I'll start off with a link to some pictures - if you wish to see them. On the page "Man Working" ... you'll note a chunk of solid steel - 2 1/2" by 1/1/2" by about 8" long. It weighs about NINE pounds. Alittle farther down the same page, you'll see pics of the same pc. (after every surface of the block was machined within an inch of it's life) ... weighing about 3 1/2 pounds. That was fashioned from what the vast portion of machinists would call BILLET. http://www.glbarnes.com/man.html
Concentrating on the surface texture of the original chunk of material is splitting hairs. Any decent part is machined, turned, sanded, polished ... in other words ... "finished" before being put into use. Who argues over if a gun stock was made from a rough sawn plank or a plank that had been thru a planer first? The whole thing is sawn, machined, ground, sanded, and finished to make the final product.
For pics of the final finished billet reciever - please look at http://www.glbarnes.com/prairie.html You will see the rough (yeah it was rough) chunk of steel transformed into a highly complex machined part. About six pounds of steel was machined off of the original billet to end up with this part. Down the page alittle (on the man working page), you'll note a front barrel clamp which also contains the mortise socket for the forestock tenon. That aluminum came into my shop in oversized bar stock - relatively smooth outside. Can you see the material removed and the machining operations required to make the completed stock from the initial "billet" of material I clamped into the milling machine?
This discussion of billet vs. bar stock has much to do with the relative size of the completed item vs. the material from which it was fashioned. If a part can be put into service by simply sawing off a length of material and drilling a couple of holes for example ... it's traditionally said to be made from bar stock. If quite a lot of machining is required to make the part (if significant material is removed) it's traditionally said to be made from billet. My nine pound chunk of solid steel might be bar stock (in a shipyard) but it's billet when two thirds of it's mass is going to be machined away prior to finishing an airgun receiver. If my barrel clamp was a thin flat section of material with two holes in it, I'd call it bar stock.
I know alittle bit about billets. The American Bladesmith's Society certified me as a Master Bladesmith in 1983. I've forge welded quite a pile of damascus steel billets and have the achy shoulders to prove it. Once I forge welded a billet of steel - I often used my power hammer and/or rolling mill to shape it into rough bars. Now - they had a rough surface texture and rounded edges. Guess they were still billet in bar length. A session on the surface grinder turned them into precision ground bar stock. It was the same material going thru different phases of finishing. Some blades were forged to shape (hand hammered) right from a chunk stretched off the billet of forge welded damascus. For pocket knife parts, I transformed material into the precision ground bars required to make a precision product.
Finally ... "Cool" was a word refering to the relative state of temperature difference between two objects until the 1950's. In the 1970's, you took note of the subject when you heard the word "Hot" (girl or bowl of soup?). When "billet" is being nearly universally used today to describe an extreme machining requirement to reach the final completed part, I don't see the point in arguing the terminology - unless you don't do much machining from "billet". Personally, I make parts from billet (BOTH uses of the word). I machine objects from 9 pound chucks of steel, and I machine objects from oversized sections of aluminum which arrives at my shop in managable forms. Some start with a smooth outside surface ... until I machine it off. Mostly we use the preshaped forms (square - rectangle - round) to aid in clamping and aligning the materials during initial machining operations. I've never seen one of those custom wheel machines have a mis-shapen, rough, clump of aluminum clamped to it's table to start. All I've ever noted was a gleeming, precision turned, flat and true initial billet of material going into the booth.
My understanding of the term "billet" from a sales perspective is meant to imply a lot of machine work went into producing the finished product, instead of the cheaper and easier methods of stamping or casting. Machining typically produces more uniform parts, tighter tolerances, than casting or stamping, therefore a part made from "billet" would be better from a precision standpoint. Machining usually cost more than the other methods, so a good sales point to help justify the cost of the finished product is to tell the potential buyer which parts are machined, hence the common use of the word "billet."
I recently purchased an IZH46M and was quite surprised by the amount of machine work that went into producing such an inexpensive gun. Most of the parts are either stamped or cast, but the cast parts still required a fair amount of machining. I guess skilled labor in Russia is cheap. I did notice some of the "machining" was done with a grinder!
