There are several concepts here at CES, but Divergent’s 3D printed supercar is perhaps the show’s most exciting car on display. Announced a few years ago, the Blade is made by Gardena-based startup Divergent Microfactories, and features a chassis that was created entirely using a 3D printer.
Using metal and coupled with carbon fiber for the body, the company’s method reduces the overall weight by a significant amount. As a result, the Blade is capable of going from 0-60 mph in just 2.2 seconds. That’s incredibly fast, to be sure, but you have to remember the vehicle is a proof of concept.
Here’s how the process works:
Divergent provides a disruptive new approach to auto manufacturing that incorporates 3D printed joints, which we call a NODE, connecting carbon fiber structural materials that results in an industrial strength chassis that can be assembled in a matter of minutes.
Divergent brought the Blade to CES to not only show it off in person, but to let people know it’s working with some big names in the industry, including Peugot and SLM Solutions, companies that will use Divergent’s printing methods on a wider scale.
To be clear, the Blade isn’t autonomous and it’s not electric. Instead, it sports a 700HP engine that will run on compressed natural gas, which still makes it environmentally friendly. That doesn’t mean, however, automakers won’t be able to use Divergent’s technology for autonomous electric supercars.
The benefit of using 3D printing for manufacturing is how quickly designers can create and test parts. It also allows companies to get a little more creative in the design process, which leads to cars like the Blade, which, as mentioned, is much lighter than the average car—about 1,400 pounds, which is three times lighter than the Model S.
According to Divergent, its processes will also provide a major benefit to the environment. Even though our cars are getting greener, manufacturing is still an emissions nightmare. Divergent says “dematerialized cars” are better because they’re greener, lighter, and safer. Apparently, manufacturing emissions using Divergent’s technology is three times greener than electric.
There are some drawbacks, too
Of course, 3D printing isn’t perfect, and there are some pretty big drawbacks. While Divergent’s process allows designers to get more creative, it’s not exactly conducive to mass producing. If a company like Honda wanted to 3D print the Civic, Divergent’s process would be far too slow.
You can check out the Blade in the gallery above, along with some skeleton pieces that make up the concept.
Correction 01/08/16: The article originally stated Divergent was based in San Francisco. The company is based in Gardena, California.