Tesla's Giga Press, the largest casting machine ever made, debuted in Fremont California in 2020. This immense apparatus can produce the entire aluminum rear body of the Tesla Model Y as a single piece. This revolution in casting technology underscores Tesla's own commitment to aluminum as a material of choice and reinforces the overall relevance of soft alloys in the lightweight, energy efficient transportation vehicles of the future.

REMINC has long recognized the cost-savings potential and manufacturing efficiencies that light alloys can deliver to automotive manufacturers. In view of the recent Giga Press hype, consider this government study conducted back in March 2012. At that time, the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) performed extensive testing of thread-forming fasteners driven into light-alloy castings with pre-cored holes.

The test, as made public in the report titled Machining Elimination through Application of Thread Forming Fasteners in Net Shaped Cast Holes, determined whether cost-savings in light-alloy castings could be achieved as had been done for many years with thread-forming fasteners being driven into unthreaded steel nut members. The report concluded that this recommended thread-rolling fastener application would generate significant cost-savings for automotive manufacturers.

In the USCAR test, thread-rolling screws and bolts were driven into light-alloy castings which had unthreaded pre-cored holes. The tests confirmed that drilling, reaming, tapping, gaging, cooling, and cleaning operations could be eliminated. In addition, their respective capital-intensive machining and gaging equipment stations on the assembly line would no longer be necessary. In these tests the assembled joints in light-alloy material had clamp load values consistent with industry expectations for steel nuts and bolts.

Several other positive results of driving thread-rolling fasteners into pre-cored net shape holes were determined to be:

  • US $.07-$.09 cost savings per fastener driven
  • Significant reduction in electrical energy required to power unnecessary machines
  • Elimination of all lubrication fluids and solvent washes necessary to the drilling/tapping process
  • A shorter length assembly line footprint
  • Less capital investment in plant and equipment.

The 2012 USCAR report concluded that if this application were universally adopted in North America, with its estimated car build of 16 million vehicles, 500 fasteners per vehicle, and a savings of US $.08 average per fastener, the total net cost-savings would total US $640 million per year for automotive manufacturers. In 2020 US dollars, this number would be even higher.

How much will thread-rolling fasteners improve the cost and efficiency of your production processes?

Read the complete report here:

United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR) Project No.: FAS 1005