Laser Machining Provides Precise Bevel Cutting of Titanium Tubular Bicycle Components
The Helix bike features a side-by-side folding design that puts the wheels beside the frame and between the cranks. Photos courtesy of Helix Labs and Prima Power Laserdyne.
Helix uses a Laserdyne 430 Beam Director to manufacture its unique folding bike
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada–Helix Labs Inc., creators of a unique new folding bike, used an innovative manufacturing process to make its patent-pending design possible. Beyond creating a novel bicycle, Helix made the bold move to automate its manufacturing facilities to meet the demands for cost, quality, and consistency. A Laserdyne 430 Beam Director fiber laser machining system was a key part of the new process, enabling Helix to precisely bevel-cut titanium tubing that is used throughout the bicycle.
For Helix, the steeply beveled edges of the titanium tubing required precise and clean cuts to accomplish perfect fit-up of the tubing for accurate robotic welding. Working closely with Prima Power Laserdyne applications engineers, Helix created a robust, consistently high-quality bevel cutting capability based on the Laserdyne 430BDY system. The 430BD fiber cutting system also produces holes and slots in the tubular parts. But the key is the steep-angle bevel cutting of the titanium tubes. This unique 430BDY capability allowed Helix engineers the flexibility to design the bike assembly for maximum rigidity and strength with the least weight where other tube cutting systems had limited or no titanium angle-cutting capabilities.
“To meet these challenging and different beveled angles, there are unique capabilities within the Laserdyne 430BDY system,” said Corey Hansen, regional sales manager for Prima Power Laserdyne, which helped develop the process. “A key system feature utilizes a horizontally-mounted rotary table with a through-bore chuck to accurately locate and hold the titanium tubes for cutting to shape. Titanium is the ideal material for the Helix Bike design because of its high strength, light weight, remarkable corrosion resistance, and unparalleled durability. But it can be challenging to process. The 430BD produces the beveled cuts up to 45 degrees from the surface without dross or spatter residue, so tubes mated perfectly ready for the automated welding operations. No secondary deburring or tube cleanup was needed prior to welding.”
Another helpful 430BDY feature is the system’s integrated control of 6-axis laser motion, allowing Laserdyne application engineers the capability to develop the robust and repeatable process for angle-cutting the titanium tubular components. The 430 Beam Director system incorporates Laserdyne’s third Generation Beam Director. This gives users like Helix a unique capability for not only bevel cutting but also drilling cylindrical and shaped holes and welding a wide range of materials in addition to titanium, all with the same system.
“The 6-axis Laserdyne 430 Beam Director is fast, flexible, and provides the high-quality processing that we needed to produce an industry-leading bicycle for our customers,” said Helix CEO Peter Boutakis. “The addition of the 430BD was a critical aspect of our manufacturing, and the Laserdyne team showed a strong willingness to partner towards the goal of producing a high-quality laser cut. This helped make possible our drive towards a smaller, lighter, safer, and easier-to-use foldable bike.”
Helix Labs (www.helix.ca) is a bicycle startup located in Toronto. Its stated goal is to “make the best folding bikes on the planet.” Helix’s patent-pending, side-by-side folding design puts the wheels beside the frame and between the cranks. The bike is “designed to go everywhere, whether it’s in the subway, the trunk of your car, or in a suitcase.”
Prima Power Laserdyne (www.primapower.com) manufactures and markets Laserdyne precision laser cutting, welding, and drilling systems for the aerospace, medical device, and automotive industries, as well as manufacturers of precision components worldwide.
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