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Automobile Manufacturing, all the new EV's, how is the tooling made?

laminar-flow

Stainless
Joined
Jan 26, 2003
Location
Pacific Northwest
We see the large presses stamp all sorts of sheet metal parts for automobiles on videos and books. But I was wondering, how are all the tooling made? The top and bottom forms, the modeling to get it the right shape after it springs back, what steel are they made from, etc.

I can understand how the established car makers already have the presses and knowledge, but what about the number of new companies that have started making electric vehicles? I'm not just talking about body panels but also the heavier parts like the unibody parts. It just seems like there are so many presses to acquire and tooling to make that starting a new auto company would be a major undertaking.

I thought PM would be the best place to ask.
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
My wife's electric BMW i3, admittedly, at 5 years old, a pretty ancient design, has a die cast aluminum subframe, with welded aluminum rails for the battery cage. On top of that is a carbon fiber body housing, topped with plastic body panels. Virtually no presses died in the making of this car.

Teslas have more steel, but mostly pretty small rails and frame parts that are then assembled into the cage of the body, which is then covered with a mix of plastic, aluminum, and some steel body panels.Robotic welders have long since replaced big heavy expensive stampings.

In general, we arent seeing unibody's in the traditional sense.
In most cars in general these days, we see a trend towards body cages that are made up of smaller components, sometimes even glued together, and lighter body panels of aluminum and plastic.
Meaning much less reliance on giant presses, huge press dies, and tool and die makers.

Tesla does have these things called GigaPresses, but they are not the same as the old auto plant presses- much more focused on automation. And its a die casting machine, not a real press at all- it melts aluminum and casts the frame parts, so the tooling is smaller and lighter than gigantic 4 post press dies would be. https://youtu.be/Gr4S0QlGVwQ
Giga Press - Wikipedia

As long ago as 2015, the F150 was pretty much entirely converted to lightweight aluminum stampings.
https://www.metalformingmagazine.co...rming-technology-at-the-core-of-the-new-f-150
Even the frame has a lot more rollformed parts.

Remember also, a lot of this stuff- big stampings, roll forming, carbon fiber work- goes to subs, and has for maybe 40 or 50 years now. Subs that will sell to other car companies as well.
 

D Nelson

Stainless
Joined
Jan 7, 2015
Location
Missouri Ida
There are stamping houses all across this country. As the electric ramps up the old dies off and the stamping house just migrate over to whatever pays the bills. As for the engineering staff they do just like Tesla did they steal the employees from the big manufacturers and that is basically how I have seen. For die design there is independent designers to do strip layouts and die designs after that the work is sent out to die shops to be cut
Don


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

SteelrFn

Stainless
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
We see the large presses stamp all sorts of sheet metal parts for automobiles on videos and books. But I was wondering, how are all the tooling made? The top and bottom forms, the modeling to get it the right shape after it springs back, what steel are they made from, etc.

I can understand how the established car makers already have the presses and knowledge, but what about the number of new companies that have started making electric vehicles? I'm not just talking about body panels but also the heavier parts like the unibody parts. It just seems like there are so many presses to acquire and tooling to make that starting a new auto company would be a major undertaking.

I thought PM would be the best place to ask.

For metal stamping dies, they are made of tool steels, the die sections and forms usually of D2 and punches of A2, strippers and other things are usually made up of 1040 or something similar
Most of the Die sections, punches and forms these days are processed with CNC and EDM, Die sets (Die Shoes top and bottom) are usually purchased separately with the posts already installed. The posts are what all the dowel holes are placed off of according to the print, there are all kinds of die types and each are differently built depending on the type. e.g. most progressive dies require rails to guide the strip through as Transfer dies do not. Hope that helps
 

barbter

Diamond
Joined
Oct 27, 2007
Location
On Tour...
Interesting question and highlights the real geniuses of production.
We often hear the names of the famous "designers", but it's the poor old production engineers which have to take some free flowing complex waveform shape, and turn it into manufacturability. AND at a profit....
:D
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
I told you know who about this thread, this one should make him shine, right? I have even posted the link for him a couple times. I will bet anyone a steak and lobster dinner he doesn't come in here and display knowledge.
 

