Simplify the R&D Process with Metal Forming

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Fri, Jan 16, 2015


In the metalworking industry, research and development (R&D) is vital for a successful manufacturing project.

After the initial product design, prototyping is the ideal next step in process; though producing a one-off part or component may seem like a simple task, this step is not without its issues. Prototyping can often consume time, leading to production delays, and tooling can cut into your company’s budget.

Metal-FormingOn the other hand, prototyping can be very beneficial to your efforts—depending on the chosen manufacturing process. Making this choice doesn’t need to be a daunting process; Helander is here to help you understand the options available in prototype production, and to support your productivity goals.

As a leading company in metal forming and manufacturing, Helander has created a resource that elaborates on prototyping processes that are both time and cost efficient. The Metal Forming for your R&D Process eBook is a free guide to creating prototypes that best suit your needs.

Prototyping may seem like a luxury, but as we explain in this eBook, there are many accessible options available for several companies. Two production methods stand out due to their low cost and short run options:

  • Metal Spinning: A simple process that forms metal into seamless, axially symmetric parts. Low tooling costs promote savings when creating one-off parts and limited production runs.
  • Hydroforming: Flexible, highly accurate, and cost-effective process for producing components of varying shapes from ductile materials. This is used to form complex sample parts which are ideal for research purposes.

These methods are ideal for diverse products, and they are invaluable for creating prototypes to test in real-world situations. Metal Forming for your R&D Process greatly details these processes, and will provide you with a greater understanding of their significance.

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Tags: metal forming, prototyping

Metal Spun Spheres are Versatile and Cost-Effective

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Mon, Dec 08, 2014

At Helander, we have provided clients with custom forming and fabrication services for the last 80 years. Our extensive experience has enabled us to specialize in several areas, but one of our core competencies is metal spinning.

Metal spinning is an ideal process for manufacturing high-quality round parts of different sizes and shapes—such as hemispheres and spheres. Our spherical metal parts are created simply and easily by joining two spun hemispheres; the resulting hollow spheres are imbued with the resiliency needed for the most demanding commercial and industrial applications.   

Our Beneficial Capabilities

With our state-of-the-art equipment, Helander has the capability to produce metal spheres using either CNC or hot spinning. These processes can produce parts with material thicknesses ranging from 0.018” to 0.0750”; typical tolerances are ± 0.015”, but tighter tolerances can be achieved depending on your specific needs. Additionally, metal spheres can be produced with diameters up to 60” and heights up to 30”.

Metal spinning is a highly economical means of manufacturing spheres. With metal spinning, lighter gauge materials can be utilized, cutting down on its already low tooling costs. This process requires sustainably less tooling than others such as stamping, casting, and forging; spinning eliminates the need to create expensive dies and patterns, which also makes it easier to set up.

Metal spinning produces less waste and can utilized preformed blanks, making it an environmentally friendly process. The smooth finishes yielded by metal spinning reduce the need for secondary processes, such as polishing, tumbling, deburring, and others—this helps you save even more on costs, while providing significantly shorter turnarounds.

Helander is capable of spinning several types of metals for production runs or varying sizes. Some of the typical spun metals include:

  •          Stainless Steel (300 and 400 series)
  •          Carbon Steel(s)
  •          Titanium
  •          Brass
  •          Aluminum (1100, 3003, 5052, 6061, 2024, and 7075 series)
  •          Bronze
  •          Copper
  •          Inconel®
  •          Hastelloy®

Applications of Metal Spheres

These versatile metal spun products can be utilized across several industries: petrochemical, oil & gas, water management, food & beverage, industrial heating, aerospace, automotive, power generation, agriculture, and many others.

Some commercial and industrial applications of metal spun spheres include:

  •          Boiler Feed Systems
  •          Steam Traps
  •          Sanitary Spray Balls
  •          Check & Air Valves
  •          Natural Gas & Oil Fields
  •          Oil Separators
  •          Water Distribution & Management
  •          And more

Contact Us for More Information

Our metal spun spheres are held to the same exacting industry standards as our other manufactured parts and components. If you’re interested in learning more about metal spinning, or any of our other custom forming or fabrication services, contact Helander today. 

Tags: metal forming, Metal Spinning, metal hemispheres

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

Safety Under Pressure: Pressure Vessel Shape Matters

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Fri, Jan 10, 2014

pressure vesselThe American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) first published the Boiler & Pressure Code (BPVC) in 1915 in response to the need for safety measures in the production and use of boilers and pressure vessels. In the early 1900s, boilers and pressure vessels – closed containers designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially different from the ambient pressure – were new innovations. These innovations promoted and advanced industrial activity in the U.S., specifically for companies that utilized machines for long-range transportation and heavy lifting.

