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Elon Musk Explains Cybertruck's Uncompromising Angular Steel Design

by Claribelle Deveza November 26, 2019

Tesla-Cybertruck-Oragami-Body-Frame

Elon Musk provided some more background about his Cybertruck’s shape and stainless steel exoskeleton recently via Twitter. His tweets helped explain some of the processes that went into creating the CYBRTRK’s sharp, angular, robust body.

“Reason Cybertruck is so planar is that you can’t stamp ultra-hard 30X steel, because it breaks the stamping press,” explained Tesla CEO Elon Musk via Twitter. Musk’s tweet pretty much confirmed other peoples’ theories about the shape and material of the Cybertruck.

Auto expert Jack Rickard and his friend Richard talked about the Cybertruck’s exoskeleton in his YouTube Channel [video below] and explained the pickup truck’s design a bit further. Rickard mentioned the cost benefits of the design and the process used to create it.

“They always talked about if they made something out of sheeting, they wouldn’t have the molding, forming, stamping, machines’ etc.,” he said. According to the auto expert, the design is called an XY design. It’s not a new idea amongst car companies, but no one has had the guts to do it until Tesla—as Rickard put it.

For the XY Design, a massive sheet of stainless steel is used. Rickard described the processes of working with a stainless steel sheet. First, the design of the vehicle is drawn onto the sheet, which should be laid out flat. The terminology Rickard used for this process was "to score" the sheet. Musk talked about how deep a score the Cybertruck needed for bends via Twitter. He said, “Even bending it requires a deep score on inside of bend, which is how the prototype was made.”

After the design is drawn out, the corners and edges are cut out with either a laser cutter or a water jet, while the sheet lays flat. Next, the stainless steel sheet is folded, like origami, and welded into shape.

“You basically take one or two sheets and fold them up into a truck, which is a huge cost-saving,” said Rickard. According to him, the whole process makes stamping machines unnecessary and lends itself well to robot laser assembly—a factor the Elon Musk would have probably liked.

Rickard speculated that Tesla probably used a 3mm sheet of 301 stainless steel—the same used for aircraft, subway cars, and appliances—to make the Cybertruck’s ultra-tough exoskeleton. Musk has confirmed that the pickup truck’s skin is made of a new variant of 300 series stainless steel on Twitter.

Rickard also explained that stainless steel comes in 4 basic hardness—quarter hard, half-hard, 3 quarters hard, and full hard. To get a stainless sheet full hard, it needs to be cold-rolled. So it can be assumed that the Cybertruck’s stainless steel exoskeleton is full hard since Musk did mention cold-rolling the pickup's steel frame during the vehicle's unveiling.

During the futuristic pickup truck’s unveiling, Musk said very little about the Cybertruck’s body. He focused more on how tough the stainless steel exoskeleton was and briefly tied its material to SpaceX’s Starship rocket.

He mentioned via Twitter that the Cybertruck was supposed to have titanium skin initially. However, cold-rolled 30X stainless steel was much stronger, so they made the switch. Tesla is currently making its own stainless steel alloy, probably with SpaceX’s help. As such, Musk seems confident that there will be enough supply of the Cybertruck’s exoskeleton for production.

From a manufacturing point of view, however, Tesla still needs to figure out new production methods to meet the Cybertruck's demand because traditional assembly processes can not be used. Thus, Tesla’s production methods for the Cybertruck, which remain to be seen, will likely be critical to its success.

Featured Image Credit: Tesla

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