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Welding the Superbike

ktm with sky
March 23, 2009

Austrian motorcycles and welding robots make lasting impression on NASA astronauts  

What do you get when you combine the most professional and elite category of motorcycles with the latest in welding technology? The answer: the Superbike.

According to the trade publication Welding Magazine , two Austrian firms have combined their expertise to automate welding of high-tech, lightweight steel for motor cycle frames. The high-end motorcycle manufacturer KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG selected the MagicWave 4000 welding system from Fronius to perform the automated welding of its KTM 1190 RC8 Superbike .

At the heart of the RC8 frame are sheet and tubing made from 25 CrMo4 steel, which places demands on welding due to its light weight, thinness and rigidity. Not only that, KTM´s new entry was designed to project a image of quality craftsmanship. That made TIG welding, which gives smooth, scalloped welds, a natural choice to meet KTM´s stringent standards. The problem is that TIG welding is much slower than the more common MIG welding, which looks more like melted wire with lumps and pockmarks. The answer was for Fronius to automate the TIG welding process for KTM. Now a welding robot has been working at a full three-shift capacity for over a year. It is producing a nearly perfect weld toe, according to Josef Baier, production manager at KTM.

If the image of robotic welding equipment isn’t futuristic enough, it should also be noted that NASA recently reported that the smell of space (or the lingering scent remaining on astronauts’ space suits) can be best compared with the smell of motorbike welding or grilled steak. According to the British publication the Sun
, scientists have not yet succeeded in replicating this space smell for training astronauts. Just send them to Austria.