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Hand Spinning vs. CNC Spinning

Monday, April 13, 2015
posted by IMT-Webmaster

hand-spinning-vsCraft machinist have always been reluctant to give up their “bones” in metal spinning. As hand spinners of longstanding, they feel the craft lies in their delicate touch and feel. That’s where the art lies. After all, hand metal spinning is an age-old art that can conserve material, produce precision, and repeat quality. But, machining professionals are quickly coming to value CNC metal spinning as a welcome and inevitable technology.

Hand spinning

Industry has long relied on hand spinning lathes to quickly prepare metal prototypes. Primarily used on sheet metal, a levered force applies to the metal spinning against a  mandrel. The pressure applied uniformly to the speeding spin shapes the form evenly. The speed and craft permits fast production and reproduction.

Only the mandrel has to be replaced or altered to modify the outcome. However, and depending on the complexity of the design, the physical force can proved increasingly demanding per job and over time. It takes muscle, and while it gets easier through a training curve, the pressure on muscles and joints becomes counterproductive.

So, while you don’t want to deny or diminish the skills and artistry of these “old school” hand spinners, automated spinners are now the state-of-the-art.

CNC spinning

Cut it, form it, and fabricate it, customers for processed metal demand accuracy, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. Traditional machines have taken up less space and used less power than the larger more complex CNC machines. But, despite their upfront cost and energy usage, Computer Numerical Control machines offer undeniable advantages – to supplier and customer.

  • Produce more quickly and more precisely than hand spinning.
  • Run constantly as long as you perform scheduled maintenance.
  • Produce thousands of duplicates within the same tolerance designed.
  • Require fewer operators allowing fewer machinists to turn out more product at more multiple machines.
  • Integrate with CAD design, responding to software revisions from designers.

The CNC revolution introduces new technologies that enable machined designs not doable on manual spinners. Some machines even allow you to make multiple axes of motion creating two- and three-dimensional cuts and contours. Those same advances allow you to reprogram machines to create entirely different parts with little downtime and to adjust operating equipment in advance of wear. And, continuing advances promise the evolution of more artificial intelligence and robotics to assist CNC spinning.

The “new school” machining

The CNC does not wipe out the crafts people working in machine shops. There will still be calls for their subtle artistry. But, the new direction reduces the demanding, dirty, physical pressures on operators and generally improves their work environment. And, most employers offer them the first chance to train to the new equipment.

CNC metal spinning does not mean a loss of the qualified operator. In fact, the CNC technology requires new knowledge, skills, and abilities that are information-based. That information creates a new quality-focused partnership between operator and product and between supplier and customer.

Customer needs for quality metal fabrication and manufacturing are upping the demand for uncluttered work flow, high-quality outcomes, and guaranteed service. And, the metal works specialists who accept and master the challenge presented by advanced CNC technology are redefining metal manufacturing.

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