In recent years, Tesla has been investing a lot of money and a lot of time in casting technologies that greatly helped speed up the manufacturing process of its electric cars. Dedicated R&D programs have been based on the development of new alloys that allow larger castings to be formed, that greatly simplify the assembly process.
But another fundamental part of this investment is the very machines that make it possible to actually carry out this complicated job. Idra, the Italian manufacturer with which Tesla has been working for years, has now just confirmed the shipment to Texas, USA, of the "Cybertruck Giga-Press" - the largest press in the world - which will be responsible for manufacturing the chassis of its electric pick-up.
Earlier this year Idra showed off a new 9,000-tonne press "that would take the prize as the world's largest". Taking into account Tesla's relationship with Idra, it was rumored that the new casting machine would have its destiny in the Austin manufacturer. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has already confirmed that the machine will be used for the Cybertruck body at the Texas Gigafactory.
Italian experts announced that the gigantic press is already going to Tesla's headquarters. This is one of the most critical pieces of manufacturing equipment needed to bring the Cybertruck into production: Tesla will use this huge machine to build the stainless steel body of the electric pick-up. In images shared by Idra on Linkedin - after a visit by the North American Die Casting Association last week - before the machine was packed, its dimensions and the preparations made for its transportation can be clearly seen.
Last week, Elon Musk also confirmed that Tesla is already setting up the Cybertruck production line in Austin; an announcement that gave new, fresh hopes to many of the reservation holders of this electric pick-up that are anxiously following its progress, after the repeated, continuous delays in the development program. Tesla has reiterated that it aims to start production in mid-2023; moreover, Musk indicated that he would be driving a Cybertruck Beta prototype in the coming weeks.
These Gigapress machines, whose cost is millionaire, are being already used by Tesla in several of its Gigafactories, as a matter of fact. The first was installed at the Fremont factory, began operations in 2020, and is capable of developing a clamping pressure of 5,600 to 6,200 tons. Thanks to these machines, Tesla is now able to produce the Model Y with a single-piece rear sub-frame, instead of the 70 required with previous procedures and machinery: a huge improvement, no doubt. With the new machines installed at the Austin Gigafactory in Texas, Tesla can build a Model Y with a single-piece front and rear sub-frame.
This procedure greatly simplifies the manufacturing process and at the same time reduces costs. Following the successful integration of this casting technology, several automakers are looking to follow in Tesla's footsteps. Idra reported last year that it is in talks with as many as half a dozen manufacturers who are planning to adopt the technology, though it could be years before they can actually integrate it into their vehicle production programs.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.