specialty metal component

Forging vs. Casting, Billet, or Extrusion

Casting vs. forging vs. billet vs. extrusion are all methods of manufacturing metal into desired parts and components. Each process has its own benefits, and in this article we’ll take a look at what those are. 

Metal Forging

Using compressive and localized force in the forms of rolling, pressing, or hammering, forging forms metals (usually billets) into the desired shape or design that is needed for a specific purpose. The force used to manipulate the metal is achieved using a hammer, die, or press. There are three types of forging: cold, warm, and hot, with the warm and hot methods requiring the metal to be heated during the process. Most metals can be forged, although stainless steel, brass, aluminum, copper, alloy steel, and carbon steel are the most common. 

In industries such as the aircraft and automobile industry, forging is a necessity to create strong and reliable components that are used at points of intense stress, such as pistons and gears. For such features, aluminum forging is the number one choice because of its impeccable performance and strength.

Metal Casting

Casting is a form of producing a desired shape or component with the use of molds. A hot liquid (metal) is poured into a specific mold created for the necessary design, solidified, then removed and used as needed. 

Casting is much different than other forms of manufacturing metal components, due to the fact that the metal is turned into molten liquid metal before it is used. Casting is extremely accurate because the molds are intricately designed for a detailed and exact outcome. However, casting components are limited. When considering casting vs. forging, cast metal isn’t as strong as forged metal pieces and therefore limited in how it can be used. Still, for metal components that won’t be used at points of stress, cast metal can be useful. 

Metal Extrusion

During the metal extrusion process, a billet is forced through a die to create a particular shape or component. As the hot or cold metal passes through the die, it transmits that shape to the billet. Extrusion is an intense, high-pressure process for the metal and the outcome (extrudate) is a material that is often stronger than before it was extruded. The extrusion method is best for high-volume production but has cons. Metal extrusion can produce surface oxidation, which leads to cracking. Maintenance of machines is critical, as well as speed control during the process, to help avoid cracking. Also, while forging offers a 3-dimensional process, extrusion is limited to 2-dimensional only.  

Billet 

Extrusion, casting, and forging are all metal manufacturing processes. A billet is a component used in those processes, specifically in extrusion and forging. It’s designed as a solid piece of metal with criss-cross sections and can be molded, hammered, rolled, or pressed into whatever is needed. A billet is an excellent resource in the production of metal components because it’s cost-effective, quick, and the results are a strong metal product. 

In conclusion, casting vs. forging and extrusion is unique in the fact that it begins with the melting of metal and uses a specific mold to create the desired outcome. Forging and extrusion use pressure and force to manufacture metal components, with forging, specifically aluminum forging, achieving the strongest results. A billet is a metal used in forging and extrusion to press, mold, hammer, or die into the required piece.

At Cerro Fabricated Products we serve many industries with our brass, aluminum, and copper forging services. Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and help you determine which form of metal manufacturing is best for your particular needs.