What can you make with a 3D printer, some aluminum powder and carbon fiber tubing? If you’re Kevin Czinger, a brand new sports car with a 3D-printed chassis.
During the O’Reilly Solid Conference, Divergent Microfactories unveiled a 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. Highlighted by Blade, the first prototype supercar based on this new technology, Czinger introduced the company’s plan to dematerialize and democratize car manufacturing.
Aside from its sleek and sexy exterior, Blade can go from 0-60mph in just two seconds, and at 1,400-pounds weighs 90% less than conventional cars. Equipped with a 700-horsepower bi-fuel engine that can run on either compressed natural gas or gasoline, Divergent Microfactories plans to sell a limited number of the high-performance, two-seater vehicles that will be manufactured in its own microfactory. The automobile is capable of traveling up to 100 miles on CNG, while 350 miles on regular gasoline.
The company’s revolutionary technology centers around a proprietary, modular solution called a Node — a 3D-printed aluminum joint that connects pieces of carbon fiber tubing to make up the car’s chassis. In others, think of it like a LEGO kit for vehicles. While it may not be the first 3D-printed automobile in recent months, Blade’s unique combination of 3D printing and assembly is certainly something else. The Node solves the problem of time and space by cutting down on the actual amount of 3D printing required to build the chassis and can be fabricated in a matter of minutes. What’s more, the prototype is also one of the greenest and most powerful cars in the world.
“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,” Czinger adds.
Aside from showing off its prototype, Divergent Microfactories has shared plans to democratize auto manufacturing. The goal is to put the platform in the hands of small entrepreneurial teams around the world, allowing them to set up their own microfactories and build their own cars and, eventually, other large complex structures. These microfactories will make innovation affordable while reducing the health and environmental impacts of traditional manufacturing.