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Metal Spinning

Metal spinning is a cold metalworking process used to shape flat metal discs or tubes (known as blanks) into axially symmetrical parts. This process (which is alternatively called spinning, spin forming or spun metal manufacturing) employs either a hand-operated lathe or a CNC lathe to accomplish this. Read More…

Metal Spinning Metal spinning is a cold metalworking process used to shape flat metal discs or tubes (known as blanks) into axially symmetrical parts.
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Leading Manufacturers

Turtle Creek, PA  |  412-823-5003

Founded in 1929, E.H. Schwab manufacturers custom metal spinnings, draw-formed metal parts and metal fabrications from common ferrous and non-ferrous metals. In addition to CNC, semi-automatic and manual spinning capabilities, we offer a variety of complimentary capabilities including fiber laser cutting, CNC machining and milling, certified MIG and TIG welding and much more. Visit our website for more information.

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EH Schwab Company $$$

Chandler, AZ  |  480-813-6828

Since 1994 Southwest Metal Spinning, Inc. has been a manufacture of metal forming and fabricating services. We offer a wide range of products that are top quality, as well as creating custom parts. We have a wide variety of different metals from aluminum to cold rolled steel and very difficult stainless steel. With our staff having over 45+ years of experience in this industry, we are a leading manufacturer of metal spinning. Contact us today for a more complete list of our services that we offer and how our company can help you.

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Southwest Metal Spinning, Inc. $$$

Buffalo, NY  |  716-835-3631

We offer a variety of different products that will make your next project a breeze! Using both CNC and manual spinning lathes, Koch Metal Spinning provides metal spun parts for almost every industry, including industrial, automotive and electronics, with a commitment to both high-quality craftsmanship and innovative technological advancements. For more information on our aluminum spinning, give us a call today!

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Koch Metal Spinning $$$

Maplewood, NJ  |  973-761-4000

Our expert metal spinning and hydroforming craftsmen create complex precision parts in prototype and production amounts. C.B. Kaupp combines our hydroforming technique with metal spinning, deep drawing or virtually any other metal working process to meet your specs in basic to highly exotic metals. In business since 1924, our focus is on precision metal components & metal working.

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C.B. Kaupp & Sons, Inc. $$$

Paramount, CA  |  800-723-4891

Apollo Metal Spinning specializes in metal spinning and offers spun aluminum parts and stainless steel spinning services. We have our own in-plant tool and die shop so that all parts can meet our customer’s needs at a lower cost. All of our production tooling is designed and fabricated within our own facility. We provide quality metal spun products with on time delivery and innovative solutions.

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Apollo Metal Spinning Co., Inc. $$$
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The blank is attached to a lathe mandrel and rotated at high speeds, while a metal spinner applies pressure using one or multiple form tools to shape the metal. (This contrasts with conventional metal turning, which creates metal forms by removing material.) Metal spinning is a fast and inexpensive process that can usually be completely finished in five to ten minutes.

How It Works

Relatively speaking, the process of metal spinning is fairly straightforward. First, a formed block is mounted in the drive section of a lathe (which is simply a tool that rotates a workpiece on its axis). Lathes may operate horizontally or vertically, and they can be manually operated or controlled by CNC (computer numerical control). The block in the lathe — also known as a chuck or a mandrel — typically consists of hardened wood or metal (such as mild steel or aluminum). (Although using wood is cheaper, using metal for a mandrel is desirable if high tolerances are necessary.) Once the mandrel has been set in place, a pre-sized blank (typically in the form of a flat circle or disc) is clamped against it with a pressure pad. The pressure pad, in turn, is connected to the part of the lathe called the tailstock or foot stock (a type of horizontal bar that is used to lend support to the longitudinal rotary axis of the workpiece.) Once this entire assembly is in place, the process of metal spinning can begin.

Together, the mandrel and workpiece are rotated at high speeds as some type of forming tool presses against it, causing the workpiece to flow over the block and shape it via friction. The external form of the mandrel corresponds to the internal dimensions desired for the particular workpiece. The tools which shape the workpiece over the mandrel may be up to three feet long and are usually made from hardened steel or solid brass. (The former is best for use with aluminum, while the latter is best for use with mild steel or stainless steel). The most common types of spinning tools are known as spoons. Rotating tools, especially those used with CNC spinners, may also be coated with a thin film of ceramic, which protects and prolongs their life. If a lathe is CNC-operated, spinning tools will perform a specific sequence of operations on a workpiece that has been programmed beforehand.

Once a workpiece has been mostly shaped, it often undergoes trimming and/or finishing operations. (In this context, “trimming” refers to the smoothing out of any sharp edges.) Workpieces continue to be rotated during finishing operations (up to 1200 RPM) in order to require the minimal use of force. The “duck bill” is a special type of finishing tool containing both flat and rounded sides that is used to finish straight surfaces and curves (respectively). Various lubricants (e.g. wax, tallow, greases) are also used during finishing to improve surface appearance and to facilitate workpiece removal from the block.

Variations

While the basic metal spinning process is fundamentally the same, certain aspects of it can be varied in several ways. A couple of examples follow below.

• If a workpiece is complex, it may be formed on a multi-piece block so that it can be removed more easily. If the shape of a workpiece is highly complex, it may even be spun over an ice form (which will just melt away afterwards).

