Spincraft Solutions Supporting Starliner

Spincraft MA Laser Scanning an Atlas V Spun Dome

Spincraft Solutions Supporting Starliner

On June 5, 2024, United Launch Alliance (ULA)’s Atlas V rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This launch made history as the first crew flight test carrying NASA astronauts aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. After nearly 27 hours of spaceflight, astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams arrived and docked successfully at the International Space Station (ISS). The crew flight test is a pivotal step that will pave the way for dozens of future astronauts to fly aboard Starliner on missions to orbit. This mission is special to the Spincraft team as we have manufactured a number of the components on both the Atlas V rocket and Starliner spacecraft.

Spincraft, out of its Massachusetts facility has been manufacturing fuel tank domes since the inception of the Atlas V program. Since 2009 the team has spun formed, heat treated, machined, and delivered nearly 400 Atlas V domes. The team recently completed and shipped the last Atlas V fuel tank dome for final assembly this year (2024).

Spincraft MA Laser Scanning an Atlas V Spun Dome
Spincraft MA employees with the last dome we've produced for the Atlas V program

Additionally, Spincraft provided a solution for the Starliner’s crew capsule. In 2009, our Massachusetts site was involved in the developmental phase of the structure and early testing of Starliner components. During this time, Spincraft was contracted to evaluate material properties to ensure the conditions of the formed structure were up to the strict standards needed for the spacecraft. 

As a result of this development effort, the team was contracted to provide the spun formed, heat treated and high speed milled critical parts for Starliner’s crew capsule out of large single-piece aluminum plates. The Massachusetts facility manufactured the upper and lower domes of the crew module pressurized structure, where the crew lives and works while traveling from Earth to the ISS. Starliner’s work upon docking is not done, as the capsule is also designed to serve as a lifeboat for up to 6 months for the crew in the event of an emergency.

Crew Capsule

This collaborative effort with our Boeing and NASA customers to develop the final product requirements enabled Spincraft to get additional spin forming experience for new large and unique contours. We learned additional lessons about the machining/milling and heat treatment processes that ultimately contributed to the successful fabrication of the flight hardware which has been paying dividends as Spincraft forms the future of spaceflight and exploration.

With over a quarter-century of experience in the space sector, Spincraft can be trusted to support next-generation launch and space flight vehicle development as one of the most critical metal forming solutions suppliers. With leading-edge forming processes, Spincraft can facilitate and shape space exploration and commercialization through close collaborations with current and new partners. We invite you to connect and discuss how Spincraft can collaborate with you to solve your critical metal forming challenges with cost-effective solutions that will eliminate welds and reduce input weight.

Spincraft Collaborates on Aviation Manufacturing Alternatives

Spincraft Collaborates on Aviation Manufacturing Alternatives

Spincraft has been a long-time supplier to the European aviation sector by leveraging its in-house spinning, shear forming and machining capabilities out of its Newcastle facilities. 

As part of the continuing initiatives to develop cost-effective manufacturing alternatives, Spincraft has an opportunity to impact an ATI-funded project by collaborating with Rolls-Royce and the Advanced Forming Research Centre. This project will examine the business case and technical considerations for a wider deployment of spun formed parts into aero-engine assemblies. The material utilization and lead time advantages over existing methods are thought to present a compelling case for process change.

Members of Spincraft’s Engineering and Manufacturing departments had the opportunity to visit the Rolls-Royce facility in Derby to discuss part layouts and potential solutions across current engine platforms including different hot section components where a one-piece spun option has the ability to accelerate lead times, improve quality and reduce costs vs alternative manufacturing approaches. Spincraft prides itself on long-term customer collaborations with leading firms like Rolls to identify and implement cost-effective ideas using our advanced metal forming capabilities. 

While onsite, our teammates were also treated to a tour of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust Exhibition. The Heritage collection is home to a noteworthy selection of historically significant Rolls-Royce engines. Additionally, the Centre displays a scale model of the Spirit of Innovation, the world’s record-winning fastest electric aircraft that reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h over 3 kilometers in 2021. 

Spincraft’s visit was a great reminder of the heritage and evolution of flight hardware development. The visit was productive in identifying new opportunities we can support in future aerospace development suitable for our processes of spinning, shear forming, press forming and flow forming. 

Spincraft: Leading Space Supplier with Advanced Forming Capabilities

Crew Capsule

Spincraft: Leading Space Supplier with Advanced Forming Capabilities

Space Launch Vehicle & Structures

The rapid commercialization of space and recommitment to exploration are fueling innovation across the space launch vehicle and structures sectors. New products and complex designs require clever manufacturing approaches to minimize input weight and provide the most cost-effective solutions. Spincraft’s capabilities and experience offer the perfect combination to support these industry demands and technical requirements.

