The Elegance of Spin Forming and Chandeliers
By Andrea Mustine, IQS Editor
Creating an environment of old world elegance and grace can be easily achieved with an artfully crafted chandelier, which inevitably takes center stage in any residential or commercial venue that seeks to dazzle those who enter it. Lighting up rooms that vary from theatres to libraries to homes of individuals, chandeliers are a sure fire way of making a lasting impression. These light fixtures have been around for centuries, morphing with the times by replacing candles with light bulbs while retaining the grandeur and charm of soft but thorough lighting and fine craftsmanship. The way chandeliers are produced in our modern age has also evolved. No longer are the metallic elements that make up chandeliers hand carved, but they are developed by way of methods like spin forming, a process that shapes round or hollowed out objects with dimensions that are even and precise. Whether this process is applied with a manually run metal spinning machine are a CNC machining system, the result is always the same; perfection.
Axial symmetry, which means that an object is exactly the same regardless of the angle at which it is viewed, is nearly impossible without the aid of a spin forming machine. In this sense, chandeliers created in recent years are much more structurally impressive because they are evenly proportioned and able to reflect the design flawlessly. Also, none of the allure of a hand crafted chandelier from antiquity is lost in regards to design, since most chandeliers are still custom made and able to reflect the uniqueness of their individual structures and details. This is true when CNC machining is controlling the spin forming machine and when a human being is doing so. One operation technique being chosen over another rather depends on whether or not the person having the chandelier made may want to alter the design once the production process has begun. If this is the case a manual handling of the spin forming machine is preferred.
Metal spinning image courtesy of ACME Metal Spinning.
Traditional spin forming machines are lathes with a formed block mounted on the driving section of the machine. A pressure pad then clamps the metal disk being shaped into a chandelier piece onto the forming block, all of which is supported by a stationary tailstock. The lathe then rotates the forming block at high speeds, shaping the metal disk into the desired shape without the aid of heat, which is why spin forming is known as a cold working process. Engraving can also take place during this section of the process, etching into the metal material designs that are axially symmetrical because of the rotation of the piece while the engraving is taking place. When particularly complex shapes are being formed, which is common with the creation of chandeliers, ice forms can be used to help stabilize and direct the process. These ice forms then melt after the machine completes the part, which usually only takes a matter of minutes. The speed of the shaping as well as the engraving can be controlled manually or by way of a computer numerical control program.
The cylindrical, hemispherical and cylindrical shapes required when crafting a custom made chandelier can be difficult to create without the assistance of spin forming machines, particularly while trying to keep the production affordable. Whether the metal is a classic gold, sleek silver or modern stainless steel, shaping these materials into detailed and elegant pieces would be a great and imprecise process without the lathe. Thankfully, many metal spinning job shops are equipped with the skilled craftsmen and excellent equipment necessary to provide their customers with stunningly beautiful chandeliers for their home or entertainment venue.