I think it is a good word and it is justified to use it, as long as you know what it means.
'Grinding" is a machine process. This is all just "Alphabet Soup".
August 24 2005, 12:10 PM
Some of the most accurate surfaces have to be 'ground' as a cutting (like a lathe/mill use) tool cannot give as close a tolerance or finish. Almost all machine shops 'grind' something. Precision surface grinding is done to the surfaces of most machine tools (like bed of lathe or table on mill) to make them give the precise run out required. Simple milled or turned process won't give same results.
But this whole deal/discussion/debate is a falicy that I see so often in the process control industry. We fondly call it "alphabet soup". It is when more time is spent on debating terminology rather than the resulting impact. Most typically the debate/argument is between vendors not end users (airgun shooters are the 'end-user' here).
Billet is a fine example. IMHO it really comes under the term of who cares.
If the resulting product is top quality who cares if it started as a billet or not?
Top quality metal products are produced in a multitude a ways. Steel is a amazing material in that you can get many different properties from the same alloy. Different temper, heat treat, suface hardness, ductility, thoughness can all be had from same stuff. This is far far more important than if it is or is not a "billet".
Wendy's uses square patties, Whataburger uses round patties. Who cares as what you want is the best hamburger. Your cardiologist doesn't like either.
This message has been edited by 177fan on Aug 24, 2005 12:14 PM
I used to work in a machine shop and one of the coolest machines was the grinder! It had a giant electro-magnetic bed that would slide back and forth under the grinding wheel and index with each cycle, very nice. The Izzy looks like it was done with a hand grinder! It does not affect anything, but the part was not squared when a chamfer was cut, so the lines are not parallel.
Another nice grinder was the one that mounted on a lathe. It has been over twenty years since I was in a machine shop, so the "alphabet soup" names of the equipment elude me, LOL.
and it's a must have machine for virtually any toolroom. Simpler ones have no automatic advance or back and forth motion. All movements are done manually (very tiring to do all day long). Better ones have mechanical long and cross feed and the best ones use hydraulics for all table motion. The last shop I ran had a real nice 6x18 Brown & Sharpe Micromaster hydraulic surface grinder, plus a really large 18x48 (that's the magnetic chuck size) hydraulic grinder. The machine itself had to have a 15 foot long bed. RB
The misuse of the term "billet", as Tim said, is more about sales & marketing than its true definition.
This was an informational post, it had nothing to do with sales on my part. This is another case of you not being able to present a reasoned discussion, but just another chance to snipe, showing your animosity towards me.
"A breech maker tried to impress people by saying that the breech was made from a billet. The breech was made from bar stock and it’s a mistake to believe that making a breech from a roughly formed piece of metal would make a better breech. But that’s what people claiming to make things out of billets are telling you"
I for one appreciate the information Dennis offered. I've always thought when seeing the word "billet" that it implied a special preparation to justify the high cost of the piece in question.Thanks to him I now know differently.In teaching it's ALL about proper use of terms. Perhaps it changes over time, but the history is very important.
Don't flatter yourself! This in addition to your childish antics at Little Rock is all the proof any reasoned person should need to see who REALLY harbors animosity.
I knew immediately that you were pursuing an agenda when I read your original post. I was actually enjoying it until I read the "other gun maker" bit. Spare the public your opinion of "other gun makers", save it for your personal web page.
Resolved! Call your steel supplier and order a billet
August 24 2005, 12:19 PM
I'm going to keep this only on a definition of a billet and not getting sidetracked into the nonsense side of the discussion. Call your local steel supplier and ask them for a billet in the sizes of steel that you would use for an airgun.
The definition of a billet is well defined by the steel industry, by such entities as ASTM, ASME, AISI, American Society of Metals & SAE. As Tim summerized the term "billet" is misused for sale and marketing purposes.
