San Francisco-based Divergent Microfactories has produced the world’s first 3D printed supercar and it sports a whopping 700bhp.
The prototype, dubbed the Blade, brings both world-class performance and a revolutionary new approach to emissions control.
The company has opted to steer clear of electric powertrains, instead focusing on low-cost, low-emissions manufacturing methods and by greatly reducing the vehicle’s weight when compared with conventional cars.
Divergent Microfactories CEO Kevin Czinger adopted an unconventional approach to emissions control.
“How we make things is much more important than how we fuel them and whether they have a tailpipe or not,” Czinger said in an interview with Forbes.
The Blade’s specs
The Blade weighs just 1,400lbs (635kg) and is powered by a 700hp 2.4 litre bi-fuel engine, running on both compressed natural gas and traditional gasoline. Put all of that together and you get a power-to-weight ratio that is normally reserved for race cars, yet delivered in a street-legal package that costs a fraction to manufacture.
The Blade will reach 60mph in a blisteringly quick 2.2 seconds thanks to its high-tech bi-fuel powertrain and lightweight carbon fibre chassis. That’s 0.2 of a second faster than the 2013 Bugatti Veyron.
The Blade’s modular chassis is designed using a proprietary method of 3D printing utilising 3D printed aluminium nodes and aerospace carbon fibre. The 3D printed aluminium joints connect the carbon fibre tubing and the chassis is said to be as strong as a regular chassis, yet tips the scales at just 102 pounds (46kg).
The car’s green credentials
Czinger highlights the fact that while electric and other ‘greener’ car options exist, the cost and manufacturing process of OEM mass production belie their environmental contribution.
“The problem is that while these cars do now exist, the actual manufacturing of them is anything but environmentally friendly,’ Czinger said.
And with an estimated cost of roughly $10m for a 10,000 unit per year production line, according to Czinger, overall costs of the Blade are a fraction of traditional production.
Perhaps the most promising reality is the potential for micro-factories and smaller automotive companies, who will be able to produce limited runs of vehicles without the huge wastage and costs usually associated with production.
The technology presents virtually limitless design combinations and Czinger also believes the technology is viable for alternate applications such as trucks or regular family cars.