How long does it take to weld a frame?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How long does it take to weld a frame?

    This question is more for the experienced framebuilders than the amateurs.

    I am referring to TIG welding a good heat treated 4130 frameset. I want to know how long it takes an experienced welder just to do the welding on a typical hardtail frameset. Assume that the frame fixture is already set up, the tubes are mitered properly, cleaned and prepped.

    If you were in a production environment, and expected only to weld frames, how long would it take to weld one? How many could you weld in a day? I am not talking about a nasty sweat shop kind of pace, but a reasonable production volume that could produce good quality frames.
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  2. #2
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    Half an hour

    Being reasonably careful, I'd say it takes me about half an hour. Of course, I don't weld the entire thing at once (I do the front triangle, then chainstays/bb/dropouts, then seatstays, then little stuff) so there's some additional setup time for the stopping/restarting. But half an hour is about right. One of the fastest and easiest parts of building the frame, really.

    If you were working with thicker/cheaper material, spent all day every day doing it, and had a really nice welding fixture, I imagine 15 minutes or less would be easily doable.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by disease
    This question is more for the experienced framebuilders than the amateurs.

    I am referring to TIG welding a good heat treated 4130 frameset. I want to know how long it takes an experienced welder just to do the welding on a typical hardtail frameset. Assume that the frame fixture is already set up, the tubes are mitered properly, cleaned and prepped.

    If you were in a production environment, and expected only to weld frames, how long would it take to weld one? How many could you weld in a day? I am not talking about a nasty sweat shop kind of pace, but a reasonable production volume that could produce good quality frames.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt
    Being reasonably careful, I'd say it takes me about half an hour. Of course, I don't weld the entire thing at once (I do the front triangle, then chainstays/bb/dropouts, then seatstays, then little stuff) so there's some additional setup time for the stopping/restarting. But half an hour is about right. One of the fastest and easiest parts of building the frame, really.

    If you were working with thicker/cheaper material, spent all day every day doing it, and had a really nice welding fixture, I imagine 15 minutes or less would be easily doable.

    -Walt
    Is that typical for framebuilders or are you particularly fast?

    Half an hour includes the details such as the cable mounts and bottlecage mounts?

    I don't know(because I am not a framebuilder) what role the fixture plays in the welding time. I can imagine that accessibility to the tube junctions is the most critical factor.

    It seems that if you wanted to do small production batches rather than pure custom work you could crank out steel frames fairly economically, even with good quality tubing. Have you ever considered this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by disease
    Is that typical for framebuilders or are you particularly fast?

    Half an hour includes the details such as the cable mounts and bottlecage mounts?

    I don't know(because I am not a framebuilder) what role the fixture plays in the welding time. I can imagine that accessibility to the tube junctions is the most critical factor.

    It seems that if you wanted to do small production batches rather than pure custom work you could crank out steel frames fairly economically, even with good quality tubing. Have you ever considered this?
    Respectfully stating here, but not being a frame builder you may not realize just how little of a percentage of the build is actually "welding". Most steel fab in fact is maybe 10% welding and 90% fab time which includes among other things- handling , fitting, finishing, painting. Its not really a question that can tell you anything about building a bike. Most frames arent' welded in a fixture anyway, they are tacked and then carefully sequence welded to avoid distortion.
    In an automobile assembly line there may only be 9 total minutes welding for a complete car but it really does'nt give an accurate representation of the complete build time. I know its not a terribly good analogy but It came to mind.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by disease
    It seems that if you wanted to do small production batches rather than pure custom work you could crank out steel frames fairly economically, even with good quality tubing. Have you ever considered this?
    there was a recent thread that pretty much wrung the life out of this subject. A batch production setup is much faster than the processes most of us use. If you have the sales, I'm sure you can find people to build frames.

  6. #6
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    Not much time is welding.

    It takes a LOT longer than that to contact the customer, design, select tubes, order parts, cut/miter/deburr/clean/etc tubes, soak off flux, alignment checks, deal with powdercoating, prep, ship, do taxes, answer questions on MTBR (kidding) blah blah blah.

    So the 30 minutes (which I'd guess is about typical for an experienced TIG person, but I don't know) represents a tiny fraction of the building time, even if you excluded some of the tasks that aren't "construction" strictly speaking.

    I have done some production style work (and had to make fixtures and adapt processes a bit to do it) and I'm not that fast. A serious production environment would need multiple people doing all the tasks individually. I would suck at it by myself.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by disease
    Is that typical for framebuilders or are you particularly fast?

    Half an hour includes the details such as the cable mounts and bottlecage mounts?

    I don't know(because I am not a framebuilder) what role the fixture plays in the welding time. I can imagine that accessibility to the tube junctions is the most critical factor.

    It seems that if you wanted to do small production batches rather than pure custom work you could crank out steel frames fairly economically, even with good quality tubing. Have you ever considered this?

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