Rumors have recently emerged from China suggesting that Tesla is looking to tap Switzerland’s Bühler as another Giga Press supplier. Similar to IDRA, Bühler is also a manufacturer of large-scale die-casting machines.
The rumor was initially shared by Tesla and EV industry watcher Chris Zheng on Twitter. Citing information from employees of a Chinese car startup, Zheng noted that China would have a number of vehicles in mass production next year that will be using integrated die castings like the Tesla Model Y. These companies reportedly benchmark and analyze Tesla and its vehicles.
“Tesla’s Giga press supplier will be replaced from Italy’s IDRA to Switzerland’s Bühler next year. The latter is also one of the world’s 6 largest die-casting giants. It rejected Tesla’s demand for a 6000t-level Giga press in 2019, but now their products offer better performance,” Zheng wrote on Twitter.
This is undoubtedly a rumor for now, though it is one that is extremely interesting. Teslarati has reached out to Tesla for a comment on the rumor and will update this story if or when we receive a response.
While the idea of IDRA being replaced by Bühler may sound too extreme, it is possible that Tesla would tap the resources of another die casting machine maker for its upcoming vehicle production ramp. Bühler is an interesting choice nonetheless, especially since the company was one of the firms that rejected Tesla’s proposal for a 6,000-ton Giga Press a few years ago.
Elon Musk himself mentioned this during the Cyber Rodeo event. According to Musk, Tesla had approach the world’s six top die-casting machine makers, and all but IDRA considered the construction of a Giga Press. Tesla has since proven that Giga Presses work, however, so it’s not surprising to see other companies also trying their hand at creating Giga Press-level machines.
“It’s a revolution in car manufacturing to basically make a car out of three major parts — a cast rear, a structural pack, and a cast front. So what you’re looking at are the biggest casting machines ever made. It’s kind of crazy thing to make a car this way. It’s never been done before.
“When we were trying to figure this out, there were six major casting manufacturers in the world. We called six. Five said’ no,’ one said ‘maybe.’ I was like ‘that sounds like a yes.’ So with a lot of effort and great ideas from the team, we’ve made the world’s biggest casting machine work very efficiently to create and radically simplify the manufacturing of the car,” Musk said.
A look at Bühler’s official website shows that the company is also developing giant die-casting machines that offer the highest productivity.
“Automotive manufacturers are currently rethinking production in many ways. Our Carat series enables them to put their ideas of even larger parts into reality, and we support our customers in developing the processes to do so. We see a huge increase in the demand for ever larger machines. With our Carat 840 and Carat 920 we can offer our customers solutions for large structural parts with complex geometries and new body-in-white parts,” Cornel Mendler, Managing Director of Bühler Die Casting, said.
Bühler’s Carat 840 and Carat 920 machines feature locking forces of up to 92,000 kilonewtons (kN). They are also designed to produce as little scrap as possible. “Bühler’s vision for the future of the die casting industry is: 0% scrap, 40% less cycle time, and 24/7 uptime. Advancing further towards this vision is even more important: The larger the castings, the bigger the lever to minimize production costs by reducing scrap, cycle time and increasing uptime of the die-casting system. The design of the Carat 840 and Carat 920 positively impact the quality of these complex, thin-walled parts which require an extremely powerful and accurate injection unit and a homogenous locking force application,” the company wrote in a press release.
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