The automobile industry has been relatively stagnant for the past several decades. While new car designs are released annually, and computer technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, the manufacturing processes and the effects that these processes have on our environment have remain relatively unchanged. Over the past decade or so, 3-D printing has shown some promise in the manufacturing of automobiles, yet it hasn’t quite lived up to its potential, at least according to Kevin Czinger, founder and CEO of a company called Divergent Microfactories (DM).
Today, at the O’Reilly Solid Conference in San Francisco, Kevin Czinger is about to shock the world with a keynote presentation he will give titled, “Dematerializing Auto Manufacturing.”
“Divergent Microfactories is going to unveil a supercar that is built based on 3D printed parts,” Manny Vara of LMG PR says. “It is very light and super fast — can you say faster acceleration than a McLaren P1, and 2x the power-to-weight ratio of a Bugatti Veyron? But the car itself is only part of the story. The company is actually trying to completely change how cars are made in order to hugely reduce the amount of materials, power, pollution and cost associated with making traditional cars.”
The vehicle, called the Blade, has 1/3 the emissions of an electric car and 1/50 the factory capital costs of other manufactured cars. Unlike previous 3D printed vehicles that we have seen, such as Local Motors’ car that they have printed several times, DM’s manufacturing process differs quite a bit. Instead of 3D printing an entire vehicle, they 3D print aluminum ‘nodes’ which act in a similar fashion to Lego blocks. 3D printing allows DM to create elaborate and complex shaped nodes which are then joined together by off-the-shelf carbon fiber tubing. Once the nodes are printed, the chassis of a car can be completely assembled in a matter of minutes by semiskilled workers. The process of constructing the chassis is one which requires much less capital and other resources, and doesn’t require the extremely skilled and trained workers that other car manufacturing techniques rely on. The important goal that DM is striving for, and it appears they have accomplished, is the reduction of pollution and environmental impact.
I guess printing cars is the first step; next flying ones huh…