San Francisco based start-up Divergent Microfactories has unveiled a new manufacturing method using 3D printing that they claim will reduce the pollution, materials and capital costs associated with building cars.
The technique is based around the company’s proprietary solution called Node, which is a 3D-printed aluminium joint that connects carbon fibre rods to make up the car’s chassis. Divergent say the assembly can be done in minutes and will cut down the amount of 3D printing required to create the chassis, in addition to reducing materials and energy, the weight of the node chassis would be up to 90% lighter than traditional cards, which means you get increased fuel economy whilst still retaining strength and durability.
To demonstrate the technology used, the company launched its first prototype car called ‘blade’. Equipped with a 700 horsepower engine which can use either compressed natural gas or regular petrol the blade weighs just over 630kgs and will go from 0–60 in around 2 seconds.
At the start the company plans to sell the 3D printed blade in a limited number at its factory in California, but eventually plans to sell its technology to smaller manufacturers to make their own vehicles in what it’s calling the democratisation of automotive manufacturing.
The company’s goal is to put the platform in the hands of small entrepreneurial teams around the world, allowing them to set up their own micro-factories and build their own cars and, eventually, other large complex structures. These micro-factories will make innovation affordable while reducing the health and environmental impacts of traditional manufacturing.