Safety, however, was an issue. Accidents and fatal disasters were caused by cheap production practices in the early 1900s, careless operations, and temperamental machinery. Because of these issues, the ASME’s BPVC was born and it has played a vital role in manufacturing and industry for almost a century.

Today, the BPVC has been adopted in some form by all 50 states in the U.S. and all provinces of Canada. Additionally, translations and copies of the code are used around the world, promoting pressure vessel safety on an international level. An article posted on the ASME website addresses the importance of pressure vessel safety: “Going by its definition, it is actually very important as the vessel, which comes in the shape of a closed container, is designed to hold gases or liquids at a pressure substantially different from the ambient pressure. If it doesn't, the consequences can be fatal.”

Pressure vessels come in all shapes and sizes, each of which can affect the strength andvarious pressure vessels function of the vessel. Common pressure vessel shapes include sections of spheres, cylinders, and cones, with the most common design being a cylinder with end caps called “heads.” The heads of most pressure vessels are often shaped liked dishes, a round/circular design. According to the previously cited ASME article, “More complicated shapes have been more difficult to analyze for safe operation and are usually far more difficult to construct.” Shape can also affect the strength of a pressure vessel, with spherical pressure vessels having twice the strength of cylindrical pressure vessels.

While the shape of a pressure vessel may present production and safety challenges for some manufacturers, that’s not the case for Helander Company. Helander manufactures pressure vessels of varying shapes and sizes, fabricating seamless custom pressure vessel shells through a special hot spinning process that creates vessels made from stainless steel, mild steel, or aluminum. The pressure vessels can be manufactured with or without bottlenecks depending on a customer’s specifications, and all pressure vessels manufactured by Helander meet ASME safety standards. For more information about custom pressure vessels, specifications, and manufacturing capabilities, visit Helander’s website.



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Tags: metal fabricating, metal forming, Custom Metal Spinning, Custom Fabrication, Custom Pressure Vessels, ASME Safety Standards

Metal Spinning = Cost Effective Metal Forming

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Wed, Dec 11, 2013

Metal Spinning has a long history that spans back to ancient Egypt and has progressed through the years to today’s more advanced methods of forming metal via spinning it.  Today, the modern metal spinning process takes place on rigid lathes that incorporate high velocity spindles that shape the metal.  These spindles are operated either manually or via advanced computer controls.

With these various advances in equipment and tools, almost any ductile metal can be formed into various shapes and configurations (e.g., intricate curves, tight grooves, etc.).  These metals include aluminum, stainless and carbon steels, as well as high performance alloys.  Below are just a few of the thousands of parts and components that are produced via metal spinning:

(click to expand)

Industries that use metal spinning

Metal spinning also offers cost advantages over other types of metal forming.  Here’s a short list of some of the advantages that metal spinning offers when looking at production costs:

  • Tooling and Design Flexibility – Tooling for metal spinning is simple and economical to produce.  Initial tooling investment for metal spinning a component can be 80 to 90% less in comparison to other metal forming processes.
  • Improved Material Yield -- Since metal spinning is a process that produces components by actually deforming a piece of metal or in other words, the component is reshaped without adding or removing material to it.  With metal costs constantly rising, conserving metal resources provides a significant cost advantage via metal spinning.
  • Reduced Material Requirements for Structurally Superior Parts – Another cost advantage involving the use of less material is the fact that when a piece of metal is deformed and cold-worked the metal compresses and realigns the grain structure to harden the material.  This process improves the tensile strength of the metal which allows thinner walled components to be fabricated from lighter gauge materials.

This is a quick overview of the advantages of metal spinning.  Helander has written an eBook, titled “Metal Spinning = Cost Effective Metal Forming” that goes into greater depth on the subject.  You can download it for free by clicking on the button below.  We hope you have a chance to download it and will learn more about metal spinning and how it could save you time and money on your next project.  


Click Here to Download eBook



Tags: metal forming, Metal Spinning, cost savings, ebooks

The Case for Metal Spinning and Metal Hydroforming

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Thu, Oct 10, 2013

Metal Spinning is a process by which a disc or tube of ductile metal is rotated on a spindle and formed into an axially symmetric part. Through the use of heavy forces and high speeds, the metal will deform and “flow” to form the desired shape around a mandrel, a kind of mold that is shaped to the interior geometry of the planned part. This process allows metal to deform evenly, without any wrinkling or warping, to create a smooth, even, and seamless surface. The processes’ heavy forces also realign and strengthen the grain structure, significantly increasing the tensile properties and fatigue resistance of the base material.

