Traditional methods for building cars are full of wasted materials and wasted energy. 3D printing offers a greater level of customization along with the ability to easily make complicated parts. The team from Divergent Microfactories set forth to use the power of 3D printing to help make a car — and not just any car — a super car!
A super car is a high-end sports car for those looking for speed and power. Produced by companies like Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, McLaren, and Koenigsegg, these are the cars that adorn the walls and fantasies of teenage boys and their grownup millionaire selves. One of the most important factors of a super car is its power to weight ratio. The cars are stripped of everything that is not needed and made from the lightest weight materials possible.
The Divergent Microfactories Blade comes in at a svelte 1500 lbs — nearly a third of a Tesla Model S — and can accelerate faster than a McLaren P1. This has another upside; it also means the car is more efficient. Divergent Microfactories claims the car will produce half the lifetime emissions of a standard car (of course this is if you are not blowing everyone off the line at every traffic light you stop at).
To produce the Blade, Divergent Microfactories is taking a novel approach. They are using 3D printing to build parts they call Nodes. These are similar to lugs used in building bicycles. These nodes provide the proper angles, attachment points, and structural components for the frame. The nodes are printed from aluminum and then joined together using carbon fiber tubing. This creates an incredibly strong but light weight frame for the car. If the team would like to change an aspect of the car, they don’t need to build an entirely new frame, they can print new nodes and replace the affected section of tubing.
Often the larger environmental impact from cars isn’t from emissions though, it’s from the processes of building the car in the first place. One argument often leveraged against electric cars is that the environmental impact caused by their production outweighs their savings vs traditional gas or hybrid cars. By creating these small lightweight parts in “microfactories” and then using stock off the shelf carbon fiber tubing, the Divergent Microfactories team claims they can produce a car with only a third of the environmental impact of an electric car.
Divergent Microfactories is unveiling the Blade for the first time to the public today at O’Reilly Solid Con. If you are attending the event, you can hear more about the project from the companies founder and CEO, Kevin Czinger, during his Keynote.