kustomizingkid

Titanium
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Location
Minnesota
Just because you give something a wizbang gigatron futurfuck name doesn't change the fact that fundamentally casting, stamping and plastic mold injection tech is all the same.
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
Just because you give something a wizbang gigatron futurfuck name doesn't change the fact that fundamentally casting, stamping and plastic mold injection tech is all the same.

did you watch the vid about the gigapress?
Certainly, you are right about the name- its not a press at all, and I doubt there are a gig of anything in its construction.
But- its a really slick self contained die casting system, which melts the aluminum, casts a near net part, and is completely automatic.
Its a far cry from sweaty guys in wife beaters loading big pieces of steel into a 5000 ton press to stamp a roof for a chrysler.

This is definitely not the same tech as the Studebaker factory my dad worked in for a summer in 1948.
https://youtu.be/1l3mmD_zYFw
 

Big B

Diamond
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Location
Michigan, USA
I told you know who about this thread, this one should make him shine, right? I have even posted the link for him a couple times. I will bet anyone a steak and lobster dinner he doesn't come in here and display knowledge.

Jesus H Christ. Can't you find something better to do that troll me and invite me to fist fight you? In case anyone on this entire forum missed it, this is the PM that citizenf16 sent me a while back inviting me to fist fight him. And I'll post a picture of a bottle of cheap vodka that he posted too. He keeps it in his shop so he doesn't have to wait for quitting time.

First the fight invite: 01-20-2022, 09:15 PMCITIZEN F16 CITIZEN F16 is online now
Titanium
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Default Where can we meet up.
I am looking forward to you insulting me to my face, like you do hiding behind a keyboard. I am long past my prime, but I still can throw a good jab, and have a high tolerance to pain. Let us meet.

You probably don't know it but an auto plant that makes knobs for radios or engine blocks don't usually also stamp fenders and chassis and the ones that stamp chassis don't usually put them together. Assembly plants do that. GM had lot of plants that made dies that stamped all of the parts to build cars. If my memory serves me right it was in the 80's that they decided it would be better to have just a few plants that made the majority of the dies. It seems like the term that was used was "tooling centers" and I've toured a few of them.

I've been retired for a while now and haven't really kept up with the business like I used to when I was working but the last I knew more and more of the tooling was getting farmed out to smaller shops. I'm not talking hobby shops but one of them that I've been in has a hundred employees or so and can pretty much do any kind of work. They have huge machines and people that know how to run them.

And I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert here, just fulfilling your request to share my knowledge of this posts topic of discussion before you came along and trolled me.


And here's his favorite shop tool:
 

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dalmatiangirl61

Titanium
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
Ford has a stamping facility in Nuevo Laredo Mexico, one of my neighbors in Tx used to supply them with pecan wood tiles, it soaks up the oil and keeps the parts from getting scratched as they would on concrete floors. They also do the frames for Ford trucks, the rail cars pass thru San Marcos daily with flat bed loads of truck frames headed to ???
 

Big B

Diamond
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Location
Michigan, USA
We see the large presses stamp all sorts of sheet metal parts for automobiles on videos and books. But I was wondering, how are all the tooling made? The top and bottom forms, the modeling to get it the right shape after it springs back, what steel are they made from, etc.

I can understand how the established car makers already have the presses and knowledge, but what about the number of new companies that have started making electric vehicles? I'm not just talking about body panels but also the heavier parts like the unibody parts. It just seems like there are so many presses to acquire and tooling to make that starting a new auto company would be a major undertaking.

I thought PM would be the best place to ask.

The short answer is the new companies hire people away from companies that are already building vehicles and add to that by hiring others. Get a design together and start looking for a shops to build your prototypes. If it all goes well and you have deep enough pockets you start buying real estate to build assembly plants on and have subcontractors build most of the parts. When/if production supports it you can start bringing work in house so you aren't relying on subcontractors to make your parts. At least that's how I envision it but I've been away from working in the auto industry long enough that my knowledge base is a little dated.

Saying it is a major undertaking is an understatement. It seems like 3D printing has probably helped get the cost of some prototypes down a lot from the old days when everything needed prototype dies built.