Metal Spinning offers a series of compelling benefits for prototype and specialty work. High precision tolerances are easily attained on a wide variety of metal materials and designs. Mandrels are easily manufactured using traditional lathe and mill work, and considering that they are not subjected to excessive force in normal use, may be made of nonmetal materials. CNC control, hydraulic assistance, heat for hot working, and toolholders can all be incorporated into the metal spinning process. Overall, Metal Spinning permits an unparalleled level of flexibility, speed, and efficiency without sacrificing the precision and accuracy delivered by traditional processes.

For designs that are not conducive to spinning operations, Metal Hydroforming provides similar benefits and efficiency gains, effectively replacing work performed by machining or dies. The sheet hydroforming technique replaces one of the rigid dies used in conventional stamping with highly pressurized hydraulic fluid, contained by a urethane diaphragm, to force the sheet metal into a one-sided die cavity. Since the diaphragm, which is essentially acting as the female die, has no distinct shape, its dynamics allow it to take on the shape of any conceivable geometry. Complicated shapes with concavities are now possible in a single press cycle, reducing the amount of follow-up work and required forming operations. Produced to net shape, a single hydroformed component can often replace multiple parts, resulting in assemblies with fewer parts, higher strength, and less cost.

Metal Hydroforming brings many advantages over the typical die press processes that it replaces, especially in the context of prototype and specialty work. New part designs only require replacement of the lower die, which is usually made of cheaper cast iron and not expensive tool steel. During pressure application, friction and stress on the sheetmetal is significantly diminished, resulting in more consistent stressing and increased material drawability. Supplemental finishing operations are not necessary as the material is not marred as it is in standard die operations. Simplicity, efficiency, and service life are all upgraded significantly with Metal Hydroforming.

With the combination of these two processes, a new, and far better, system for prototype and specialty work is realized. Metal Spinning and Metal Hydroforming provide a definite pathway for one-off productions, design formulation, scratchwork, and design qualification, and simultaneously provide a full replacement for expensive, time-consuming traditional methods. Furthermore, both processes may work with just about any cold formed metal, and are easily reconfigured for high production work without any sacrifice in quality. Once the prototype becomes the new product, Metal Spinning and Metal Hydroforming are flexible enough to become the manufacturing system for it.

Helander is an experienced provider of those two services, able to add Metal Spinning and Metal Hydroforming capability to your production paradigm. Helander’s engineers, manufacturing technologists, and material specialists can provide in-depth analysis of component design, advise you on the feasibility and practicality of using metal spinning or hydroforming to form your component part, and can completely manage the production thereof within their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Contact us today to let us help you decide what’s best for your bottom line.


Want to know more?
Download our latest eBook Metal Spinning and Hydroforming - The Stamping Alternative.

Metal Spinning & Hydroforming eBook

Tags: metal fabricating, metal forming, Metal Spinning, hydroforming, Custom Metal Spinning, Metal Stamping

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

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

Metal Spinning at Fabtech: Developments Circulating at the Show

Posted by Samuel Ibrahim, Jr. on Thu, Dec 08, 2011

Metal forming and fabricating are our business here at Helander, so we’re lucky to be so close to the annual Fabtech conference held just up the road in Chicago, this year at McCormick Place. This year’s show, held from November 12th through November 14th, proved just as educational, interesting, and, most of all, fun as in years past. Walking around, taking in all the different booths and displays, it’s quickly apparent that a good 50% or more of the exhibits focus on metalforming – certainly of interest to us, but not quite up our alley, not quite the art of metal spinning.

Fortunately, at a huge show like Fabtech, you can’t go too far without coming across something that does catch your eye. In our case, we were on the lookout for exhibits about the convergence of metal spinning and hydroforming. The interfaces for this technology are changing and evolving quickly, allowing for some of the most precise and repeatable functions available in manufacturing. Hand-in-hand with this type of accuracy is an improved ability to troubleshoot problems: with finer detail and more thorough recording of processes, production issues can be isolated and rectified much more quickly than previously.

Stay in touch with our blog, TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn pages for more metal spinning news!


Tags: metal fabricating, metal forming, Fabtech