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what is exactly billet?


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Bilet means the wheels (usually refers to the centres) are machined from a solid block of aluminium rather than cast to a shape. Its generally accepted that a component machined from billet will be stronger (and possibly lighter?) than an equivalent part that is cast.



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bit difficult to forge a wheel I would have thought.


The classic example given at school was something like a lifting hook on a crane. If you shaped this by machining a solid piece of steel then at some point the 'grain' of the metal would be going across the hook (i.e from one side to the other, creating a weak point).


If you take a piece of metal, heat it and then bend it into shape the grain will be running along the hook, i.e in a curved shape.


this then means the hook will be much stronger.


Edited by - MikeE on 11 Apr 2003 09:47:03

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A cast item is made by pouring molten metal in to a mould. The precision of the raw casting is relatively poor, and the metal has undergone an inescapable heat treatment. The raw casting will then usually be machined where you need good accuracy. This is the cheapest way of making parts.


A forged part is made by beating a lump of metal to the desired shape, and like casting, it will usually be followed by machining. The finished part will be much stronger than a cast part, but the forging process is quite expensive. (Porsche used to fit forged wheels to the 911s for many years, and they were much better than any aftermarket wheel)


Billet items are made by carving a piece from solid, usually on a CNC mill. The advantage is that you can start with a high grade material, so it will be stronger than casting, but not neccessarily as strong as forging. No additional machining is required. This was traditionally a very time consuming and expensive process, but the modern CNC machines have made it a lot more affordable.



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