Helix is the first titanium bike in the world to be robotically TIG welded in an inert argon chamber.
The team at Helix accomplished this by taking on the very complex tasks of designing their own welding cell, creating a custom welding torch, designing and building specialized welding fixtures and iterating through weld tests to establish optimized weld parameters for this advanced robotic application.
The welding cell is all stainless steel construction consisting of a large main chamber where the welding takes place and a smaller air-lock that allows the fixtured bicycle frame to be inserted without having to evacuate the main chamber. Two gas purification cylinders re-circulate the chamber environment continuously to maintain less than 1ppm oxygen levels while also controlling moisture.
The robot and multi-axis positioner inside the chamber work together to achieve the perfect torch angle where the weld pool is always beneath the torch and the speed of welding is always consistent.
Helix uses pulse welding to reduce the heat affected zone and distortion, while maximizing weld penetration. The resulting welds are not only aesthetically beautiful; they are the pinnacle of welding technology. They are smooth and uniform with a larger radius bead and much closer fillet marks. The welds have unprecedented strength and have set a new industry standard for titanium bikes.
Their process overcomes many of the shortcomings of conventional hand welding. There's no risk of accidental contamination as the entire system is in the inert envronment. Weld parameters are automatic, so user error is eliminated. There is no variation in welder skill; the speed, path and positions are controlled by the robot and automation systems.
Mastering their welding process was a critical milestone for Helix to be able to mass produce their bikes. The exceptional weld quality and consistency that only a robot and inert environment could achieve resulted in what Helix believes to be the best welded titanium bike in the industry.
Multi axis CNC machining
Helix uses 27 titanium CNC machined parts - the most machined titanium on any bike ever manufactured. These parts are made on their multi-axis mills and lathes.
Titanium is one of the hardest materials to machine. It takes much longer and has significantly higher wear on the tooling.
This level of machining is prohibitively expensive and is usually reserved for aerospace, medical and military applications but Helix has adopted the process for use in bicycles.
While titanium has some exposure in sporting applications it is rarely with CNC machining. CNC machining surpasses casting and other processes by producing lighter and stronger parts.
Laser Tube Cutting
Helix's tubes are precision cut on their multi-axis laser making Helix's complex frame geometry possible. Helix is the first bicycle company to use laser cutting for titanium. The process results in micron tolerances that ensure precise welding and frame alignment.
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