San Francisco, Calif. - A California startup, Divergent Microfactories, has melded aesthetic design with technological innovation in developing what it calls “the world’s first 3D-printed supercar.”
The company was founded by Kevin Czinger, who also founded Coda Automotive. Coda Automotive developed an electric vehicle that never got off the ground, with the company filing for bankruptcy in 2013.
In this newest foray into the automotive industry, Czinger attempts to merge the successful application of energy efficiency, with a next generation manufacturing paradigm that embraces 3D printing.
Czinger believes that the move to 3D printing will create a cleaner manufacturing process, which he believes is more of problem than the actual emissions from the cars themselves.
"A far greater percentage of a car's total emissions come from the materials and energy required to manufacture it," he claimed during a keynote speech at last month's O'Reilly Solid Conference. "How we make cars is actually a much bigger problem than how we fuel our cars."
The process used to manufacture the car is based around a 3D-printed aluminum chassis, which Czinger calls a node. Aluminum powder is melted into form using a laser based printing system, with individual nodes holding carbon fiber tubes together.
The company claims that the Divergent’s chassis weighs almost 90 percent less than a standard car and it requires far less energy and material to produce.
According to a report in gizmag:
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By using 3D-printed nodes, Divergent says that it can drastically cut down on the amount of space, time and investment required for automotive manufacturing. Once printed, the nodes allow a chassis to be constructed in a matter of minutes in a small, simple microfactory space. No longer will building a profitable car require the resources of a global corporation.
Divergent's plan comes at a time when 3D printing is already starting to infiltrate the auto industry. Last year, Local Motors live-printed what it called the world's first 3D-printed car, an open top composite tub called the Strati. At the time, Local Motors explained that while the older Urbee 3D-printed car was limited to printed panels and parts, the Strati's entire non-mechanical structure was a 3D print. In less than a year since then, we've also seen a 3D-printed German microcar, Shelby Cobra replica and semi-solar electric car.
Divergent attempts to differentiate themselves from the aforementioned 3D-printed vehicles as they take a much more powerful approach that stresses performance.
Their vehicle, the Blade, lays claim to the title of world’s first 3D-printed supercar, touting a 700-hp bi-fuel(gas/CNG) four-cylinder turbo charged engine. The Blade is reported to clock in at two seconds flat when timed from 0 to 60.
Aside from the launch of the Blade, Divergent will attempt change the current paradigm as they “dematerialize and democratize” the auto manufacturing industry by allowing small businesses to avoid the cost intensive operations of traditional manufacturers.
Cost projections from Divergent put the initial cost of developing a traditional automotive factory at $1 billion U.S. dollars, while estimating the cost of starting a microfactory with a 10,000-car/year capacity at roughly $20 million.
The company believes their node based designs will revolutionize the industry as the node based chassis can just as easily build an SUV as it can a muscle car, allowing for a potential manufacturer to produce a wide variety of different style vehicles.
"We’ve found a way to make automobiles that holds the promise of radically reducing the resource use and pollution generated by manufacturing," Czinger says. "It also holds the promise of making large-scale car manufacturing affordable for small teams of innovators. And as Blade proves, we’ve done it without sacrificing style or substance."
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has been published on BenSwann's Truth in Media, Chris Hedges' truth-out, AlterNet and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.