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Steelhead Composites

Steelhead Composites Expands Metal Spin-Forming Capabilities

The company can spin-form liners, bottles, and vessels in titanium, stainless steel, and carbon steel

GOLDEN, Colo.–Steelhead Composites, a manufacturer of composite overwrapped pressure vessels and composite structures, has grown its internal capabilities in metal forming outside of aluminum by successfully manufacturing cylinders using carbon steel, seamless stainless steel, and titanium, the company reported.

"We have been rethinking how we approach metal spin-forming, modifying machinery and investing in tooling, which now allows us to form a wide variety of metals either as standalone cylinders or composite overwrapped pressure vessels," said Andrew Coors, CEO of Steelhead Composites, in a press release. "We are proud to be able to offer this capability to our product offerings or as a contract service."

Spin-forming is a metal forming process in which a metallic tube is turned into a "bottle" with necked ends, often with no welds or seams. The tube is rotated fast on a spindle and heated with gas torches while being gradually formed into the desired shape. A servo-controlled robotic arm with a forming wheel contacts the tube and forms the necked ends. Spin-forming does not remove any material. This is critical to industries, such as aerospace and defense, that can capitalize on removing processes and potential failure points from welding in the variety of applications in which cylinders are used.

"Our standard products use aluminum liners, which we then reinforce with composites," said Dr. Kaushik Mallick, head of engineering, "but aluminum is not optimal for all applications. We use advanced material analysis and design capabilities, allowing us to now manufacture a broader suite of seamless cylinders with characteristics optimized to the customer's application."

Steelhead is now producing steel-lined composite overwrapped vessels for high cycle life applications, while still cutting significant weight from systems using traditional steel vessels. The company has also successfully formed seamless stainless-steel vessels for corrosive applications. Steelhead, which received its AS9100:2016 (Rev. D) certification last November, is manufacturing seamless titanium liners, moving towards titanium-lined composite overwrapped pressure vessels for aerospace applications under its AS 9100 - Rev D quality system.

Steelhead Composites (, based in Golden, Colorado, is dedicated to the design, manufacturing, and testing of specialty lightweight hydraulic components and composite pressure vessels for weight-sensitive energy and fuel storage applications. The company's specialties include lightweight bladder, diaphragm, and piston accumulators; hydrogen storage vessels for fuel cells, gas storage, and transport; and other composite structures. Steelhead offers technical services in vessel design, metal spin-forming, filament winding, prototyping, and testing of high pressure vessels.

This technical information has been contributed by
Steelhead Composites

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