General Motors has announced that they have acquired Tesla’s Gigacasting supplier TEI (Tooling & Equipment International) which uses 3D printing to streamline EV production.
TEI is Tesla’s EV development and production streamlining process which produced gigacastings for Tesla EVs. With this $80-100 million acquisition, gigacastings are made available to other companies.
TEI is known to combine sand casting with 3D printing technology to produce large one-piece automotive castings. It combines the car’s subframes and platform to create a single continuous piece. Later on, other car components are added to the body casting to make the complete vehicle structure.
Earlier this year, we talked about how Tesla is mixing 3D printing and sand casting techniques to make 3D printed sand cores which can be fitted into hollow subframes.
Tesla calls this large car body casting as gigacastings while GM is calling them megacastings.
This 3D printing-enabled technique helps in rapid prototyping and reduces production costs as the EV development cycle is halved from 3-4 years to 1.5-2.0 years. With the help of TEI, Tesla rapidly manufactured its Tesla Semi, Cybertruck, Model Y and Model 3.
Now, GM wants to cash in on TEI’s sandcasting methods to enhance the production of the GM EV flagship Cadillac Celestiq which has a starting MSRP of $340,000. With the help of TEI, six castings have been supplied to Cadillac Celestiq including shock towers and the underbody of the EV which reduced components assembly by 180-250 parts
Earlier in 2023, the American Foundry Society recognized Celestiq megacasting as the Casting of the Year.
According to GM, having TEI as their subsidiary gives them “a competitive advantage with strategic castings for future low volume products like the Cadillac Celestiq”. The company is building a new production line for Celestiq at Livonia, Michigan.
However, this is a setback for Tesla which has lost its primary sandcasting supplier as they are trying to mass-produce affordable EVs at a starting price of $25,000. The Elon Musk company has to rely on German, Japanese or British companies for its castings in the absence of a domestic partner.
Although TEI is operating separately it will be under the General’s Global Manufacturing division.
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