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Tesla recently provided a sneak preview of its 4680 cell production planned for Gigafactory Berlin in the company’s latest recruitment video on LinkedIn. It reveals several small details of the 4680 production process that might be of interest to competing automakers in addition to potential employees.
Tesla unveiled the 4680 form factor cell at the company’s Battery Day last fall. It turns out the company is already producing these cells at their pilot production plant (Magic Cube) near its Fremont factory. According to Elon Musk’s presentation during Battery Day, Tesla is ramping up its 4680 pilot production to 10 GWh annually. “Actual production plants will be more in the order of 200 GWh/year, maybe more,” he said.
Meanwhile, the rate of construction and development at Giga Berlin suggests that this could be the first location for full-scale 4680 cell production. This could serve as incentive for top-notch German engineers to join the team at Giga Berlin in order to experience the most advanced cell manufacturing on the planet — now.
Tesla wrote in the job description on LinkedIn, “At Tesla, we build cars and factories from the ground up. Now we do the same for batteries.”
Earlier this year, Tesla also acquired a battery assembly company in Germany and it looks like the workforce from that factory won’t be big enough to fill all the jobs at Giga Berlin’s cell plant.
One intriguing idea behind the 4680 cell is its 80mm height which enables continuous motion cell manufacturing — similar to bottle production at beverage companies. This speeds up cell production compared to current procedures practiced at Giga Nevada’s cell manufacturing facility.
A Reddit user who is himself a cell chemistry engineer remarked on what he saw in the video in his comment:
While you’re waiting, the opening shots appear to be showing the production of one of the electrodes on a roll-to-roll coating process (0:02). This electrode is then sandwiched (positive electrode, separator, negative electrode) and the sand, which is then spun into a cylindrical cell (0:05). These cells are then loaded into canisters which you can see later in the video.
They don’t show (or it isn’t clear to me) the injection of the electrolyte which (I think) normally happens after the cylinder is put into the canister. It’s possible they are injecting it in one of the shots and I can’t tell, they could be injecting it off-screen, or they could be using a newer solid-state or quasi-solid state electrolyte.
I’m more familiar with the fundamentals of individual cell chemistry, less with the manufacturing of commercial cells, so I may be off!
In any event, we can see a lot of robots working on Tesla’s cell manufacturing lines in the video below. But Tesla still needs to staff up quickly. So if you’re interested, you can apply for Tesla’s cell manufacturing and innovation-related jobs here.
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