Our Spincraft facilities operate some of the world’s largest spin forming equipment. This allows us to provide complex geometries in thick-walled cross sections from all formable metallic alloys that are critical to meet aerospace requirements.

Spincraft Sump
Crew Capsule

Various aerospace applications benefit from Spincraft’s unique forming capabilities. Spincraft has provided the industry with considerable variations and sizes of fan shrouds and tank sumps for over 26 years.

Spincraft’s distinctive abilities allow our customers to design parts with complex features that significantly optimize part mass and aid downstream manufacturing and assemblies. The curved geometry of these parts is readily formable in heavy thick-walled sections giving Spincraft a leading edge in meeting specialized customer demands for high precision and low-mass components. These are essential specifications necessary to deliver crew and cargo to orbit and beyond.

Some examples of Spincraft’s aerospace hardware credentials include: 

  • Precision attachment locations for flow direction vanes
  • Propellent management devices (PMD) such as anti-vortex baffles and drain ports
  • Airlocks & Docking Adaptors
  • Crew habitation module components 

Spincraft is a trusted partner in support of next-generation launch and space flight vehicle development with over a quarter-century of experience as one of the most critical solutions suppliers to the space sector. With leading-edge forming processes, Spincraft stands poised to facilitate and shape the next decade of space exploration and commercialization via our close collaborations with current and new partners. We invite you to connect and discuss how Spincraft can collaborate with you to solve your critical metal forming challenges with cost-effective solutions that will eliminate welds and reduce input weight.

Solving Defense Sector Safety Challenges with Metal Formed Solutions

Finished Turret Bulkhead

Solving Defense Sector Safety Challenges with Metal Formed Solutions

Spincraft prides itself on working closely with our customers to solve their most advanced metal forming challenges using our unique capabilities and industry expertise. A prime example of putting our precision engineering experience and expertise to the test is collaborating with customers in the defense sector where quality products are absolute requirements. One such recent customer we seek to highlight, Kongsberg, produces remote weapon systems solutions delivered to nearly 30 countries worldwide.

The Problem Presented

In 2018, this customer was keen on looking into defense manufacturers that could manufacture fabricated turrets for armored fighting vehicles. With Spincraft’s history supporting the defense sector, we were approached about revising a critical part of the vehicle’s design.

When looking at an armored fighting vehicle, a turret with its weapons system and munitions storage sits on top, and typically, crew members operate from within this turret. Our design was focused on a new way of thinking that would provide a much higher level of protection for the crew by enabling them to remain completely within the hull of the vehicle using a remote weapons system and keeping them away from the munitions storage. A critical part of the crew protection system is the armored bulkhead which is the barrier between the crew and ballistic or explosive threats acting on the turret.

A typical conventionally fabricated armored turret bulkhead will need to allow full articulation of any weapons systems in the turret including large angles of elevation. This causes a significant loss of crew space beneath the turret or requires a higher vehicle silhouette, neither of which are good solutions. By collaborating with the customer, Spincraft was able to provide design for manufacture guidelines to develop a high integrity, geometrically optimal bulkhead. This meant that full weapon system functionality could be accomplished without the need to compromise on crew safety, crew compartment space or vehicle silhouette.  

The main weapon system elevation requirement encroaches into the crew area in the vehicle hull.

Initial Bulkhead vehicle design

New spun formed solution allows full elevation, maintains low vehicle silhouette and maintains the crew’s safety.

The Spincraft Solution

Spincraft delivered a first-of-its-kind solution as the only company in the world that has spun formed armor plate offering the following combined value proposition:

  • Greatly reduced product cost with a near-net offering
  • Uncompromised part strength with a single-piece construction that eliminated welds and potential failure points of a fabricated approach
  • A complete ‘assembly ready’ solution with a slew-ring mounted armor hatch, latching system, locks and handles, painting to NATO specifications and all markings and labels added for vehicle fitment readiness
  • Spinning to a complex contour that enabled greater headspace inside the armored vehicle and permitted the crew to maneuver the remote weapons system to reach a broader range of angles
UK Defense Solution

We connected with Swedish Steel, a supplier of our leading Oil & Gas spun solutions, as they make a wide variety of armored plates. They were able to supply trial material for Spincraft to perform a formability assessment. These sub-scale parts were supplied for careful evaluation using industry-standard ballistic testing methods and test criteria. After successful outcomes from both forming trials and ballistic assessment, our engineers discussed outcomes with Kongsberg and were able to recommend design edits that ensured we could meet their design briefing most cost-effectively.

