The famous Gigapress, the casting machines that Tesla uses to manufacture the large parts that make up the Model Y chassis, are about to reach new, bigger levels. The new casting machine - the largest in the world - manufactured by the Italian company Idra for Tesla, will be responsible for creating the steel exoskeleton that makes up the chassis and part of the bodywork of the Cybertruck.
In recent years, Tesla has been investing a lot of money and a lot of time in foundry technologies that speed up the manufacturing process of its electric cars. Dedicated R&D programs have been based on the development of new alloys that would allow larger castings to be formed, which in turn greatly simplifies the assembly process; but another fundamental part of this investment is the machines that actually make it possible to carry out these jobs.
Tesla purchased several units of what at the time was the largest foundry machine in the world. The Gigapress, developed by Italian group Idra - at a very high cost - is already working for the Austin company. The first was installed at the Fremont factory and began operations back in 2020: it was the first of its kind at the time, capable of developing a clamping pressure of 55,000 to 61,000 kN.
Thanks to these machines, Tesla is now able to produce the Model Y with a single-piece rear sub-frame, instead of the 70 parts required with previous procedures and machinery. With the new machines installed at the Austin Gigafactory in Texas, Tesla can basically build a Model Y with a single-piece front and rear sub-frame.
During last week Idra has been testing at its facilities a new Gigapress, capable of developing more than 88,000 kN of pressure, and which by the way will be the largest machine of this type built to date in the world. During these tests it was rumored that this machine would be for the Austin manufacturer, given the existing commercial relationship between the two companies. The rumors have finally come true with the confirmation by Tesla CEO Elon Musk that this machine will be used for the Cybertruck ramp up production.
When the electric pick-up was officially presented in public, Musk's revelation of an innovative feature in the construction of this new electric vehicle was highly commented by the media: a stainless steel exoskeleton that would require a new level of casting ability. According to Tesla, “the Cybertruck is built with an outer shell developed to offer maximum durability and passenger protection. Starting with a nearly impenetrable exoskeleton, every component is designed for superior strength and toughness, from the Ultra-Hard 30X cold-rolled stainless steel structural bodywork to the all-glass armoring”, according to the info on its website.
At the beginning the company admitted that it would need to develop new manufacturing techniques in order to bring this vehicle into production; and sure enough, this giant new foundry machine is part of that plan. Now all that is needed is for Tesla to complete the development of its electric pick-up that was presented way back in 2019 and that actually should have already entered production. The company has been delaying its schedule by focusing on increasing Model Y manufacturing capacity. Tesla's latest announced date for the start of production is something as generic as the year 2023: this new machine could represent a sign that this time Tesla could finally meet this forecast.
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.