While metal spinning can be performed by hand, using metal spinning machinery such as a lathe to achieve metal spinning results is a fairly common method used in both industrial and personal machine shops. Metal spinning employs a rotating metal disc to shape a workpiece by causing the metal to “flow” into a predetermined shape. This process is frequently used to create rounded metal parts and products, ranging from aerospace components to decorative household goods.
Its reliance on rotational metal forming makes metal spinning somewhat similar in principle to lathe metalworking. However, unlike lathe machining, metal spinning relies on a mandrel that complements the interior curvature of the workpiece, rather than a clamping device necessary for holding the metal blank in place. Despite these differences, many lathes can be fitted to perform metal spinning operations. It is important to note that the lathe manufacturer should be consulted before changing the machine’s settings, and that an accredited training program can develop one’s lathe operating and metal spinning skills to ensure safe and effective production.
Metal Spinning Operations
In its fundamental processes, metal spinning centers around a metal workpiece, or blank, held between a rotating mandrel and a spindle tool. As a mechanism rotates these components, spinning rollers are pressed against the workpiece using manual or automated control. The workpiece is then positioned against the mandrel, which shapes the metal into an intended design through a sequence of axial strokes delivered via rotation. This process may change the material thickness of the workpiece, and due to its unique methods, it may appear that the metal is “flowing” into shape as if it were malleable and soft.
Metal spinning typically results in parts that are symmetrical and have a circular cross-section, although these parts are often cut and reassembled into new products. The final component usually has a diameter smaller than that of the blank workpiece, but with a similar surface area. Although it was once limited to softer metals and short production runs, as in prototyping, current metal spinning methods can fabricate highly durable materials in high volumes. Likewise, size restrictions have become less of a concern. Metal spinning processes can now create components of several dozen feet in length and up to three inches thick, depending on the metal.
Read more: Metal Spinning on a Lathe