• Another variation of the metal spinning process involves the forming tools. In many commercial processes, spoons are replaced with rollers attached to the ends of levers. Rollers vary in thickness and diameter and can be used to form material down to the mandrel in both CNC and hand metal spinning operations.

There are a few variations on the entire metal spinning process itself, such as reducing or necking and hot spinning.

Reducing is a more involved process that allows for the inclusion of workpieces with reentrant geometries. If the form must be exact, the workpiece is spun on an eccentrically mounted mandrel. However, if the surface finish and form are not critical, the workpiece is instead spun without a mandrel, or “spun on air.” (Reducing is sometimes referred to as necking in.)

Hot spinning, as its name implies, incorporates high heat into the spinning process. In this case, the high heat, which is applied to the workpiece, is sourced from a torch. Parts made via hot spinning can be shaped or reduced down to smaller diameters with seamless shoulders using minimal force, because the heated metal distorts as it is shaped. Some blanks or workpieces are spun after being annealed (i.e. heated and then slowly cooled).

Another popular variation on metal spinning is flow forming. Flow forming is an advanced process allows for variation in product wall thickness using two main methods: shear spinning and tube spinning. Shear spinning produces contoured shapes or cones using rollers over flat blanks on rotating mandrels. Using the shear spinning method, no material is lost and the diameter of a blank does not change, but instead, thickness decreases variably, based on the angle of the mandrel. Tube forming produces cylinders and tubes by cold-working tubular preforms with rollers and a mandrel and using one of two techniques. Forward flow forming produces parts with one closed end. The bottom of the preform is positioned on top of the face of the mandrel, while it is moved in the same direction as the rollers. On the other hand, reverse flow forming produces parts with two open ends. The rollers push against a serrated ring placed at the end of the mandrel. This action compresses and extrudes the metal.

Advantages

Metal spinning possesses several advantages when contrasted with other metalworking methods (e.g. stamping, forging, casting, deep drawing, press forming, etc.)

Because metal spinners work by forming sheet material over an existing shape and not removing material, they produce very little metal waste. Furthermore, all finished parts — if formed correctly — have neither wrinkling nor warble.

Metal spinning is a relatively simple process, possessing only three main steps (forming, trimming, and finishing). Press forming, in contrast, requires eight main steps. Its simplicity allows it to be used for both prototyping and major production runs.

Metal spinning is highly cost-efficient due to comparatively low tooling costs, its focus on using a single piece of metal, the ease of making the process automated, etc.

Metal spinning is not without its disadvantages. Unlike deep drawing or pressing, it is not particularly versatile in terms of products created; only rounded or concentric metal parts can be created via metal spinning. Metal spinning can also be unforgiving in terms of perfect formation and/or tolerances. Unlike some other processes, it is simply not cost-effective to repair a cracked or dented workpiece that has been spun.

Applications

Metal spinners produce products that are used in a variety of industries, such as aerospace, appliances, architecture, defense contracting, food processing, healthcare, interior decorating, music, paper, pharmaceuticals, and more. Specific parts and products created by metal spinners include rocket nose cones, nozzles, pressure vessels and gas cylinders, filter housings, cartridges, specialty lighting, engine parts, freezers, mixing bowls, funnels, decorative household goods and urns, cookware, brass instrument bells, and public waste receptacles.

Some specific shapes commonly produced by metal spinning are conical (cone shaped), parabolic (bell shaped), toroidal (donut shaped), Venturi (hourglass shaped), etc. The rounded metal parts produced by metal spinning are equally valuable for both practical and aesthetic applications. A vase is a good example of a metal spun object that can serve both purposes.

Considerations

Clearly, metal spinning is a wonderful resource. However, those interested in utilizing metal spinning services must take several things into consideration in order to maximize the advantages of the process.

Potential metal spinning customers need to weigh whether metal spinning is the best metalworking method for their specific application in the first place. As has been alluded to previously, metal spinning carries disadvantages even though it is generally simple and cost-effective (e.g. metal spinning lends itself to undesirable metal thinning more so than other processes). Even though they may be more expensive, other metalworking processes may turn out to be a better option.

If metal spinning is still an ideal choice, the next determination should be whether to use a manual or CNC powered spinning process for a particular project. Automated spinning is preferable for a variety of reasons. A greater amount of precision for the final product, faster production runs/turnaround times, etc. There are circumstances, however, where manual spinning is still preferable (e.g. needing greater control over the stages of a project, prototyping, freeing up CNC equipment for more extensive production runs, etc.)

Weighing factors in choosing metal spinning options does not need to be made alone. The input of a trusted, quality metal spinning manufacturer is invaluable. Those interested in requesting a metal-spun part or parts must take care to check on several characteristics of a supplier’s output capabilities, including number and nature of locations (e.g. whether they offer in-house tooling), number and type of lathes, range of metals that are spun (some suppliers only offer parts made from a certain type of metal, like aluminum or stainless steel), range of other product variables (some suppliers only make products in certain sizes, diameters, and thicknesses), average turnaround times (2-3 weeks is reasonable), and optional “post process” services (e.g. welding, powder coating, washing, etc.) With the proper research and communication, metal spinning customers will be able to find the metal spinning service they need.

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