Ford, Hyundai follow Tesla’s lead, buy ‘gigapresses’ from casting machine maker IDRA

 A 9,000-ton gigapress at Idra’s factory. (Reuters)


TRAVAGLIATO, Italy — Idra, an Italian aluminum casting machine maker and Tesla supplier, has added Ford, Hyundai and a European company to its customer base as more carmakers explore this manufacturing technique.

Tesla has pioneered the use of massive casting machines, also known as “gigapresses,” to make large single pieces of vehicle underbodies, streamline production and reduce the work even of robots.

Front and rear underbodies cast by gigapresses are combined with battery packs to form a three-piece chassis for Tesla Model Y battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

A “gigapress 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.

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 group, adding both it and the one for Ford would 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. Volvo and Toyota are among the companies said to be exploring the process.

Six gigapresses are now emerging as the standard for an annual production of 500,000 vehicles, the source added.

IDRA has already shipped 14 presses to Tesla, including two 9,000s for Tesla’s large Cybertruck production at its Austin plant, Texas, according to sources and posts by Tesla on social media.

IDRA has so far signed orders for 25 presses, with 21 already produced and shipped, including to leading Tier 1 parts makers.


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