The Real Reason Tesla Developed The Giga Press!

The Real Reason Tesla Developed The Giga Press!

Let’s talk about the gigapress
this is essentially tesla’s current
secret weapon for electric vehicle
manufacturing superiority
there is an entirely new way to make the
core structure of an automobile it’s a
technology that didn’t even exist until
the year 2020 and so far it has been
exclusively wielded by tesla in their
quest to refine the manufacturing
process of their best-selling vehicle
the model y
at its heart the gigapress is a die
casting machine which is not a new or
unique process
casting has been a staple in automotive
manufacturing throughout the entire
history of the industry
the casting process is used to form
critical components like the engine
block and the transmission casings but
casting has never been implemented for a
large structural section of the vehicle
frame
luckily some very smart people at an
italian die casting machine producer
called idra made the connection that
engine blocks and cylinder heads would
no longer be required vehicle components
in 10 years from now when electric
motors and batteries will dominate
so if the company was to stay relevant
and remain on the cutting edge of their
industry then they would need to push
the technology further than ever before
they had to go bigger
to take casting to the giga scale
and that is where the very smart people
at idra linked up with the very smart
people at tesla and the gigapress was
born and here is why that’s such a big
deal
one of the coolest things about the
gigapress is the collaboration between
two very cool companies who are
relentlessly committed to innovation
the idra group was founded in italy in
1946 and has basically set the standard
for die-casting technology in europe in
2008 the company was strategically
acquired by lk technology in hong kong
but idris still operates designs and
manufactures their product out of italy
there’s a bit of conflicting stories
around how the gigapress idea came to be
elon musk says that he called the six
largest casting machine manufacturers in
the world and asked them if they could
build a machine large enough to allow
tesla to cast their vehicle frames in
one single shot
according to elon five of those
companies said no and one said maybe
according to ricardo ferrario the
general manager of the idra group the
idea came to him in a dream and he woke
up with the mission to create the
world’s largest casting machine
both are pretty good stories there’s
always some selective memory going on
with these kinds of things and the two
leaders are actually very similar
ricardo is a boss he takes his mission
statement from the legendary italian
formula one driver mario andretti who
said if everything seems under control
you’re not going fast enough the
gigapress was his opportunity to step on
the accelerator ricardo is a proper
italian so he wanted his product to be
the most powerful the most efficient the
most sustainable casting machine ever
built but he also wanted it to look
beautiful and that’s why idra goes to
the extra length to color the giant
components of the gigapress and add
those pops of bright red to give it that
unique stylized look
ricardo said he wanted to make the
ferrari of casting machines something
that would be instantly recognizable and
iconic
and i’d say he’s done it
the reason it’s so hard to scale up a
technique like casting is because it’s a
very finely balanced thermodynamic
process that is done under very high
levels of pressure molten aluminum is
pressed into a dye mold at high speed
and that liquid metal has to fill the
mold perfectly and evenly before cooling
into a singular strong component
the larger and more complex the mold the
further the metal has to travel and the
greater the chance that something will
go wrong if they press too fast there
will be bubbles in the metal and the
structure will be ruined if they press
too slowly then the metal will cool
before the dye is filled and the part
will be incomplete and uneven this is
all contained in one
giant machine that is basically the size
of a small house
there is a melting oven where solid
aluminum is liquefied at a temperature
of 850 degrees celsius or 1600
fahrenheit then the mixture is purified
by removing the slag or aluminum oxide
from the top the molten aluminum is then
held in a warming oven at 750 degrees
celsius where it’s treated with argon
gas to remove impurities and moved
through a silicon carbide filter to
remove any particles larger than 25
micrometers
the dye mold is prepared with a thin
coating of soybean oil just like
greasing your baking pan and then a
vacuum is used to remove air from inside
the mold
the metal is pumped in and the casting
is formed the clamp releases the two
halves of the mold and a robot picks up
the casted section which has now cooled
to 400 degrees celsius or 750 fahrenheit
then the part goes into a water bath to
bring down to a reasonable temperature
finally the excess material is trimmed
from the casting and it is x-ray checked
for quality the energy required to push
all of the hot metal through the mold
then creates a large amount of pressure
to build up inside and that pressure
will try to push the two halves of the
mold apart as it is filling up so one of
the primary functions of the casting
machine is to hold the dime mold
