More and more automakers are wanting to utilise an innovative manufacturing method pioneered by Tesla.
Automotive News Europe reports that Italian casting specialist Idra has added Ford, Hyundai and an unspecified European carmaker – likely Volvo – to its customer base.
Tesla has pioneered the use of ‘giga-casting’ machines in automotive manufacturing. Idra currently supplies the machines to Tesla, which is using them to significantly streamline its production process.
The brand has reportedly lowered production costs by 30 per cent after introducing giga-casting techniques to its production lines in 2020.
Giga-casting is a production method which involves large die-casting machines to stamp out larger chassis components than previously possible.
Rather than casting numerous smaller parts of a chassis, drilling thousands of holes and spot-welding or bonding those pieces together, giga-casting can stamp out a large part of a chassis in one operation.
This is of high priority for mainstream automakers, as it allows them to increase production efficiency and speed, lower production costs and importantly for electric cars, lower kerb weights.
To achieve this, giga-casting machines press down on a unique aluminium alloyed plate. The machine can then exert 6000 to 9000 tons of force to stamp out the car body.
Automotive News Europe reports a Giga Press 6100 wearing Ford branding has been spotted testing at Idra’s Travagliato plant in northern Italy.
It’s reported the machine can exert a compressive force of roughly 6000 tons, and is headed for a research and development facility in Detroit, where Ford will test and benchmark the machine ahead of putting it in service.
An even larger Giga Press 9000 machine was also reportedly testing nearby, but devoid of any branding. This machine is reportedly heading to a Hyundai facility, again for research and development purposes.
As previously reported, Hyundai wants to implement ‘hyper casting’ as it works to transform its Korean factories.
A source close to Idra told Automotive News Europe the Italian company is close to signing a deal for two 9000 machines. The deal is said to involve a mystery “premium automaker in Europe”.
Sources told the publication that Volvo is the automaker in question, as it chases production solutions for its new plant in Eastern Europe.
Idra has reportedly signed orders for 25 presses, with 21 already sent out to customers that include ‘tier 1’ parts manufacturers.
Tesla has reportedly already received 14 presses, including two 9000 models for its new Cybertruck production plant in Austin, Texas.