A bit of OT on surface grinders is that they are not at all used as much nowadays as they used too be. The modern CNC machines, high speed machineing and regular, will make surface finishes so good they arent needed as much. The reason is that we can use MUCH higher speeds and feeds than was possible with old machines.
All this back and forth about billet, sawn stock, precision ground, surface ground, etc, why is this such a big deal?
"A breech maker tried to impress people by saying that the breech was made from a billet. The breech was made from bar stock and it’s a mistake to believe that making a breech from a roughly formed piece of metal would make a better breech. But that’s what people claiming to make things out of billets are telling you. When I have students in the shop, one of the things I insist on is that they learn “the language”, to know the names of things and their use. If one doesn’t, they’re going to use the wrong terms and “impress” people with how much they don’t know."
A BREECH MAKER? - instead of beating around the bush why don't you just save us all the time and bickering back and forth and identify who you are talking about? I have no idea what the hell is going on, but based on this back and forth I would presume that you and "a breech maker" have some kind of ongoing problem with each other. To be honest, I'm tired of the games and back and forth. Just say in plain English what you are implying with this whole thread. Do you have a problem with Gary Barnes? Who doesn't know what they are talking about? If you are going to provide a consumer warning and save us from all of this false billet talk, don't make me have to figure out who the unknowledgable breech makers are, please just tell me (since obviously you arleady know them).
to the party Greg that's all. For some reason I have never understood, the guy that make Chevys and the guy that makes Bentleys are apt to think they compete with each other and trade barbs. Both great products but not anywhere near the same. IMO
This message has been edited by airTOMYgun1 on Aug 24, 2005 4:58 PM
You would have enjoyed the Nationals this year, at least course wise. The 16-30 course was VERY challenging. There weren't any impossible shots, but there weren't any that you could relax on either. Twice I made the 23 yard 3/8" fly that was about 10 feet up in tree, but I somehow manage to miss a 1" at 20 (second shot) and a 1" at 25 (second shot). These two were basically the only shots you could have called gimmes on the course. Luckily the weather was great both days or the difference in difficulty could had been a HUGE handicap for those who had to shoot the hard course on the bad weather day.
I was glad to see a National event finally average better then a 40. Lets hope the future events take notice and up the ante even more. It is the premere event so lets make it really tough say a 48 or so !!!
Well, I am all for a 48T for the PCP shooters, but a 48T is a bit unfair for the spring gun crowd, unless you limit the targets to a distance of 40-45 yards. We spring gunners like to knock a target down every once in a while too you know!
At the Roanoke airgun show a fellow was telling me that his breech was made from a billet. I had an informational post, it had nothing to do with the breech maker, except to mention that there is no such thing as a billet used for making the breech.
The breech maker is not my adversary. When he talked about a billet, I explained to him like in the original billet post why that wasn't right. He agreed, because the breeches are not said to be machined from billets. An aspiring machinist should use the correct terms.
I put up a post to correct what I see as a mistake in terminology.
It's only important when you compare finished items. Let's see:
Barrel Clamp: maybe $20 vs. Barrel Clamp: maybe $100. Who cares? The buyer. If one is a little thin band sawn strap of bar stock with a couple of holes in it and a grub screw ... and the other is a billet machined far more complex pc. ... maybe the buyer sees WHY they'd cost a different amount and require a different amount of tooling and time to produce.
Trigger Guard: maybe $5 vs. Trigger guard: maybe $75. Who Cares? The buyer. If one's a little bent strap of iron and the other is a machined (maybe integral) part of the trigger block. Maybe the buyer sees a difference in the work required.
Reciever: one may be a screwed on length of tubing, the other machined from a nine pound block of steel - with integral valve body. Who cares? The person writing the check mostly. It would seem that both techniques can producing a functional object - it would also seem obvious why one technique may require more time and money to produce. If a person doesn't care to buy one or the other, they won't. If they are intrigued by and want one over the other - they will.
