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Thread: Robo Welding

  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Robo Welding

    In another post about magnesium frames, there was a reference to Merida bicycles (which I had never heard of - who we are told owns Specialized.) Amongst the tech-marketing info was this interesting page about robot welding machines.
    Takes most of the romance out of bike building, doesn't it? It's probably a good thing for large scaled applications though. What do you think?

    http://www.merida.com/s0_global/main...obot&group2=0&
    Last edited by AlexCad5; 12-28-2006 at 07:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Well, as long as their fit up is consistent with how the welding process is developed then the site you linked is right, the welds will be perfect (or at least all the same). TIG welded frames are great and all, but they're made by humans, and they tend to have larger HAZ (Heat Affected Zones, look it up) than a robo-welded frame. This lowers the structural integrity of the frame (a very little bit). Also, the automation of the welding process speeds up the entire process of making a frame, and more frames in the same amount of time means less cost per frame. Add in that robotic welding procedures do not require operators (thereby saving labor costs) and automated welding makes a lot of business sense.

    So, yes, there's a heck of a lot less romance in the process, but you'll get a higher quality product for the same price that will last at least as long as a human-welded equivalent. Seeing as how magnesium is a mega-biotch to weld (needs to be done in a completely inert environment, needs to be completely clean), and there's a possibility of bodily harm to the welder if the process is done wrong, all these things make automation the easy choice.
    "Get it anyway. Nothing we do on a bicycle has the slightest connection to 'worth it'." -danl1
    "Steel is not made of magic" -Argentius
    "There's a possibility the moon will fall from the sky killing but a small kitten on impact with the earth tomorrow." -Rogger

  3. #3
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    Robotic Welding

    I have no doubt about the quality of robot welded frames. Yes, it's true that Specialized is owned by Merida (about 50% stock) and all Specialized bikes are produced by Merida. Before Schwinn and GT went bankrupt, a lot of their bikes were produced by Merida as well. Merida's version of the Specialized Epic came out one year before the Specialized Epic hit the market which is called LRS for Merida. If you look closely on the Specialized bike boxes, you will see the Merida logo with Merida printed in Mandarin. There is no doubt about the quality of welds that you see on Specialized bikes. They are always so smooth and consistent(from lower end bikes to high end stuff). Merida has been using robotic welding for over 20 years. Their machines come from Japan because their founder had very close ties with the Japanese. If robotic welds are unreliable, Merida would not continue using it for years and years. Even Giant robotically weld their frames too.

    In my opinion, robot welded frames more consistent and cost effective. I also prefer it over hand welded frames. (I know a lot of guys will want to debate about this. ) A lot of the frames that are known to be hand made are actually robotically welded as well by major manufactures in Taiwan. I own a Merida Matts Slick Rock hardtail that is over 8 years old and it has taken tons of abuse. I have yet to come across any cracks on the frame or chips on the paint.

  4. #4
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    i was a welder by trade, i got no problem with robotic welding. its great for larger companies that need to crank out lots of frames for low prices to get more people on bikes. then once your an enthusiast, get a handmade frame. if you want romance, get a steel lugged frame; or a tig'd frame, or a brazed frame from any number of great builders in the US that specialize in hand made frames.

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