With a few modifications to meet the outcomes of trials, Spincraft first manufactured a stainless steel demonstrator and then an armored plate demonstrator unit that successfully met our customer’s requirements and solved their challenges.

Contact Us

Standex Engineering Technology Group and its Spincraft businesses are a proud strategic manufacturing partner to leading defense OEMs and Tier 1s across the world. To tackle your most challenging metal forming designs in the most cost-effective manner, reach out to our expert metal forming colleagues today.

Manufacturing Solutions for Medical Technology

Medical Systems MRI Machine

Manufacturing Solutions for Medical Technology

Manufacturing Cryogenic Pressure Vessel Heads for MRI Scanners

Standex Engineering Technologies Group and its Spincraft UK business, a leading metal forming solutions provider in Newcastle in the North East of the United Kingdom, has manufactured thousands of cryogenic pressure vessel heads for MRI scanners used in the medical imaging industry. Spincraft is the leading supplier of these components that are critical to the function of MRI scanners like the Siemens Magnetom, an industry leader in accuracy and resolution with over 30 thousand units shipped over the last three decades.

Patient undergoing an MRI procedure

The Origins of our Involvement

Spincraft has been involved with the system manufacturer since the early days of widespread MRI use in clinical environments. We have collaborated closely with our customer’s design team to understand their technical needs and concerns. Decades of building a relationship and prioritizing customer intimacy allowed Spincraft to design our forming solutions with the flexibility to respond to and accommodate substantial design changes as scanner technology has advanced while keeping costs within the customer’s budget.

Over the years, Spincraft has developed new forming methods and processes to meet the increasingly demanding tolerance requirements that MRI scanner pressure vessels require. The design of these structures has changed to be lighter and more cost-efficient, with more power and better imaging that drives thinner but stiffer vessel construction. As these designs have evolved, the need for component repeatability and maintaining cost efficiency has not wavered.

Lifting the Lid on the MRI Scanner’s Internal Construction

Most people only see the outside plastic covers on an MRI scanner. Underneath this is the main pressure vessel assembly known as the Cryostat. The Cryostat has three layers with formed metal components made by Spincraft.

The outer layer is known as the Outer Vacuum Chamber (OVC). This stainless steel OVC keeps the contents of the Cryostat under a vacuum to help with conductive insulation, much like a thermos flask keeping heat out of the contents rather than keeping heat in. 

The next layer is a Thermal Shield made from aluminium. It has a highly reflective surface that helps provide a barrier to heat transmission by radiation.

Inside the Shield is the Helium Vessel (HeV) that contains the liquid Helium and a selection of electromagnets.

MRI head
Cut-away of MRI Cryostat Construction with Spun-formed ends

Why is this needed?

At the core of the MRI scanner are a number of extremely powerful electromagnets that have many thousands of times the power of the Earth’s magnetic field. These magnets align protons to create the images needed for clinical examination. These magnets are cooled by the liquid helium until they superconduct — requiring significantly less electrical power.

The Cryostat must maintain these cryogenic temperatures and vacuum pressures to keep the magnets superconducting. Vessel heads made by Spincraft are an essential part of cryostat performance. When the vacuum is applied, the Spincraft heads are subjected to an atmospheric force of about 35 tonnes (77,000 lbs) and maintain the critical alignment between the outer vessel shells and inner bore tubes without fail.

Our customer has continually relied on Spincraft to deliver thousands of parts that consistently meet the most stringent quality requirements needed for accurate medical diagnosis and advanced neurological research.

The Manufacturing Process

The experienced Spincraft team has undertaken years of methodical improvement to streamline and optimize the manufacturing process. Our current process looks like this:

1.  An operator moves the material to the plasma profiling machine where a unique serial number is assigned for part traceability in the entire manufacturing sequence.

2.  A square plate is cut into a circle for the spin forming process. The surfaces and edges are cleaned for safety and quality.

3.  The inside diameter of the part has a weld prep machined in place.

4.  The parts are spun formed using a multi-stage CNC process with multiple tools to ensure all requirements are met.

5.  After forming, the part is fully inspected and validated against the customer’s requirements.

6.  Once confirmed correct, the part is prepared and packed for shipment.

Contact Us

The Spincraft team has a proven track record as an innovative solutions provider in the medical technology sector, as well as other industries including Aerospace and Defence. We encourage you to contact a Spincraft representative to discuss how we can collaborate and support your most advanced metal forming needs.

