Exploring the Skills and Techniques of Heavy Metal Spinners





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Metal spinning refers to the metalworking process of forming axially symmetrical rounded shapes by spinning a sheet of metal around a mandrel. Metalworking creates everything from large structural components to intricate parts for various industries. However, metal spinners must possess several skills, including precision and attention to detail to create parts that meet strict safety and performance requirements needed for these industries. 

The Art of Metal Spinning

Metal spinning dates back to the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs but has progressively advanced over the years. A roller is placed against the surface of the workpiece, and a mandrel spins on its axis at high speed. The resulting lateral force deforms the workpiece, creating different shapes without stripping away materials from the metal sheet. 

Spin forming and steel turning production in creative style expression

Metal spinning can deform a wide range of metals, including some that other methods, such as metal stamping, cannot form. Below is an overview of commonly used materials in metal spinning:


Common products manufactured from metal spinning aluminum include funnels, kitchenware, furniture, components for electronic devices, cooking utensils, decorative parts, and drums.


Spun stainless steel is used to construct tanks, pressure vessels, and processing equipment. 


Common span brass parts include electronic appliances, musical instruments, pipes and fittings, furniture, and structural components. 


Common parts created through spinning the material include musical instruments, engine parts, trophies, structural components, and sculptures. 


This chromium, nickel, and molybdenum alloy is widely used in creating parts for power plants, oil and petroleum refineries, aerospace, and automotive industries. 

Essential skills of metal spinners

Essential skills required in metal spinning include:

Precision Craftsmanship and Attention to Detail

Precision craftsmanship involves doing skillful and detailed work with excellence. Metal spinning usually involves creating intricate components that require an artisan with an eye for detail. 

Ability to Work Within Tight Tolerances

Tolerances refer to the limits on the amount of something that can vary from its specification. Artisans must work within tight tolerances when required to produce parts that consistently fit together and create less room for error during assembly.  

Problem-Solving and Improvisation Skills

Different challenges can arise during a metal spinning process. With problem-solving and improvisation skills, the metal spinner can devise creative ways to perform the metal working process. 

Tools and Equipment Utilized in Heavy Metal Spinning

Tools and Equipment Utilized in Heavy Metal Spinning

Traditional Hand Tools and Specialized Machinery

Below are the components of traditional metal spinning tools and equipment:

  • Mandrel

This tool supports the workpiece and gives it the required shape or volume.

  • Roller

The roller is a rigid metal spinning tool that provides lateral force to where the material deformation takes place. 

  • Lathe Bed

This equipment supports the tailstock, headstocks, and other components of the metal spinning machine. 

  • Headstock

The headstock facilitates the transformation of the power needed to drive the spindles. 

  • Tailstock

The tailstock clamps the workpiece against the mandrel during the spinning process. 

  • Spindle

The shaft rotates the mandrel and the metal sheet during formation. 

  • Follower

The follower clamps the metal sheet in place and occupies an area corresponding to the area of the base of the finished part. 

Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Spin-Forming Technology

CNC spinning is an upgrade of the manual metal spinning process. It is a more automated process that controls metal spinning using a lathe. 

Once activated, the CNC lathe rotates and presses the metal sheet against the molds forcing the workpiece to take the shape of the molds. CNC metal spinning produces more accurate parts, minimizing the risk of defects. The high level of accuracy and repeatability improves the overall quality of the finished product. 

Techniques and Approaches in Heavy Metal Spinning

The Initial Shaping Process

The blank preparation process involves lubricating the workpiece with wax or grease to make it easier to remove. Lubrication also improves the surface finish of the workpiece. Once the workpiece is ready for spinning, the next step involves laying it down onto the mandrel and performing inside and outside moves. 

Refining the Shape

Spinning methods used include shear spinning and hot spinning. Shear spinning involves exerting a downward force on the metal sheet as it moves over the contour of the mandrel. 

If the material is too thick or has low ductility and malleability, it may undergo hot spinning, where a heating torch is directed toward the workpiece, increasing its temperature. If the required part has a complex geometry, the metalworking processes can incorporate other techniques such as necking, expanding, and metal forming. 

Finishing Touches

The metal spinning process typically produces sharp and ragged edges. Smoothing, leveling, and trimming are done to ensure uniformity and consistency in the final product. After trimming the edges, the beading process smoothens the edge to ensure it is rounded and safe.  


The Importance of Training and Experience among metal spinners

Worker using Metal Lathe

Apprenticeships and Learning from Master Metal Spinners

Training offers an opportunity for professional interaction with master metal spinners. You learn their success strategies, skills developed over time, and how they handle complex projects. Apprenticeships also offer hands-on metal spinning experience while learning and earning a wage. 

Continual Skill Development and Staying Updated with Industry Advancements

The metal spinning industry keeps changing. New technologies and techniques are emerging while customers are becoming more specific about their desired designs. Training and experience ensure you stay updated with recent advancements in the industry. You’ll also develop new skills to handle more complex design requirements. 

Case Studies and Success Stories of Metal Spinning

Metal spinning through skilled craftsmen has facilitated the production of complex and intricate parts for various industries. The Selfridges clothing store in Birmingham, United Kingdom, is an example of a successful metal spinning project in the architecture and building industry. The iconic structure uses more than 15,000 stainless steel discs created by skilled metal spinners. 

Work with Expert Metal Spinners

Metal spinners are the drivers of the heavy metal spinning process. Their skills and expertise set apart good products from great products. Craftsmen should be innovative, great problem solvers, have an eye for detail, and have the ability to work within tight tolerances. 

At Glenn Metalcraft, we are industry leaders in close tolerance, heavy-gauge, and high-quality metal spinning. With the help of our team of metal spinning experts, we can recommend specific materials for new parts and components, offer engineering design reviews, and cost-cutting ideas for manufacture. Contact Glenn Metalcraft for a free estimate and learn how we can be your manufacturing partner.

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