This should be an interesting thread.
 

kustomizingkid

Titanium
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Location
Minnesota
did you watch the vid about the gigapress?
Certainly, you are right about the name- its not a press at all, and I doubt there are a gig of anything in its construction.
But- its a really slick self contained die casting system, which melts the aluminum, casts a near net part, and is completely automatic.
Its a far cry from sweaty guys in wife beaters loading big pieces of steel into a 5000 ton press to stamp a roof for a chrysler.

This is definitely not the same tech as the Studebaker factory my dad worked in for a summer in 1948.
https://youtu.be/1l3mmD_zYFw

Very familiar and yes absolutely its a better, more advanced method of doing the same old stuff. But that was my point, manufacturing tech is thousands of incremental improvements. Thinking that EV's have taken some massive leap forward from a manufacturing stand point is incorrect, especially from the chassis/structural stand point. I have been a mechanic for 10 years and have worked on cars spanning a hundred years, its a very much incremental things. Cars have also constantly become more homogenous as time has gone on.
 

Bill D

Diamond
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Modesto, CA USA
I did see that tear down analysis of a Tesla. I remember they said the rear internal fender was like 8-12 separate pieces welded together. A real car would be 1-3 pieces.
Bill D
 

standardparts

Diamond
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
I remember well when the word "Maquiladora" became the buzz word in our industry and we didn't like hearing it because it meant many of the jobs that were being done in the US were going away and it did come to pass.

Cheap labor. Really cheap labor. Lax environmental laws. No unions. U.S. Gov't sanctioned and union approved.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
I did see that tear down analysis of a Tesla. I remember they said the rear internal fender was like 8-12 separate pieces welded together. A real car would be 1-3 pieces.
Bill D

A real car eh? LMAO. I watched all the videos and did my research. I took home a Tesla for a weekend test drive. Ran the piss out of it. Tried to find something about it I didn't like. It's been a year sine I took delivery of the Tesla model Y I bought. It's a great car. Way better value than any other commuter vehicle on the market. I could sell the car today for 150% of what I paid for it. People love them. Even people who think the idea of electric cars is stupid can't help but like them after a test drive.

Call Tesla. Setup a test drive. Take the car out and hammer on it. Take it home and disassemble it to see how it's built. Whatever you do don't just ASSume that Tesla makes an inferior product because it's different.
 

standardparts

Diamond
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
Question regarding stamping in the auto industry.

Do all the majors have "go to" companies that service the auto industry as far as press operations and stamping goes?
Not the production of parts but "go to" people who handle die and fixture design and supply?

Way...Back...When....There were places like RWC and Gilman for body assembly equipment always figured there was the same support for stamping.
 

Thunderjet

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 24, 2019
Ford has a stamping facility in Nuevo Laredo Mexico, one of my neighbors in Tx used to supply them with pecan wood tiles, it soaks up the oil and keeps the parts from getting scratched as they would on concrete floors. They also do the frames for Ford trucks, the rail cars pass thru San Marcos daily with flat bed loads of truck frames headed to ???

If they are for F-150s they're headed for KCMO.

Almost as many Hispanic folks as in the Mexico location.
 

Thunderjet

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 24, 2019
Saying it is a major undertaking is an understatement. It seems like 3D printing has probably helped get the cost of some prototypes down a lot from the old days when everything needed prototype dies built.

Captain Obvious........table for one.

I've worked in the prototype/Stamping die industry for 35 years. I served my apprenticeship in a prototype shop in northwestern Ohio.(mostly automotive shit)

Most of the pieces were "prototyped" with down and dirty press break, and existing tooling that was modified for the required part. Most of this was able to be done very quickly. And, YES we used drill presses and milling machines to modify shit all the time.

We usually ate the cost of these projects, because we knew that our shop would be at the head of the list of places to build the actual dies for the real project. (Of which I built many)

This is where I learned to design dies in my head, BEFORE I was given the chance to actually do it on a drafting table. (later on Autocad).

The industry has moved on to new ways of making things. I'm good with that and enjoy my new position of designing and building dies, testing equipment, and tooling for the aerospace industry.
 








 
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