Portuguese Triangles Makes Alloy Frames in Five Minutes
BAGNATICA, Italy – How the Portuguese Triangles factory will be making aluminium bicycle frames with German car technology becomes clearer with the pre-series production start only a few months away. The facility operates 2 production lines; each with 10 welding robots as well as completely automated tube preparation machinery.
“The key point in the production process is not the robotized welding. It’s how alloy frame-tubes are prepared for that process.” That’s according to Luigi Seghezzi, CEO of Italian Bike Machinery.
Project by Rodi, Miranda & Ciclo-Fapril
Bike Machinery is heavily involved in the Portuguese aluminium frame production project initiated by Rodi, Miranda, and Ciclo-Fapril. These Agueda, Portugal based companies are investing €14 million in the frame facility, which will have an initial capacity of 450,000 aluminium frames. Setting-up aluminium frame production in Portugal is widely recognized as a major move towards adding flexibility to the supply chain of the bike industry in Europe.
Know-how in bikes
It’s ambitious. Something big and totally new for Europe. That’s how bike industry veteran Seghezzi typifies this aluminium bike frame factory now being established in Portugal. One of the initiators of this project – rim maker Rodi – turned to Bike Machinery for assistance as well as for machinery. “They turned to us because Rodi has no background in frame-making. What we offer is our know-how for bikes,” says Seghezzi.
In particular for the robotized welding, Rodi, Miranda, and Ciclo-Fapril are working closely with a leading expert in the automotive industry. But there’s a big difference in the automated manufacture of car chassis’ and bike frames.
Tube preparation machinery
Next to know-how Bike Machinery is also providing the tube preparation machinery for the frame-making installation. These machines take care of cutting, shaping, and all other operations that have to take place on the alloy tubing before the robotized welding can take place. These operations are key in the automated process, emphasizes Seghezzi. “Done correctly the robots will accept the tubes for welding.”
Alignment of welded frames
Also, Bike Machinery is providing machines for checking and correcting the right alignment of the welded frames. This takes place two times during the welding process. With the purchasing of these machines a total investment of some €2 million is involved.
Robotized MIG-MAG pulsed welding
The entire frame production process including tube preparation is completely automated. Operation at each station take less than 30 seconds. The robotized MIG-MAG pulsed welding takes a bit longer, but overall production time for a complete frame is limited to 4 to 5 minutes.
Bike Machinery also makes about 250 standard machines for bicycle manufacturers that vary from (race) frames & fork-making machines right up to assembly lines. Nowadays the company concentrates on the EU and South American markets.