Need a float? We have you covered.

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Thu, Jun 05, 2014



Float Ball 316 SS 14" Diameter

Did you know that Helander Company can fabricate the metal float for your application?

We employ a combination of superior hydroforming, metal spinning, welding, and machining processes to fabricate floats in a variety of materials for a myriad of different industries.

These floats are  primarily used in level and flow measurement instrumentation, allowing for accurate reading while emptying or filling a tank, vessel, or well; or for monitoring liquid flow through a heating, air conditioning, or processing installation. We've even worked on floats that are responsible for managing the liquid levels in the tank of  hydro excavation trucks!

Hydroforming and metal spinning are ideal for these applications because they:

  • Allow for a completely customizable shape and size
  • Can work with a variety of metals including titanium, copper, and stainless steel
  • Have relatively low setup and tooling costs

Want to learn more about our float capabilities? Contact us today.

Tags: hydroforming, manufacturing, stainless steel, metal float

Minimizing Secondary Finishing Operations With Hydroforming

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Mon, Mar 31, 2014

hydroform13 large resized 600When considering the numerous options available for working with metal, many companies choose the beneficial and cost effective process hydroforming.  Originally developed around 1950, hydroforming is ideal for shaping many types of ductile metals, including brass, aluminum, stainless and low alloy steels.  It holds a number of benefits when compared to similar work processes, especially when considering cost, precision, and efficient operation.  One area where hydroforming especially excels is its role in minimizing secondary finishing operations.

A Range of Benefits

Hydroforming is a technique that employs high pressure hydraulic fluid to press materials into a die at room temperature.  It was originally developed as an alternative to stamping for small quantities of parts.  Since then, hydroforming has become a major industrial practice.  The process offers numerous benefits over other similar machining methods.


  • Lower Costs.  A number of factors contribute to the cost reduction provided by hydroforming, including the area of tooling.  Processes such as stamping require a great deal of tooling.  A male die and a blank holding ring are essentially the only tools that are needed in hydroforming, since a pressurized forming chamber acts as the female die.  This results in an average 50% savings when compared to processes like deep draw stamping.  Hydroforming also features lower cost materials and reduced set up times, with easily mounted and aligned hydroforming tools.  It provides significant savings in product development.  Different material types and wall thickness specifications can be accommodated while manufacturing prototypes using hydroforming techniques.


  • High Quality Parts.  The hydroforming process is capable of creating high quality, precision components and parts.  Extremely tight tolerances are possible, including aircraft tolerances that are commonly ±0.03”.  The sheet hydroforming process is also capable of producing highly complex shapes in a single operation.  There is nearly no limit to the geometries that can be produced using this method, and the components produced are of consistently high quality.  Hydroforming creates quality results while accommodating materials of all different types.  In addition to commonly used ductile metals, hydroforming techniques can effectively shape copper and precious metals like gold.  Finally, hydroforming creates materials with reduced work hardening, maintaining material tensile strength for long periods of time.


  • High Efficiency.  Setup and handling processes are faster and easier with hydroforming.  Because of the simplified configuration of the process, tool change times are far faster than other traditional metal forming processes, often reducing change times by up to 70%.  Lead times for tooling are also reduced due to simpler tooling; the multiple processes required by traditional tooling are consolidated to one machine.  Parts and components that require many different operations can often be fabricated in just one cycle using hydroforming.  This process is simple to run and requires a low amount of skilled labor, saving high labor expenses.  Accurate results can be achieved with very low excess scrap, with the additional machining required to finish components often eliminated entirely.


Secondary Finishing Minimized or Eliminated

A great deal of time and expense can be devoted to secondary finishing operations.  Traditional machining methods are apt to leave marks from matched dies and other sources.  The additional labor costs can also be significant.  Hydroforming creates strong, attractive, and high quality shapes that require minimal secondary finishing.

