A Manufacturing Breakthrough to Shake Up the Entire Car-Making Business

We, as a society, have built our identity upon a versatile set of factors, but when push comes to shove, we know that none define us better than our commitment towards growing on a consistent basis. This willingness to improve, no matter the circumstances, has enabled the world to clock some huge milestones, with technology emerging as quite a major member of the group. The reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is, by and large, predicated upon its skill-set, which guided us towards a reality that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look beyond the surface for one hot second, it will become abundantly clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component, in fact, did a lot to give the creation a spectrum-wide presence, and as a result, initiated a full-blown tech revolution. Of course, the next thing this revolution did was to enhance the human experience through some outright unique avenues, but even after achieving a feat so notable, technology will somehow continue to bring forth the right goods. The same has turned more and more evident in recent times, and assuming one new discovery ends up with the desired impact, it will only put that trend on a higher pedestal moving forward.

Tesla has reportedly brought a series of innovations together to conceive a manufacturing method which can transform the way we make electric vehicles. Known as unboxed manufacturing strategy, this new technique is built upon an upgraded mold-making process where we will see 3D printing and industrial sand as the ultimate show-runners. Talk about molten; it has been a rather divisive concept for the automotive industry. You see, when creating molten metal molds, it can cost millions to make simple tweaks once the material is scaled up to the size of a vehicle. Enter Tesla’s latest brainchild, which leverages binder jet printers to deposit a liquid binding agent onto a thin layer of sand and gradually build a mold layer by layer that can die cast molten alloys. According to certain reports, the cost of the design validation process with sand casting, even with multiple versions, comes at just 3% of doing the same with a metal prototype. Another detail we must mention is how the design validation cycle using sand casting only takes two to three months, a timeline which is dramatically shorter than six months to a year asked by those metal prototypes. Now, as promising as the whole technique sounds, it didn’t come without its own set of challenges. Before we get there, though, it’s critical for you to know that the subframes  n a car underbody are typically hollow to save weight and improve crashworthiness. Tesla, in order to cast subframes with hollows as part of one gigacasting, placed solid sand cores printed by the binder jets within the overall mold. After that, it eliminated sand so to leave the voids. This birthed greater flexibility throughout the design process, but at the same time, the aluminum alloys used in producing the castings were found to behave differently across sand and metal molds. As a ripple effect, they failed to meet Tesla’s criteria for crashworthiness and other attributes. Fortunately enough, Tesla overcame that hurdle by effectively creating special alloys. Here, the company fine-tuned the molten alloy cooling process, and simultaneously extended an after-production heat treatment.

The next challenge Tesla must find a way through now is getting more powerful “gigapresses” at substantially larger sizes than the ones it has in use right now. Also, considering the 3D-printed sand core technique might not work at a high pressure, it’s important for the Elon Musk-owned automotive giant to find an alternative. At present, slowing molten alloy injection to accommodate the sand cores is on the table, but it carries the potential of slowing down the entire manufacturing process.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has given us a major manufacturing breakthrough. The company is also responsible for developing a method which involved using huge presses boasting almost 6,000 to 9,000 tons of clamping pressure that could mold front and rear structures of the vehicle in a “gigacasting” process now well-known for slashing production costs

Copyrights © 2024. All Right Reserved. Engineers Outlook.