Automotive

Divergent 3D slices forward with automotive 3D printing

Divergent 3D slices forward wi...
The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
The Blade features 3D-printed components below its deep-purple body
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The Blade features 3D-printed components below its deep-purple body
The Blade is powered by a 700-hp turbo four
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The Blade is powered by a 700-hp turbo four
Divergent 3D uses a supercar to highlight its technology, but its real goal lies in getting larger automakers to adopt its chassis tech 
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Divergent 3D uses a supercar to highlight its technology, but its real goal lies in getting larger automakers to adopt its chassis tech 
We think the Blade looks better in purple than in the silver we saw it wearing last time
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We think the Blade looks better in purple than in the silver we saw it wearing last time
Divergent 3D reveals a chassis, a superbike and a supercar at its LA Auto Show press conference
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Divergent 3D reveals a chassis, a superbike and a supercar at its LA Auto Show press conference
Divergent estimates a 2.5-second 0-60 mph time
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Divergent estimates a 2.5-second 0-60 mph time
The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent 3D Blade closeup
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Divergent 3D Blade closeup
Divergent 3D Blade closeup
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Divergent 3D Blade closeup
Divergent 3D Blade closeup
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Divergent 3D Blade closeup
Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
According to Divergent 3D's website, the Blade weighs 1,388 lb (630 kg)
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According to Divergent 3D's website, the Blade weighs 1,388 lb (630 kg)
Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent's chassis features 3D-printed aluminum nodes, extruded aluminum sections and carbon fiber beams
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Divergent's chassis features 3D-printed aluminum nodes, extruded aluminum sections and carbon fiber beams
Divergent 3D CEO Kevin Czinger speaks at the press conference
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Divergent 3D CEO Kevin Czinger speaks at the press conference
The Blade supercar's body may be flashy, but the real key to Divergent 3D's design is in the chassis
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The Blade supercar's body may be flashy, but the real key to Divergent 3D's design is in the chassis
Divergent 3D press conference, 2016 LA Auto Show
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Divergent 3D press conference, 2016 LA Auto Show
Divergent component display
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Divergent component display
Actual car components are made from metal, but this appears to be a plastic sample
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Actual car components are made from metal, but this appears to be a plastic sample
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis
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Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D Blade
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Divergent 3D Blade
Divergent 3D serves as a welcome to the 2016 LA Auto Show in the South Hall lobby
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Divergent 3D serves as a welcome to the 2016 LA Auto Show in the South Hall lobby
Divergent 3D Blade viewed from above
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Divergent 3D Blade viewed from above
Divergent 3D Blade chassis
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Divergent 3D Blade chassis
Divergent 3D Blade chassis
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Divergent 3D Blade chassis
Divergent 3D Blade chassis
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Divergent 3D Blade chassis
Divergent 3D Blade chassis
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Divergent 3D Blade chassis
Divergent 3D Blade chassis
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Divergent 3D Blade chassis
Divergent 3D Blade
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Divergent 3D Blade
Divergent 3D Blade
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Divergent 3D Blade
Divergent 3D Blade
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Divergent 3D Blade
Divergent 3D Blade
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Divergent 3D Blade
Divergent 3D Blade
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Divergent 3D Blade
The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show
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The Divergent 3D Blade at the 2016 LA Auto Show

Back in July 2015, we took a look at the Divergent 3D Blade, the world's first 3D-printed supercar. More than just a car, the Blade represented a paradigm shift in auto manufacturing ... and we really weren't all that sure we'd hear about it again. Well, we have. Divergent 3D has now branched out into motorcycles and is pressing forward with its 3D printing auto-making revolution at the LA Auto Show.

Divergent 3D has been rather busy since we looked at it last year. Over the course of 2016, it's taken home a North American Technology Innovation Award from research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan and announced partnerships with PSA Group (Peugeot) and global engineering and research firm Altran. So, instead of mere utopian promises, Divergent now has some name-brand recognition and collaboration to point to.

As it explains in a September 2016 announcement, PSA Group will explore implementing Divergent 3D's proprietary 3D printing tech with a view towards becoming a global leader in efficient automotive manufacturing. The strategic partnership will pursue several joint development projects.

"We're convinced that these spectacular advances in 3D printing will help position PSA Group as a leader in automobile manufacturing," said Carlos Tavares, chairman of the Managing Board PSA Group. "This has the potential to dramatically scale down the size and scope of our manufacturing footprint, reduce overall vehicle weight and build complexity, while also giving us almost limitless flexibility in design output. We are talking about a radical change for our industry."

