Jun 24, 2015 | By Simon

Considered by many to be the ultimate 3D printing challenge, 3D printed cars have been seeing significantly more attention ever since the crowdsourced automobile design and manufacturer Local Motors unveiled their Strati 3D printed car, which is expected to be released later this year.  

But while the Strati - which can be built in a matter of hours - represents a monumental shift in modern manufacturing technologies, it doesn’t necessarily highlight the potential that additive manufacturing might have for the environment at a time where more automakers are shifting over to hybrid engines and green technologies.

Among others who want to highlight the disruptive new approach to auto manufacturing that incorporates 3D printing to dramatically reduce the pollution, materials and capital costs associated with building automobiles and other large complex structures is San Francisco-based Divergent Microfactories.  

Today, the company’s Founder and CEO Kevin Czinger introduced the company’s plan to dematerialize and democratize car manufacturing in the form of the company’s very first 3D printed supercar prototype, Blade.   

“Society has made great strides in its awareness and adoption of cleaner and greener cars. The problem is that while these cars do now exist, the actual manufacturing of them is anything but environmentally friendly,” says Czinger.

“At Divergent Microfactories, we’ve found a way to make automobiles that holds the promise of radically reducing the resource use and pollution generated by manufacturing. 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. We’ve developed a sustainable path forward for the car industry that we believe will result in a renaissance in car manufacturing, with innovative, eco-friendly cars like Blade being designed and built in microfactories around the world.”

While the Strati is produced using fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing, Divergent Microfactories’ technology centers around its proprietary solution called a Node: a 3D-printed aluminum joint that connects pieces of carbon fiber tubing to make up the car’s chassis.  Among other problems solved by the Node include cutting down on the amount of 3D printing required to build the chassis as well as the time to assemble the car components - which is reduced to just minutes.  

Additionally, the reduction of materials and energy usage helps bring the weight of the car down as much as 90% compared to traditional cars, despite being stronger and more durable.  In addition to less damage being made to the environment and a user’s wallet, the design also causes less wear on the roadways, too.

"Nodes are the key building block we developed to build cars. They are made of a metal alloy and are produced using 3D printers." notes the company. "The nodes, combined with carbon fiber tubes are the key components in building a car chassis. It took less than 30 minutes to assemble the chassis by hand. With this approach we can build a very strong and very light chassis, and do so while saving energy and generating less pollution."

While the Node presents Divergent Microfactories’ new technology, the Blade presents the new technology in context as the world’s first 3D printed supercar.  The company claims that in addition to using their new technology, the prototype is one of the greenest and most powerful cars in the world.

As for power, the Blade is equipped with a 700-horsepower bi-fuel engine that can use both compressed natural gas or gasoline, and is capable of accelerating from 0-60 in two seconds while weighing approximately 1,388 pounds. "That's faster than a McLaren P1 supercar. It also has 2x the power-to-weight ratio of a Bugatti Veyron." The company has plans to sell a limited number of the high-performance vehicles which are expected to be manufactured and assembled within their own microfactory.

While the ability to create their own cars using their technology is one thing, Divergent Microfactories plans on releasing the platform into the hands of entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world in an effort to help them set up their own microfactories to build their own cars and complex structures.  Ultimately, the goal of the collective increase of microfactories will make innovation more affordable while also reducing the health and environmental impacts of traditional manufacturing.

Needless to say, between the developments in self-driving cars as well as disruptions to car manufacturing itself, this is an exciting time for the near-future of transportation.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Anon wrote at 7/6/2015 3:17:22 AM:

Thank god I'm not the only one. I was worried mine was on the fritz they way it was going off.

TheMike wrote at 6/24/2015 7:22:05 PM:

My BS Detector is blinking furiously

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