Stamping, a metalworking process using a press to shape sheets of metal, tends to leave scratches on the part.  These scratches and other surface imperfections require polishing or surface refinement to repair.  Hydroforming eliminates the need for these by producing smooth parts the first time around.  Processes such as matched die forming also leave many residual marks on the shaped part.  Shock lines, draw marks, wrinkling, and tearing may occur.  Hydroforming is unique in shaping metals without these types of scuff marks.

How does hydroforming avoid the marring on finished products that occurs with so many other traditional machining processes?  The answer is in hydraulic fluids that shape the metal and the soft, flexible diaphragm.  Most hydroforming processes use a rubber diaphragm that acts as the common female die.  The outside surfaces of the hydroformed parts do not experience metal to metal contact.  This helps to virtually eliminate the scratching and scuffing that occur with conventional tools

Secondary operations to correct the flaws listed above can include a wide variety of machining processes.  In addition to polishing and buffing, CNC and laser machining may be needed.  Hydroforming prevents the need for these while maintaining dimensional consistency.  With options that include the use of vinyl clad material to protect polished sheet stock from being marred, the cost savings that hydroforming provides can be enormous.

A Wide Variety of Industries

The smooth surface finishes produced by hydroforming are required in a number of different areas.  Hydroforming is extensively used in the automotive sector and in the oil & gas industries.  High tolerance applications such as aerospace and medical products also count on the smooth and accurate work that this process produces. It is used in military, commercial, and alternative energy applications as well.  Commercial cookware utilizes hydroformed parts for their outstanding surface finishes, and the list goes on.  High quality and cost effective, hydroforming continues to be a method of choice for metalworking.  It not only eliminates the need for most secondary processing, but provides precise and efficient metal shaping.  It is widely known its pleasing aesthetic qualities, and also for highly accurate finishes for industries where accuracy is of the utmost importance.       


Tags: metal forming, hydroforming, Metal Stamping, manufacturing

Hand Spinning vs. CNC Spinning: Two Sides of the Coin

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Fri, Mar 14, 2014

describe the imageMetal Spinning (or spin forming) is a process where a tube or a disc of metal is rotated at high speed and transformed into an axially symmetrical object. Metal spinning is usually performed on a vertical or horizontal lathe using CNC controls or hand processing. So, by its very nature, metal spinning is an example of a technology that has spanned a timeframe stretching from the days of hand-tooled craftwork to the modern computer era. How do the two techniques compare, and how do they complement one another? Good questions. Let’s take a look.

During hand spinning, the operator controls both the spinning speed and forming forces. Hand spinning is a craft where the operator subtly works with the material to create a form. This is done through precise motions rather than brute force. A form is created by an operator who can feel the structure of the metal, its grain, its hardness, and its willingness to move in one direction or another. With one hand, the operator uses the spoon to shape the work piece over the block, while the other hand applies the necessary lubricants or additional pressure to assist the process. There are an infinite number of tool designs that can be forged in steel to assist in spinning a variety of shapes.

The products created by hand spinning cover a wide range: prototypes of beverage cans, mechanical parts for satellites and aircraft, components for semiconductor manufacturing equipment, large parabolic antennas, and so on—many products of all different sizes. The use of hand spinning has many manufacturing and economic benefits.

There are several advantages of automatic spinning, as well. For example, it removes the many uncertainties of operator skill and operator-to-operator variations, making spinning highly repeatable and accurate. After a CNC machine has been programmed (or ‘trained’), it can automatically execute the instructions, hydraulically applying predetermined forces for predetermined lengths of time on precise areas of the blank, creating fairly identical parts. Such machines can automatically shape the part, trim or otherwise finish the edges, and eject the finished part. These programs can also be transferred from machine tool to machine tool, stored for future processing, and easily updated and refined for future runs. The use of highly skilled metal spinners is no longer necessary to run these machine tools. However, an operator must still be knowledgeable about the intricacies of metal spinning, as well as the control software required to run the part.

