Metal Spinning 101: A Complete Guide

In this complete guide to metal spinning, we will cover everything you need to know. From understanding what metal spinning is and how it works, the tools and equipment used in the process, types of metal spinning, the most common metals used, and the most popular applications.

What is Metal Spinning

Metal spinning, also known as spin forming, is a metalworking process that involves the transformation of a flat circular blank or disc-shaped workpiece into axially symmetrical round shapes.

This process typically utilizes a lathe machine with a spinning tool that applies pressure to the workpiece, causing it to flow and take on the desired shape.
It is commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, and lighting to produce items like lampshades, reflectors, and even rocket nose cones.

It offers advantages such as cost-effectiveness, quick turnaround times, and the ability to create complex shapes without the need for additional tooling.

Metal Spinning Equipment

A metal spinning operation requires the use of a metal lathe and a roller, which work together to shape the metal into the desired form.

The lathe is a powerful machinery that spins the workpiece at high speeds around an axis, allowing for precise and controlled shaping. It’s a versatile piece of equipment that can also be used for various other metalworking operations such as cutting, drilling, and sanding.

Metal Lathe Components

The following lathe components work in harmony to ensure accurate and efficient metal spinning operations:


The heart of a metal spinning machine is the headstock, which houses the spindle, motor, and drive mechanisms. It ensures support, control, and consistent performance for spinning operations. Modern headstocks offer numerical control and automation features, contributing to the reliability and enhanced capabilities of the process.


The spindle, a critical component in metal spinning, holds and rotates the workpiece. It features precision bearings and drive systems, directly impacting the process’s efficiency. CNC machines utilize spindles with programmable speed and torque control, enhancing performance.


The mandrel plays a crucial role in the metal forming process, providing volume and shape to the metal disc. This forming die is designed with the interior shape of the finished part, ensuring that the workpiece is deformed evenly without any wrinkling or warble.

As the workpiece is rapidly spun on the mandrel, it receives support and stability throughout the forming process. Prior to being placed on the mandrel, a metalworking lubricant is applied, which not only facilitates easy removal but also enhances the surface finish of the final product. The combination of precise shaping and lubrication ensures high-quality results in metal forming operations.


The roller is a crucial component in metal spinning machines, playing a key role in shaping the workpiece. As a rigid tool, it applies localized force known as the partial work zone, where plastic deformation occurs. This force prompts the workpiece to flow over the mandrel, transforming it into the desired shape.

To minimize friction and prevent heat buildup and premature wear, the roller tool incorporates a ball roller that spins throughout the process.

Controlling the roller can be done manually by an operator, but this requires a high level of skill and extensive training to produce flawless parts. CNC machining has gained popularity because of its ability to reduce hazards associated with manual production methods.


The tailstock is a crucial component in the process of metal spinning, as it plays a pivotal role in maintaining workpiece stability and concentricity. This adjustable part is designed to accommodate different workpiece lengths, ensuring accuracy and precision throughout the spinning operation.

CNC machines have changed the craft with their precise tailstocks, providing consistent and reliable spinning operations. With their ability to provide steady support and alignment, tailstocks are essential for achieving optimal results.

Whether in traditional or CNC-based metal spinning, the tailstock remains an indispensable tool for achieving exceptional craftsmanship and superior finished products.


A follower serves as a pressure pad attached to the end of the tailstock spindle, ensuring that the workpiece remains securely clamped in place. The shape and size of the follower are crucial, as it needs to correspond to the area of the base of the finished part.

By exerting even pressure on the workpiece, the follower helps maintain stability and prevents any unwanted movement during spinning. This allows for precise shaping and forming of metal into various intricate designs and functional components.

Lathe Bed

The lathe bed is the backbone of spinning processes, providing essential support for the headstock, tailstock, and carriage. It plays a vital role in ensuring precision and stability during metal shaping.

The rigidity and dimensional accuracy of the lathe bed are crucial for achieving high-quality results. Its sturdy construction and precise alignment allow for smooth and consistent movement of the workpiece, minimizing errors and ensuring optimal performance.

Without a reliable lathe bed, the entire spinning process would be compromised, making it an indispensable foundation for any metal spinning operation.

Metal Spinning Types

Conventional metal spinning involves shaping sheet metal over a mandrel. Shear spinning utilizes axial strokes, offering dimensional accuracy and high tensile strength. The sine law determines wall thickness, diameter, and tailstock roller position for precision forming. Hot spinning uses heat to shape metals quickly, while tube spinning forms a metal tube into the final shape, commonly used in manufacturing tank heads.

Let’s take a closer look at each type of operation:

Conventional Spinning

Conventional metal spinning involves the manual or CNC shaping of metal parts by craftsmen or machinery. It produces shapes like cones, domes, flanges, and hemispheres with careful control of parameters such as speed, thickness, and diameter. Unique techniques and expertise are found in Europe, China, and North America.

Shear Spinning

Shear spinning, also referred to as shear forming, delivers exceptional precision and dimensional accuracy when shaping metal components. This process is ideal for soft metals, expensive materials, and intricate shapes with grain structures. Additionally, single pass shear spinning reduces project cycle time, providing a cost-effective solution.

