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7 Design Guidelines for Metal Spinning

Metal spinning is a versatile and powerful technique for manufacturers and engineers. Many metallurgists only think of its usefulness for making small batches of artisanal goods.

Spinning metal is good for much more than making bowls and jewelry. It’s history even dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt. It’s being used to manufacture lightweight parts for NASA, as well.

To help you make the most of your metal spinning processes, we’ve compiled some general design guidelines for your project.

Tips For Metal Spinning Design

Before we delve into some good rules-of-thumb for industrial design, let’s get a greater understanding of what metal spinning is and some of the potential benefits.

What Is Metal Spinning?

Spinning metal is similar to the process by which clay pots are made. Pieces of flat circular metal are placed into a hand or CNC lathe. It’s generally used for forming metal disks which can be configured into a variety of products.

Common Items Made by Spinning Metal Include:

  • Stainless steel bowls
  • Satellite dishes
  • Brass instruments
  • Gas cylinders

In the lathe, the metal is shaped with a complex series of rollers and other tools. These manipulate the metal over “chucks,” which are also known as mandrels. Mandrels can be made of metal or hardwood.

Types Of Metal Typically Used For Spinning Metal:

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Carbon steel
  • Brass
  • Hastelloy
  • Titanium
  • Inconel

Both hot and cold forming techniques are used in spinning metal. When cold forming is not optional, engineers use direct heat from a torch to shape and sculpt different parts of an object.

Now that we understand how metal is spun, let’s take a look at some of its benefits.

The Advantages Of Spun Metal

Metal-spun objects require less work hardening as a result of the ridges produced during the spinning process. Metal-spun objects come off the lathe tough and resilient.

Objects created by spinning metal are getting even tougher as technology improves. Objects can be over an inch thick. It wastes a lot less material than comparable techniques.

Spinning metal is a great choice for manufacturing smaller parts out of metal. Seals and bearing rings can be made out of sheet metal instead of carved out of a solid block of steel.

Spinning metal is the best option for producing small batches of metal objects. This setup can be used for a variety of manufacturing needs.

Some other benefits of spinning metal include:

  • Machining seamless metal objects
  • Produces reliable parts for structural needs
  • Resistant to warping
  • Shortens lead times
  • Improves tensile strength

In certain circumstances, spinning metal setups can be used for tooling other materials as well.

Now that we’ve covered what metal spinning is and why you should consider it, let’s take a look at some specific design tips for fabrication.

7 Tips For Metal Spinning Design

Spinning metal can be used for style as well as substance. It can create beautiful artistic custom designs. It can also create rugged functional tools.

These 7 tips will help you to make the most of metal spinning, no matter what you’re using it for.

Tip #1: Define Your Object’s Function

You can’t know how to design effectively if you don’t know what you’re designing. Knowing your final goal will inform every stage of your design process.

Spinning metal is based on circles and semicircles, however. If you plan on taking advantage of metal spinning’s precision and customizability, make sure whatever you’re designing can be achieved using circular shapes.

Tip #2: Pick Your Material

Designs for spun metal can range from a millimeter to an inch thick. Knowing what materials you’ll be working with will have a great impact on the material you’ll use to realize your end goal.

The slightest reduction in thickness and diameter can have sizable implications on the cost of your engineering project. Picking the right material ahead of time will help you make the most of the process while keeping cost and \waste down.

Materials tend to thin out and get more rigid once they’re spun. Keep that in mind when preparing for your design project.

Tip #3: Define Your Diameter

Metal-spun objects are often rolled into a tube shape. These can come in a variety of thicknesses.

A large corner radius things out the material less than tight corners. It’s also cheaper to produce and is stronger than tight corner radii.

Tip #4: Consider Your Dimensions

Now that you have a more specific vision of what you’ll be using your spun metal objects for, you should have a clearer notion of where exactly it’ll go. This will give you an idea of the specific dimensions you’ll need.

Shaving off even a fraction of an inch can save a significant amount of money on your project. It’ll let you focus on growing your business rather than leaving your profits on the shop room floor.

Tip #5: Specify Your Tolerances

Your metal-spun object doesn’t necessarily need to be a uniform thickness throughout. Make sure to specify if your machine-tooled part needs to be a consistent thickness.

Specifying your tolerances will let engineers know where to focus their stress points. Make sure to do a cost/benefit analysis to ensure you’ll get your money’s worth from the tolerance specifications.

Tip #6: Perform Cost Analysis

Spinning metal objects is one of the most cost-effective ways to get small runs of high-quality machined goods. It’s almost always the best bet for manufacturing prototypes and custom projects.

Spinning metal actually makes your material stronger than it is initially. This is achieved by re-aligning the grain of the metal. It’s possible to use cheaper metals that are slightly less robust than steel to save a bit of money. Factor that into your cost analysis.

Tip #7: Get A Design Consultation

Consulting an engineer early on in your design project can greatly streamline your project. They’ll have in-depth knowledge of the different materials that you’ll be using. They’ll be able to help you figure out the best size and radius for your metal-spun objects.

Spinning metal is a powerful and robust process that actually makes your metal stronger. You can use it to make fine art or just to save some money when you don’t need a full production run.

Ready To Find Out How Metal Spinning Can Help Your Business?

With nearly 70 years of experience, we know spinning metal. Read our brochure today and find out how we can help spin your vision into metallic reality.