An ideal machine shop has both – hand spinning as well as CNC spinning capabilities. Manufacturers choosing to work in metal spinning can tap into the high production capabilities of an automated shop floor, but they may also require manual spinning to create more intricate architectural and decorative products. Combining both of these techniques allows for the mass production of the bulk of a product line through CNC automation, while finishing it up with hand spinning, to create a product that is hand-crafted.  Additionally, shorter run productions may be more cost-effective when completed with hand spinning, removing the time it takes to set up and program a CNC machine.

For more, check out our new, free, e-book "Hand Spinning and CNC Spinning."


Learn More About Hand Spinning and CNC Spinning

Tags: metal fabricating, Metal Spinning, Custom Metal Spinning, manufacturing, Hand Spinning, CNC Spinning

The Advantages of Metal Spinning

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Tue, Sep 10, 2013


  Custom Pressure Vessel Shells   Helander Metal Spinning  Lombard, IL
  5.60” diameter X 12” to 32” long X 0.250” thickness X 6061-0 aluminum vessel.

Metal spinning is a unique process that can be used to form complex shapes from aluminum steel, stainless steel, high-strength and high-temperature alloys, and many other metals. Metal spinning is a metalworking process by which a disc or tube of metal is rotated at high speed and formed into an axially symmetric part and is normally performed by hand or with CNC technology. Spinning metal is an inexpensive alternative to the stamping process, with a quicker processing time. Production prototypes can not only be designed on the fly but most changes to a design can be accomplished without added expense to the customer.

Because spun parts have no seams, they can withstand higher internal or external pressures. This is due to grain structure of the metal spun part, which is realigned, improving the metallurgy, as well as improving the tensile strength of the material. This also allows for a lighter gauge material to be used, saving on material cost. Some examples are scuba tanks, CO2 cartridges, and oxyacetylene tanks. Other products that can be produced by metal spinning range from small hardware items made in large quantities, such as metal tumblers and automotive components, to large components for aerospace applications. Metal spinning can be used to cost-effectively produce single or a small number of parts out of expensive materials, such as platinum, or large quantities of components of low-cost materials, such as aluminum. Cost savings are further enhanced from the inherent smooth finish that spinning produces, often eliminating the need for additional machining. Other advantages are very low tooling compared to stamping, as well as very short setup and changeover times. The process is also eco-friendly with less waste being produced.

Metal spinning provides an economical solution for products that require structural integrity. A wide range of shapes can be produced with relatively simple tooling. Here’s a video demonstrating the process at work.



Carried out by the application of an even, force applied to metal uniformly by rotating the metal at very high rpm’s.  Metal is deformed evenly in the metal spinning process without any wrinkling or warping.

Equipment Used

Can be performed by hand or by a CNC lathe.

Material Used

Virtually any ductile metal may be formed; ranging  from aluminum or stainless steel to high-strength, high-temperature alloys.


Diameter and depth of formed parts are limited only by the size of the equipment available.


  • Several operations can be performed in one set-up
  • Changes in part design can often be made through changes in tooling, particularly if the change is a reduction in size
  • Smaller amount of waste products produced
  • Produces products without seams (part can withstand higher internal or external pressure exerted on it)
  • Assures a higher degree of reliability on parts that have a structural function
  • Avoids warping
  • Lead times are usually shorter compared to other tooling methods
  • Low-cost tooling
  • Depending on volume, tolerance, and capability of the part, tooling material options include tool steel, engineered plastics, and wood
  • Improves the metallurgy by realigning the grain structure of the metal.  Tensile strength is improved, allowing lighter gauge material to be used in the same application.

Industry for Use

All industry


Typical production runs of 1,000 pieces or less
For prototype and limited production quantities
Typical volume range  50,000 units per year

Standards Met

Customer specifications



“Spinning,” Author(s): B.P. Bewlay, General Electric Global Research, D.U. Furrer, Ladish Company

 Think metal spinning is the right solution for your business?

Request a Design Consultation

Tags: metal fabricating, metal forming, Metal Spinning, Metal Spinning, manufacturing, manufacturing, welding, stainless steel, aluminum

Why Hydroforming? We’ve Got Your Answers.