EVENT: DPRTE 2024

DPRTE UK Defence Event 2024

EVENT: DPRTE 2024

Defence - Procurement - Research - Technology - Exportability

DPRTE UK Defence Event 2024

Spincraft will be exhibiting at DPRTE 2024 on the Make UK stand.

Date: Wednesday 27 March 2024 

Time: 9AM – 4PM

Location: Farnborough International | Exhibition & Conference Centre

Booth: MU7

From Newcastle to Jupiter

Finished Fuel Tank Dome

From Newcastle to Jupiter

Major news for the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus as the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft has officially launched from the spaceport in French Guiana on the Ariane 5 rocket. The successful launch occurred on April 14th.

Spincraft is thrilled to play a part in deep space exploration via our advanced metal forming solutions. The Spincraft UK facility produced domes used to manufacture JUICE’s propellant tank, one of the largest titanium tanks ever built for satellite propulsion systems. Spincraft work entailed the forming, pre-machining and heat treatment of tank domes that were used in both pre-launch ground testing as well as for flight hardware.

JUICE program metal being formed into a fuel tank
Spincraft Dome Forming
Spincraft UK metal forming

JUICE is embarking on an eight-year journey that will arrive at Jupiter in 2031. The mission will observe Jupiter and its largest icy moons: Callisto, Europa and Ganymede. The goal is to monitor, experiment and determine if these environments have conditions that can harbor life.

The JUICE vehicle will travel from Earth to Venus where it will pick up a gravity boost. From there it will make various fly-by passes to Earth as it picks up speed from gravity and moves out from the inner solar system, aided by momentum, on its 500-million-mile journey to Jupiter. It will use the Jovian gravity field to decelerate at the other end. The fuel tank is for smaller maneuvers rather than providing for the main thrust to get to Jupiter.

Spincraft UK JUICE Dome
Finished Fuel Tank Dome

Spincraft is looking forward to following the progress JUICE makes along its journey. Learn more about our capabilities and space systems solutions by clicking Here. Please reach out to our team to discuss how we can solve your most critical metal forming challenges.

Spincraft Receives Airbus D2P Supplier Award

Airbus Award for Spincraft

Spincraft Receives Airbus D2P Supplier Award

Airbus Award for Spincraft

Spincraft, a Standex Engineering Technologies Group company, is pleased to announce that we were recently recognized at the annual Airbus Detail Parts Partner Conference and Awards (D2P) held on March 14th in France.

Spincraft received an award under the Specialist category for strong contributions and superior performance over the last year, specifically great collaboration, delivery and performance by the Spincraft WI team on A320neo lipskins and the Spincraft UK site’s proactive approach to developing prototype hardware solutions for the ZEROe initiative.

This award is a direct result of Spincraft’s proven track record of sustaining operational reliability, delivering on our commitments, cultivating customer intimacy and supplying cost-effective advanced metal forming solutions.

A big congratulations to our global Spincraft team for making this possible. Contact us to discuss how we can support your manufacturing challenges.

Richard J. Morganti Scholarship Recipient

Richard Morganti Scholarship Recipient

Richard J. Morganti Scholarship Recipient 

Standex ETG is delighted to announce Dylan Ward as the recipient of the Richard J. Morganti ’82 Scholarship for the 2022-2023 academic year. Dylan is a freshman from Marshfield, Massachusetts majoring in Marine Engineering at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), Rich’s alma mater.

Here is what Dylan had to say about his recent experience this winter completing his first Sea Term:

Richard Morganti Scholarship Recipient

Sea Term definitely lived up to my expectations. I experienced things that I never had before because I have rarely left home. The ports we went to were exotic and beautiful. The days I spent on them were some of the greatest I’ve ever had. Sea Term was definitely harder than I expected. The schedule was constantly changing so you wouldn’t get much sleep. Every day you had a job, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes outside in the heat in the middle of the day. Living conditions were rough, as I slept in a hold with sixty other cadets my age. It did not smell good. We went through rough seas and worked tough jobs, but it was all worth it in the end. I did things that I never would have had the opportunity to do if I never came to Massachusetts Maritime Academy, like ride a jet ski and swim through a coral reef. The school is not easy and neither was Sea Term, but it has all been worth it so far. I enjoyed working on the ship and will continue learning more about Marine Engineering, so I can hopefully make a living on a ship when I graduate.

Congratulations to Dylan on his accomplishments and we wish him the best of luck with his academic journey! This scholarship was established in honor of ETG employee Rich Morganti, who graduated with the class of ’82. We are pleased to contribute in Rich’s memory to a worthy young man that is excited about his pursuits at MMA.