities
High degree of precision
Very short lead times
Structurally the parts are stronger
Disadvantages of billet:
Costs increase as quantities increase
Some designs are not cost effective to machine
Some designs cannot be machined from solid billet
Advantages of Casting:
Cost effective at low quantities
Can produce parts of all sizes
Capable of producing uniquely shaped parts
Disadvantages of Casting:
Reduced dimensional accuracy compared to billet
Rough surface finish
Imperfections or defects in the metal
At CPM Industries, we actually offer both castings and parts from billet. However, in the Prototyping world we call parts machined from billet Hogouts or Mockups. Typically our customers use hogouts/mockups for testing purposes before an investment is made into Production Castings. While on the other hand we also have customers seeking a limited number of parts so Machining them from billet is more cost effective than casting the part.