together under those extreme pressures
that’s how we measure the strength of a
casting machine by the amount of
clamping force it can exert on the die
to keep it in one piece if that die were
to break apart during the casting then
molten aluminum would probably squirt
everywhere it would be a disaster the
largest amount of clamping force from a
traditional casting machine is 4 000
metric tons of pressure
idra have produced machines of this
caliber for a while and we can actually
see the full spec sheet on one of those
which has some interesting details so
the clamping force is rated at 4 000
metric tons and the other interesting
numbers are the maximum injection stroke
that’s the distance the plunger travels
as it injects the hot metal into the die
in this case it’s 1272 millimeters or 54
inches and the maximum injection force
which is 241 metric tons so the force of
the plunger that injects the metal is
nowhere near as strong as the clamping
force that holds the two halves of the
die together i think a lot of people get
this wrong i definitely have gotten it
wrong in the past
so a 6 000 ton casting machine does not
use 6 000 tons of force to push the
metal into the mold nowhere near that
actually the 6 000 tons of force is what
contains the metal inside the mold as
it’s being injected
and that is the level that the first
idra gigapress was able to reach
6 000 tons of clamping force a 50
increase over their previous best
this allowed tesla to cast the entire
front and rear sections of their model y
frame
so basically the entire frame from the
driver’s feet forward is one single
casting and the entire frame from the
backseat passengers feet backward is one
single casting
in between is a new battery pack that is
designed to act as its own structural
component thanks to much bigger and
stronger battery cells idra has since
ramped up their gigapress to as much as
8009
thousand metric tons of clamping force
the nine thousand ton gigapress will be
making its way to tesla’s gigafactory in
austin texas where it will cast the rear
underbody frame for the cyber truck so
why would anyone want to go through all
of the trouble of using a gigantic super
powered casting machine to build their
vehicle frame
there are many reasons but they can all
be summed up by just saying efficiency
there is no substitute in manufacturing
for the efficiency of casting your
typical vehicle frame will be made up of
stamped components stamping is much more
simple than casting it’s basically just
what it sounds like they take a flat
sheet of metal and they stamp down on it
with a very specifically shaped tool and
that forms the metal into a part then
you take a few dozen of those stamped
parts and you start welding and riveting
and even gluing them together to create
the frame it’s quite a production
so the gigapress cuts that all down to
one giant machine using one high-powered
action to create the same end product
except better and more consistent
because every time you bond two pieces
together you create a potential point of
failure and a potential for a mistake
elon musk said in an interview that
replacing the rear underbody assembly on
the model y with a single casting
allowed tesla to go from making 70 small
parts to one giant part eliminating 300
robots and reducing the required body
shop space by 30 percent
and by implementing the front casting
that saved another 300 robots and
another 30 percent of the space in the
body shop
so when tesla built out their new
production lines at the latest
gigafactories in austin texas and berlin
germany they saved installing 600 robots
by instead using four gigapresses and
that allowed them to operate the entire
production line in a significantly
reduced footprint
this means faster production times and
lower costs and we can see this
reflected in the company’s financial
results
tesla’s gross margin per vehicle in q1
2022 was a staggering
32.9 percent
for any vehicle product this is
outstanding but for an electric vehicle
this is just flat out insane
earlier this year ford motors admitted
that they don’t make any money from
selling the electric mustang machi in
fact they probably take a loss on most
sales
tesla’s net profit for the fiscal year
2021 was up to 3.3 billion u.s dollars
that’s just slightly behind toyota who
made 3.93 billion dollars
toyota sold nearly 10 million cars in
2021
tesla sold just under 1 million we can
also look at a metric called cash
conversion cycle this is essentially the
time that it takes the company to turn
cash into a vehicle and then convert it
back into cash so from expense to
product to profit tesla’s cash
conversion cycle for 2021 was negative
15 days
which basically means that inventory is
sold before you even need to pay for it
by comparison toyota had a cash
conversion cycle in 2021 of 31 days and
a competitor like volkswagen was back at
74 days so point being that tesla do
things differently and they profit
massively that’s probably not an
accident and game changer innovations
like the gigapress is what keeps them at
the top of their league hopefully you
learned something today about tesla idra
or the gigapress let us know in the
comments section below what you think
tesla might try and cast next
will they ever do an entire vehicle in
one shot don’t forget to give this video
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