The Tesla Cybertruck is arguably the most noticeable vehicle in the world because of its unique-looking exterior. The electric vehicle company has recently put the world’s largest die casting machine into operation, signifying a further step towards the mass production of this peculiar car.
Tesla has been manufacturing the Model Y shells using single-piece castings. Previously, the castings were adopted for the rear part design only, but now the front and rear of the electric SUV are both made in single body pieces. Just one rear casting, for example, can replace more than 70 conventional parts, thereby helping the carmaker to make substantial cost and time savings.
To make massive metal bodies in one piece, Tesla partnered with Italian supplier Idra to develop a series of die casting machines, the Giga Press. Having been put into use since 2020, the giant machines—each weighing 400 tons—can create a clamping force of up to 61,000 kilonewtons with two 132-kW motors.
Tesla has acquired a new model, the Giga Press OL 9000 CS, boasting a clamping force of 90,500 kilonewtons. The 450-ton machine has been installed in the company’s factory in Texas with an aim to produce the body of the Cybertruck, an electric pickup truck.
The Tesla Cybertruck features a single-piece unpainted stainless steel body known as the “exoskeleton”. Specifically, the Giga Press will first melt metal blocks (e.g., iron, aluminum, silicon and magnesium blocks) in the furnace at 850°C, implement gas and SiC processing on them, inject the acquired liquid metals into the mold and subject them to high-pressure molding before robotic arms take out the finished casting. Finally, the casting undergoes x-ray and laser inspections, after which the entire process is completed.
▲ Exoskeleton of the Cybertruck (Credit: Tesla)
Currently, it takes only 90 seconds for Tesla to produce a Model Y casting, equaling to a production capacity of 40–45 units per hour. However, as the Cybertruck is bigger, cast production might cost more time. Ideally, the company’s Giga Texas is able to produce roughly 1,000 such vehicles every day.
When unveiling its Cybertruck in late 2019, Tesla indicated that a new manufacturing technology is required to develop the cutting-edge vehicle. It seems that the giant die casting machine is vital to the technology, with the 4680 battery cell being the other key.
Two major battery plants have launched trial production of the battery cell. Added with the Giga Press, Tesla’s mass production plan of the Cybertruck by 2023 is on the cards.
(Credit of the first photo: Idra Group)