I always had a bit of a thing for cars - especially sports cars. Not that long ago I read an article about Blade the fastest 3D printed supercar, even faster than a Ferrari with a chassis about 90% lighter than an average car and I realized that whether you need to produce a functional car prototype, or a run of production parts, the possibilities with 3D printing are virtually endless.
Blade, the super-light sports car with a 3D printed chassis, designed as an alternative to traditional car manufacturing. Through 3D printing, Kevin Czinger, CEO of Divergent Microfactories, has developed a radical new way of to build cars with a much lighter footprint. "How we make things is much more important than how we fuel them and whether they have a tailpipe of not", Kevin said in an interview with Times. The San Francisco-based company is using 3D printing technology which has already revolutionized the aeronautics industry. Manufacturers can create lighter, stronger components at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional production methods. "Trying to do the same in the automotive industry, our company debuted a 3D printed supercar at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional production methods. "Trying to do the same in the automotive industry, our company debuted a 3D printed supercar dubbed "Blade", reportedly the first such vehicle to ever be additively manufactured". Divergent Microfactories has adapted additive manufacturing and with Industry 4.0 these additive-manufacturing methods will be widely used and in 3-D-printing technology forming a new generation of car manufacturing.
The Blade's chassis is quite unique. Instead of having to generate the entire single unit, Divergent developed a 3D printed aluminum "Node" joint. The printed carbon fiber tubes, which make up the chassis, plug into these nodes to form a strong and lightweight frame for the rest of the car. According to Divergent this method can reduce the weight of the chassis by about 90 percent compared to conventional cars though the fact that it's carbon fiber and not steel or. In all, the vehicle weighs just 600 kg featuring a 700HP engine capable of running on both CNG and gas. Czinger isn't the first innovator with ambitions of a drive able car made largely via 3-D printing. The Department of Energy built its own all-electric Shelby Cobra, Local Motors 3D introduced LM3D Swim a plastic car that is printed in 42 hours. KOR Ecologic has demonstrated one prototype, the Urbee, while in China, Sanya Shihai won attention for the Gold Tyrant, a car whose body is printed with 3-D plastic filament. Most of these other innovations, however, are looking more like Playmobil Toy cars. They use plastic as their main building material and rely on traditional manufacturing for key elements such as engines, seats and steering wheels, while being unable to go faster than 40 m.p.h.
Like the other pioneers, Czinger explains in this video that he ins't trying to make an entire car via 3-D printing. (Blade's engine, body and seats are traditionally manufactured.) But when it comes to the chassis, Czinger's Divergent Microfactories is taking a much more audacious approach than simply fusing plastic resin. He and his engineers use laser-based 3-D printing with metal powders, by contrast, to produce tubular aluminum junctions, known as nodes. These nodes are connected via carbon-fiber tubes, providing a strong skeleton to the car's overall frame - much like the mesh-like designs that are used for race cars or advanced commercial jetliners. If you;d also like to get your hands on what's bound to be a unique vehicle, the 3D-printed car LM3D Swim launching in the spring of 2016 and cost $53,000. If you'd rather spend the $53,000-plus elsewhere, you can also get a single pair of headphones.