Ever since 3D printing was invented, companies have been trying to find new ways to use the technology. At the start of the year, Local Motors demonstrated how they could print a fully functional car when they created the Strati. Whilst the Renault Twizy powered printed car is very impressive, it won’t be getting the blood of petrolheads racing with its 40mph top speed and 12 mile range; Divergent Microfactories think they may have the answer.
“I’ve done wheelies in it. I’ve lifted the front wheels going up a hill in fourth gear by four or five inches”
That’s what Divergent Microfactories CEO and founder Kevin Czinger told Top Gear when he was interviewed about his new car – the Blade. The future limited production car is the world’s first 3D-printed supercar and is said to pave the way for Divergent Microfactories’ future high volume production cars. Czinger has stated that the striking Blade demonstrates a sustainable future for the automotive industry; thanks to a manufacturing process that he calls ‘dematerialising’.
Dematerialising refers to a reduction in materials, energy use, pollution and costs involved when manufacturing the car. Kevin intends to allow other people to set up their own microfactories using the same technique, therefore growing a progressively more environmentally friendly world when it comes to the manufacturing of vehicles.
Despite utilising 3D printing in its construction, the Blade isn’t entirely made from 3D-printed parts and also includes some traditionally created composite panels, brakes, tyres and an aluminium and carbon fibre chassis. Czinger says that it’s the chassis that is the really clever part of what Divergent Microfactories has created as it can be easily adapted for any type of vehicle:
“The chassis is like a motherboard, you just plug whatever components you like in, as a result it’s easy to adapt the system for anything from a two-seater to a pick-up”
This ease comes from a system of around 70 3D-printed aluminium alloy nodes that are connected by carbon fibre rods.
Thanks to the innovative new construction method, the DM Blade weighs in at just 630kg; a figure that seems ridiculous when twinned with 700bhp and 500lb ft of torque. The lightweight construction and impressive performance figures has gifted the Blade with a power to weight ratio nearly twice that of a Bugatti Veyron and a claimed 0-62mph time of just 2.2 seconds. The engine that creates all of this madness has been taken from the excellent Mitisubishi Evo X but has subsequently been bored out to 2.4-litres, twinned with a giant Garrett turbocharger and connected to a Holiger six-speed sequential gearbox that gives a ‘raw, racecar feel’.
With stats like that and the slightly outrageous exterior styling, the Blade certainly seems to tick every box in order to become a supercar; there’s a problem though, only one development prototype has actually been built to date and it isn’t street legal or structurally rigid enough to be sold as a production vehicle. Czinger is adamant that they will have a completely street legal version created within the next 18 months. If Divergent Microfactories can really pull off the creation of 3D-printed supercars, their environmentally friendly production methods might just be the thing that prolongs the life of the high powered combustion engine.