Divergent 3D chassis
Divergent 3D chassis

We looked more closely at Divergent's software-hardware 3D printing platform in our original article, but the short of it is that it relies on 3D-printed aluminum connectors (nodes) to hold carbon fiber structural components together. Divergent explains that this type of construction will eliminate the reliance on large factories filled with expensive heavy metal tooling, thereby drastically reducing the environmental footprint of auto manufacturing, which it identifies as much larger than the tailpipe footprint.

The chassis it's showing in LA looks light years more advanced than the chassis revealed last year and includes a combination of 3D-printed aluminum, extruded aluminum and carbon fiber components. The chassis was built entirely without hard metal tooling and its components selected for an optimization of weight and strength.

Divergent's chassis features 3D-printed aluminum nodes, extruded aluminum sections and carbon fiber beams
Divergent's chassis features 3D-printed aluminum nodes, extruded aluminum sections and carbon fiber beams

"The Model T of the 20th century was all about mass production," Divergent CEO Kevin Czinger explained at the company's LA press conference last week. "The Model T and the cars of the 21st century are going to be all about volume customization. We're going to be able to move auto manufacturing from massive, one-size-fits-all factories to smaller, localized factories that can produce very profitable vehicles, with very high functionality, with very fast cycle times, and a much reduced impact on the environment."

It can't be easy to encapsulate all Divergent wants to do in digestible, 20-minute press conference form, and while the chassis was interesting to look at, it didn't quite have immediate, attention-grabbing presence. What does have that presence is a flashy supercar prototype. So Divergent also pulled the cloth off a new version of the Blade supercar, which looks largely the same as last year, save for a vibrant new paint job that absolutely popped in the radiant light of its LA booth.

The Blade features 3D-printed components below its deep-purple body
The Blade features 3D-printed components below its deep-purple body

Divergent didn't detail any new specs for the Blade at the press conference, and the engine of record on its website is still the 700-hp bi-fuel turbo four-cylinder it spoke of last year. The company has backed off of its two-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) claims, now listing a more believable but still-super-quick 2.5-second estimate.

Divergent 3D's technology can't make much of an impact by targeting low-volume, exotic supercar manufacturing and that's not really what it's all about. PSA, in turn, isn't pursuing it to pump out a production Peugeot Vision GT or DS E-Tense.

According to Czinger, when applied to a five-passenger sedan, 3D printing technology can cut out 75 percent of structural components and 50 percent of the structural weight while making that structure stronger. He also says Divergent's manufacturing techniques will cost a fraction to implement as compared to traditional metal stamping and tooling.

Divergent 3D Blade
Divergent 3D Blade

We're still not sure if Divergent 3D will have the dramatic, wide-sweeping impact on the auto manufacturing industry it is aiming for, but we are impressed with the strides it's made since last year. We look forward to reporting more about its 3D-printing manufacturing technology in the future and the cars that come to life from it.

In the meantime, you can look more at Divergent's new purple asphalt-eater and the chassis that resides below in our gallery.

Source: Divergent 3D

5 comments
Grunchy
Exciting! The nodes are 3d printed specific to the vehicle geometry being built. My question, how are the nodes / parts 3d printed? Usually this kind of manufacturing isn't very cost effective. It costs a lot more than mass production, but permits fantastic customization. Personally I'd 3d print the custom part in wax and then cast it in a lost wax / investment casting method. I think that's what this looks like, which is why I'd like more specific info. If it's that simple then all you need is a vendor to 3d print the big wax parts, and another vendor to turn those into castings, and somebody else to chopsaw the carbon fibre tubes to length, and then one other guy to assemble your car chassis. Supreme!
Wolf0579
After throwing 80% of autoworkers (and 80% of all other workers) out of work, and doing everything by computer, robot, 3d printing, etc. Who will be able to buy any of this wonderful technology? We need to start taxing the assets of the mega rich enough to provide a LIVABLE "reverse income tax" to those who cannot find employment because of the Tech. Revolution. That discussion needs to happen now.
ljaques
Ooh, what a dazzling beauty she is! ME WANT! I'm certain that this lovely purple is considerably more eye-appealing than the silver one. Very interesting tech. Hopefully, the 3D-printed parts will pass DOT standards in the near future. Anyway, can someone loan a Mil to me so I can buy one when they're available? Thanks in advance.
habakak
So last century. Autonomous taxis will make private vehicle ownership almost redundant. And with that the features we prize in cars today. Who will care what it looks like or how fast it is if it's not mine but provides me with a safe, comfortable and affordable means of transportation? This model is dead before it began.
Alm480
@habakak - people still buy expensive watches despite the fact there is the time on every phone and computer screen which most people spend all day looking at. Just because you are happy to catch the bus doesn't mean everyone that enjoys driving will suddenly stop enjoying it. Also, the article was about the manufacturing technology which is just as easily transferable to an autonomous taxi as it is to a ridiculously fast supercar. 75% less structural components and 50% less structural weight would be a win for any mode of transport.