Gigacasting: The hottest trend in car manufacturing
Gigacasting is all the rage in automotive manufacturing circles. And while Tesla has mainstreamed the term — involving enormous, high-pressure aluminum die casting machines that punch out vehicle chassis and bodies-in-white — the technology has largely caught on in mainland China. Now other automakers, including Toyota, are eyeing the process.
These massive gigacastings (also known as megacastings) carry huge initial startup costs, may have distortion issues in the metal, alter collision-repair capabilities, and require extensive end-of-line inspection scanning. And that is only after ordering a custom-built gargantuan piece of equipment, moving it into place, and figuring out how to efficiently work the temperamental processes. The cost-benefit analysis of gigacasting should be based on achieving a good-enough first-pass yield rate and maintaining a sufficient, yet not excessive, number of orders for the same part. When comparing gigacasting to conventional steel stamping or aluminum-stitching, S&P Global Mobility nonetheless assesses the unit price for a single-piece, gigacasted aluminum rear floor to be valid.
OEMs are looking towards gigacasting not as a component piece, but as a change to how their entire world functions. The reconfiguration of the dance played behind factory walls will forever change economies within automotive. Whether corner castings or single piece, whether gigacast or gigapress, a change to how vehicles come together is upon the industry. Nodal construction will replace linear, bottlenecks will arise and dissolve, and something altogether new will be born.
Highly automated manufacturing environment to enhance the customer’s production efficiency
Comau has implemented a high-performance turnkey solution to automate manufacturing of NIO’s next-generation electric drive systems. The multi-faceted project also ensures fast and reliable co-line production for the electric vehicle manufacturer’s third-gen induction and permanent magnet motors, both of which are integral parts of its proprietary electric drive systems (EDS). The comprehensive solution includes primary lines such as e-motor assembly lines, gearbox manufacturing and inverter assembly lines, as well as EOL (End of Line) testing processes. It is designed to support a large-scale annual production capacity of 1 million units, to be used within NIO’s electric sedans, coupes and SUVs, as well as select models of its sub-brand ALPS.