Technology


Production Process
If you already have interest in Titanium, you may want to know how we produce the most innovative bicycle frames and parts on the market.
 

Design
Every frame we produce is a perfect suite for a particular application.  We blend the wishes of our clients with our unsurpassed knowledge of cycling and building technology to make the best quality frames and parts.

Every new design is carefully modeled and analyzed in AutoCAD2007 and Solid Works to make sure that the frame is not only accurate, but also functional.   We adhere to international industry standard including the Shimano Tech Book.

We were the first production company to develop technology for titanium-carbon frames (both road and mountain) in 1998.  At the same time we developed a wide range of bicycle components.   We firmly believe that titanium is the best material for components such as forks, seat posts, handlebars, and stems.  In 1999 we designed a one piece Titanium stem and handlebar which is both extremely lightweight and very strong.


Tubing and Plates
Tubing (titanium alloy, diameter, wall thickness, heat treatment etc.) is chosen depending on the type and design of the frame. We never go for excess lightness in a frame  because we feel that extremely lightweight Titanium frames sacrifice ride quality and/or strength. From this point of view, we most often use Grade 9 (3% Al, 2.5% V) straight gauge tubing with 0.8-1.0 mm wall made in accordance ASTM standard and PT7M. We use straight gauge tubing, so that we may use the very best aircraft certified material from aircraft certified suppliers.  Dropouts are made of even stronger alloy Grade 5 (6% Al, 4%V) to make them virtually "unbendable" when you crash on the rear derailleur. These alloys come from one of the largest titanium production factory in the world.   For years, this factory remained hidden in a deep forest somewhere in Ural Mountains (VSMPO Russia). Now they supply titanium to the world leaders in the aircraft industry such as Boeing and Airbus, as well as to the space industry worldwide.
 

Machinery
In our factory we combine universal industrial machinery as well bicycle specific production machines specially produced for us by Bike Machinery (Columbus Group, Italy).  The machinery range includes turning, milling, and drilling operations, as well as a digital geometry quality control table for product inspection, numerous custom engineered assembly jigs, TIG argon welding machines, bead blasting cabinets, hydraulic presses, and bending jigs.  In addition we have our own vibration stand for in house product testing, and many, many specially developed and engineered tools that we designed ourselves.

 
Welding
Manufacturing starts with cutting the raw tubing to size and carefully cleaning and preparing the surface for the next stages in production. We put tubes on a pre-adjusted jig together with the CNC machined rear dropouts and other machined components (head tube, BB shell). After checking the geometry on the jig, all parts are tightly fixed, and the areas to be welded are cleaned again.

Now the frame is ready for tack welding. As the quality of welded titanium is extremely critical to impurities and oxygen, we use inert argon gas (highly purified argon – with up to 99.995% purity). Every one of our highly-qualified craftsmen welders follow specially developed technology to achieve the absolute highest quality of welding. The tack welded frame is taken off the jig and its geometry is checked on control table. After that, final welding is done.  We use two pass welding technique which insures a super durable and attractive weld.
 

Quality Control and Finishing
Once welded, the frame is placed again on the quality control table to be checked carefully.  More than 20 dimensions are carefully inspected.    Final machining is performed after the frame or component has passed inspection.   Internal cutting and facing of the head tube, as well as threading and facing bottom bracket shell is performed using the bicycle specific production machinery.  We always perform these operations after welding because titanium is rather sensitive to heat treatment, and this insures proper alignment and dimension of these close tolerance features. In order to match perfectly an aluminum or carbon seat post with seat tube we always press a 100-mm long aluminum insert into the seat tube and ream it to size after welding.

The following finishes are available in custom items:
natural titanium color, high polish, satin and custom painting depending on a customer's request.
 
Material
We understand that the frame's material, its alloy composition, and its alloy characteristics are of the highest importance for its lightness, strength, durability, and ride quality.

In order to understand clearly Titanium’s advantages, let's compare it with other widely used and well known materials. Titanium weighs 65% more than aluminum and about 45% lighter than steel (Ti's density is about 4500 kg per cubic meter). However, since high-strength Titanium alloys match or exceed the ultimate and yield strengths of all but the strongest super alloy steels, they demonstrate unmatched specific strength.  Titanium also resists fatigue extremely well, even better than steel, and has exceptional corrosion resistance. These features have made titanium very popular in aircraft building and the aerospace industry - 10% of the Boeing 747 airframe is made of titanium and the military spy fighter SR71 "Blackbird" is 93% titanium! Besides, being corrosion-free, titanium has found wide application in aggressive chemical reactors and medicine, as tools and bone implants.
Motorsports, too, has made use of Titanium: suspension links, front suspension rocker arms, entire exhaust system, and other extremely loaded parts and joints are made from Titanium. Formula 1 cars as well as Porsche race cars use Titanium for springs, axles, fasteners and many other applications where a high strength to weight ratio is required.

So, Titanium is a strong, light and corrosion-free material. But why is it so expensive? First of all, it requires very precise technology to get the finished product (alloyed bars, sheets, tubing, etc) from raw material.   A lot of energy and vacuum are needed to avoid contamination during treatment.  It is also difficult to machine, and only the most skilled and experienced welders and equipment can yield consistent and strong welds in production.  Titanium can be welded only in and inert gas environment of high purity.  It’s also critical that the joints are correctly fitted and cleaned. Welding technology (normally, TIG welding in argon) must be strictly observed and controlled in order to avoid overheating and impurities that may lead to loosing the most advantageous features of the material.

Basic mechanical properties of the most popular titanium alloys are presented in the Table compared with other materials used in bicycle production.

Material

Alloy

Density
kg/cub.m

Ultimate tensile
strength, KSI

Ultimate yield
strength, KSI

Elongation, %

Titanium

3Al2.5V
(Grade 9)

4500

132,000

115,000

15

6Al4V
(Grade 5)

4500

134,000

45,000

10

Aluminum

7075-T6

2700

82,000

73,300

5

6061-T6

2700

45,000

39,900

5


 
Please have a look around the site.  We’ve provided high resolution photos so you can see the products as clearly as possible.  If you want truly innovative and functional product and you have some questions, please contact us directly:    info@C3Titanium.com