Tesla has pioneered the use of massive casting machines to make large single pieces of vehicle underbodies.
In TRAVAGLIATO, Italy, Idra, an Italian company specializing in aluminum casting machines and a supplier to Tesla Inc., has expanded its clientele to include Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., and another European firm. This shift comes as more automakers are exploring the utilization of this manufacturing technique.
Tesla has been a trailblazer in employing colossal casting machines, commonly referred to as 'Giga Presses,' to craft large, singular pieces for vehicle underbodies. This innovation has streamlined production processes and lessened the workload even for robots.
The front and rear underbodies, cast by these Giga Presses, are integrated with battery packs to create a three-part chassis for battery electric vehicles.
A 'Giga Press 6,100,' which produces a clamping force of over 6,000 tons, with the Ford brand printed on it, had been assembled and was being tested in Idra's plant in Travalgiato, near Brescia, northern Italy during an industry event organized by the company on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The machine will be installed in an R&D facility in the Detroit and used for testing and benchmarking ahead of introducing the presses for production vehicles.
An even bigger press, the 9,000, Idra's largest and newest model -- the size of a small house or a tennis court -- was being tested nearby but without the client's name printed on it. A source close to the matter, however, said it would be shipped to Hyundai, adding that it would also initially be used only for R&D purposes.
The source said Idra was also about to sign a supply contract for two 9,000 presses with a premium automaker in Europe, its first with a European group. Sources said Volvo has purchased two Idra Giga Presses for their new plant in eastern Europe.
The industry standard for an annual production of 500,000 vehicles now calls for six Giga Presses, according to the insider.
Sources, along with Tesla's social media posts, indicate that Idra has delivered a total of 14 presses to Tesla, including two 9,000-ton presses specifically for the extensive Cybertruck production at the Austin plant in Texas.
Idra has secured orders for 25 presses thus far, with 21 of them already manufactured and dispatched, including deliveries to prominent 'Tier 1' parts manufacturers.