Tesla is closing in on a new, groundbreaking manufacturing technique, according to a new report. The process is similar to the company’s industry-disrupting casting technique that saw it eliminate many parts into several pieces. However, this takes efficient manufacturing a step further.
Tesla has used casting for a few years to streamline manufacturing, improve vehicle engineering and safety, and revolutionize how cars are built. The Model Y truly broke the barrier of how cars are made, and the numerous teardowns we saw of the all-electric crossover showed Tesla had made significant progress in its vehicle manufacturing techniques.
But a new report from Reuters takes it a step further. Citing “five people familiar with the move,” the report claims Tesla is looking to install even larger giga-casting machines that would have 16,000 tons or more of clamping power.
This would not only require new machines but also new factories that are large enough to house them.
The machines would be responsible for producing a single large frame that would combine the front and rear sections with a middle underbody, which is where the battery is housed.
This would also be the design that is used for the upcoming $25,000 model:
“The five people said a single large frame – combining the front and rear sections with the middle underbody where the battery is housed – could be used in Tesla’s small EV which it aims to launch with a price tag of $25,000 by the middle of the decade.”
In order to enable a fluid manufacturing process where molds can be slightly adjusted or tweaked during the design process, Tesla is looking to stay away from traditional techniques. Large casting structures have been seen as “prohibitive,” according to the report. Although they are efficient, the potential adjustments are too much of a risk.
So Tesla is thinking outside the box and turned to firms that can make the test molds out of materials that would allow for adjustments after they are built. These firms specialize in making molds out of industrial sand with 3D printers.
The biggest advantage is not the tweaking of prototypes because printing can be done in a matter of hours, it is the cost. It is only 3% of doing the same thing with a metal prototype.
Nevertheless, there are disadvantages as well. They may not offer the same crashworthiness that Tesla expects out of its vehicles, as aluminum alloys, which would be used in this new technique, behaved differently in sand and metal molds.
Casting specialists overcame this hurdle by fine-tuning the molten alloy cooling process and after-production heat treatment.
Tesla still has yet to make a final decision on this technique, according to the report. The big obstacle with this process is the fact that they need larger factories, which it is already in the process of doing with Mexico in the works, and potential factories in India also coming to the table.
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