This is a manufactured argument. Anyone today - asked to identify a billet item from among a choice of objects could do so. The opposite of billet is (mostly) sawn, stamped, laser cut items from sheet stock or flat bar stock. Such parts mostly have a 2 dimensional look. Square edges - often cut from a far thinner material. They can have a "paper doll" look unless great care is taken to finish them. Billet items almost always have an "organic" look. They flow. They are often machined from thicker material giving an appearance many are drawn to. Buy whichever you wish.
You don't see stamped or sheet metal wheels on custom motorcycles. You see the stamped wheels on utility trailers. Probably 1/4" or 5/16" sheet steel - stamped and dished with a die set and then welded to a steel rim. Spray painted white. Custom billet wheels (as I alluded to before) start with a precision milled and turned "billet" of solid material. Any contour is "machined" in - not bent in. The final result - though it may appear to flow ... was sculpted from a solid mass. Some love it.
The terms are well known and understood. Easily recognizable to all. Why would someone who doesn't make billet parts go to the effort of discrediting such a universally understood industry label? Especially in such an "informational post" calling attention to an airgun maker who tried to impress people by claiming that his breeches were billet when they were nothing but bar stock.
The larger the piece of metal (billet), the more inconsistency there is in the crystal structure due to uneven cooling of the larger mass. So unless the part is heat treated after machining, it won't be consistent in its overall strength.
Using the smallest, most efficient piece of metal possible for the job would only make sense. Why take a whole redwood to make a toothpick? That kind of waste doesn't impress me much. It is a marketing ploy.
I'm sorry to allow my adolescent side come out and choose my words but my gawd, some of the most respected people in the industry goin on about this bull@#%@ like kids. Then there's people on the sideline eggin on. Wth.
There are people who will buy one or the other. There really is no need for this, there is a common bond between all of us here, and it is sickening to see an exchange that could have been taken privately between people who should be friends, or at the very least respected peers. I understand the educational aspect of all this, but now it's been taken to different level and seems it is meant to skew people's opinions of one person or another. Was that right? Was that called for?
You who set the standards in the industry in terms of quality and workmanship, you should be setting the example in conduct too. That's all. You are our spokespeople to the rest of the air arms ignorant public, because you are the most visible. you are who they will use as a benchmark and will prejudge the rest of us from how they perceive you. I know it's unfair, but it is human nature. It is a necessary and sometimes unwanted responsibility that you have ultimately taken on because of your expertise. You experts are part of the reason the rest of us strive for the perfection that you have already achieved. The reason that some of us would even want to get in this business (however hard it has been shown to be by overworked and underpaid tuners, garage publications, etc). Please respect each other, and the rest will be easy.
If I've stepped on toes, then I'm sorry. If I got the gist of this wrong, then too, I apologize, but I still think it needed to be said. I love this sport and all its aspects, but it's the immature child in all of us (funny how it's that same inner child that wanted your first BB gun) that's going to bring the lot of us down if we don't start acting like respectable MATURE individuals.
I've got nothing to defend, I just posted about terminology
August 24 2005, 5:49 PM
I don't see why this should be picking a fight. My case was rather cut & dry. I didn't go and start a new thread to stir things up. And my subsequent posts have been to reiterate the how the terminology is misused. Others are reading into this more than what actually happened.
Use the "Search" box, and type in "billet". It's kinda like "made from scratch". How about a "billet distributor", or a "billet grill"? How about a "billet alternator pulley"? 4,882 items for sale, all made from billet.
I can't believe a manufacturer can stay in business taking billets of aluminum and making radiator grills from them.
Neither of you guys have to prove you're right on this.
I normally don't get involved in squables, and did not realise thats what this thread was. I just thought someone wanted a discussion about machining terminology and thought I would share what very little I thought I knew. Oh well, I did learn some stuff, so it was not a complete waste, but I was in no way attempting to "egg" anyone on.
You're right, it was about metal working terminology
August 24 2005, 5:43 PM
and you brought your thoughts to the conversation. Whereas others, working on emotion, just have to respond negatively because I'm the one who originally posted about the misuse of the word billet. If others can't bring additional information to the discussion, then just leave it alone.
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