The Sine Law

Mathematical calculations for precise wall thickness and diameter adjustments are provided by the sine law in metal spinning. CNC lathe machines ensure accuracy, while tailstock rollers and followers govern metal shape consistency. The use of the sine law dates back to the Middle Ages, marking a significant advancement in metal spinning.

Hot Spinning

Shaping metal parts with steam power, heat, and high-speed spinning, hot spinning yields precise dimensions, grain structures, and enhanced mechanical properties. Commonly used for copper, brass, and other metals, it enables rapid formation of complex shapes with a high level of precision.

Tube Spinning

Shaping metal tubes into complex forms for pressure vessels and tank heads, tube spinning ensures precision with a wide range of metals. The process demands precise control over thickness, diameter, and tailstock roller position, automatable through CNC technology for consistent results.


Adjusting parameters like speed, thickness, and diameter is essential for precise metal shaping. Tailstock roller, follower, and workpiece adjustments are made to ensure consistency. CNC metal spinning automates adjustments, enhancing efficiency and accuracy. Precision metal spinning involves machinery and process adjustments for optimal results.

Most Common Metals Used

Aluminum, a lightweight metal, is commonly utilized in metal spinning for parts with a high strength-to-weight ratio. Steel, valued for its durability and strength, is widely employed for various industrial applications.


Aluminum, a widely used NLP term in metal spinning, offers versatility and malleability. It is one of the most common types materials due to its lightweight nature and corrosion resistance.


Steel in metal spinning offers exceptional strength and durability, making it ideal for industrial applications. It is one of the most common types of materials, alongside aluminum and stainless steel.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel’s corrosion resistance makes it ideal for metal spinning, especially in aerospace and automotive industries. It offers durability and a polished finish, and the spinning process involves high-speed spinning and precision forming, producing complex shapes with precise dimensions.

Carbon Steel

Known for its high tensile strength and toughness, carbon steel spinning involves forming it into domes, flanges, and cones. This process is widely used in manufacturing tank heads and fittings, offering dimensional accuracy and maintaining mechanical properties. With metal spinning, carbon steel can be formed into various shapes and thicknesses.


Brass spinning, popular for decorative and functional metal parts, allows production of complex shapes and fittings. Commonly used in architecture and art, brass spinning offers excellent dimensional accuracy and smooth surface finish through precise axial strokes and forming parameters.


Bronze spinning’s corrosion and wear resistance make it a popular choice. This process forms hemispheres and cones with precision, ideal for ornamental pieces. Complex shapes with high accuracy and unique grain structures are achieved in bronze spinning, showcasing its mechanical properties.


Known for its high-temperature and oxidation resistance, Hastelloy spinning demands precision in forming complex shapes. Widely used in aerospace and chemical industries, it ensures excellent dimensional accuracy and consistent wall thickness while maintaining mechanical properties and high strength.


Titanium spinning is known for its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion. It is widely used in aerospace, medical, and marine applications. The process involves precision forming of cones and domes, requiring expertise due to the use of expensive materials.

Most Popular Applications

Metal spinning finds extensive use in creating precision hemispheres and cones, along with applications like Venturi in aerospace and automotive industries. This process enables the precise forming of complex shapes and dimensions, making it valuable for producing specialized parts across various sectors.


Formed with high precision and manual spinning, metal spinning hemispheres offer consistent wall thickness and complex shapes. The process involves CNC metal spinning, creating parts for various industrial applications, utilizing expertise in high-precision fabrication.


Precision forming and high-speed spinning processes shape metal spinning cones, offering dimensional accuracy. These cones exhibit high tensile strength and complex shapes, essential for industrial applications, requiring expertise in forming various thicknesses and dimensions.


Precision forming is crucial in Venturi, a metal spinning application presenting high dimensional accuracy. Expertise is required for complex shapes, widely used in aerospace and industrial flow control systems. The process demands skilled precision and forming parameters, making it essential in various applications.


The metal spinning process enables precise creation of parabolic shapes, commonly used in aerospace and manufacturing due to their strength and durability. This process ensures dimensional accuracy, and CNC technology efficiently produces parabolic metal parts.


Ideal for creating cylindrical shapes with high precision, metal spinning offers outstanding tensile strength in the resulting parts. It allows for varying wall thicknesses and seamless production of complex shapes using CNC technology. The cylinders produced exhibit superior mechanical properties.

Hopper Lids and Bases

Efficiently producing industrial hopper lids and bases, metal spinning ensures precise dimensional specifications and exceptional strength. CNC technology enables cost-effective production in various materials.

Tank Heads

Tank heads, widely manufactured through metal spinning, offer high dimensional accuracy and excellent tensile strength. CNC technology allows for the production of complex tank head designs, catering to diverse industrial requirements. This process ensures structural integrity and versatility in tank head creation.

The Future of Metal Spinning

Continuing to be pivotal in modern manufacturing across diverse industries, the metal spinning process undergoes constant development, emphasizing precision, automation, and adaptability. As technology evolves, so does metal spinning, promising further advancements in precision, efficiency, and material versatility.