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Mon, Apr 23, 2012

Lots of different types of machining methods are familiar to manufacturers. Even if you don’t deal with all of them or maintain a factory full of every machine that’s out there, you can probably rattle off quite a few different types: CNC machines, EDM, waterjet cutting, and so on. Of course, for us at Helander, one type invariably comes to mind first: metal hydroforming.

In late 2011, the Association for Manufacturing Technology released this summary of the manufacturing outlook for 2012. With Q1 (and fiscal Q2) drawing to a close for many companies, we’re revisiting their assessments and sharing some benefits of hydroforming with you, our readers. One of the major factors behind the growth of hydroforming? As older machinery breaks down to the point of replacement rather than repair, shops are looking into new technologies to increase efficiency and expand their customer base. Of course, at Helander Spinning, we’ve been hydroforming for over 35 years, so you can be assured that we’re not a new kid on the block. We combine the benefits of experience with the assets offered by the process.

As the article mentions, some of those assets include distortion- and deformation-free manufacturing thanks to the precision inherent in the technology. Other benefits include greater complexity in forming drawn shapes than traditional stamping, as well as decreased tooling costs. For answers to any questions you may have, please contact Helander today!

                                Contact Us

Tags: Metal Spinning, hydroforming, manufacturing

As Manufacturing Expands, So Does Helander

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

Helander Blog5With so much talk of U.S. manufacturing in the news lately, it’s difficult to understand how some pundits can continue to roll their eyes at the return of factories an industry to a key role, if not a backbone position, in our economy. As this Tulsa World article discusses, the purpose of committing to strengthening and supporting U.S. manufacturing isn’t to instantly transform manufacturing from an afterthought back to the behemoth that it once was. Rather, politicians and corporations are taking notice of the fact that though overlooked, in many ways, U.S. manufacturing never truly went away. More difficult to overlook? The fact that in the face of still-discouraging overall unemployment, manufacturing has led the way as a source for jobs and a way to spur vocational training. In fact, in January 2012, manufacturing accounted for a full 20% of all new jobs created.

We at Helander Spinning have been watching –and participating in – these developments with great interest. In fact, we’re riding that wave of expansion by opening up a new CNC machinist and maintenance technician position, which we’re still looking to fill. As specialists in hydroforming, we offer a great way to get involved in one of the most exciting machining technologies, working on components for projects like the Boeing Dreamliner.  As U.S. manufacturing continues to expand, Helander is following suit. Want to get involved or learn more? Contact us at or 630.268.9292. 

                                   Contact Us

Tags: Metal Spinning, manufacturing, boeing

Helander’s Fabtech Canada 2012 Preview

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Fri, Mar 09, 2012

One Fabtech show in a year is quite an event. But all the metalworking expo action isn’t in Chicago. This year’s Fabtech Canada 2012 expo, happening in Toronto from March 20 – 22nd, 2012, promises to be just as exciting and informative as its stateside counterpart. We found the January show to be overwhelmingly helpful, and won’t be attending Fabtech Canada this year. We will, however, point you in the direction of some of the most promising panels and events at the conference.

Don’t Miss: The Keynote Speaker, race car driver and TV star Andrew Comrie-Picard. Andrew will be discussing his varied career – from attorney to racer to TV-host-of-all-trades – and talking about thinking outside the box in manufacturing, from materials to processes. One way to do that? Look into hydroforming instead of other processes.

Get Involved: Wednesday’s Toen Hall discussion will allow you to pose some questions or share some answers, recognizing that the expertise at Fabtech Canada is among all attendees, not just speakers.

Look Ahead: Thursday’s presentations will focus on the future of welding and manufacturing as a whole, including a talk on using technology to close the machining skills gap. In the pursuit of young, talented engineers and machinists to fill and ever-growing number of positions, there are a number of ways to find them. One of them? Social media, meeting them on their level. This is just one of the many reasons Helander has initiated our extensive social media outreach.

We hope to hear from any and all Fabtech Canada 2012 attendees! Share your stories or advice here.       

                                          Read Our Blog

Tags: manufacturing, Fabtech, welding