Last year we saw Local Motors’ Strati, a compact car with a 3D printed body, seats, windshield and support structures. Divergent Microfactories’ (DM) Blade prototype supercar looks much better – and is apparently much more powerful – than the Strati, but DM’s pride and joy is what’s inside the car.
The DM Blade has a 700hp four-cylinder engine and weighs just 1400lb., supposedly allowing it to go from 0 to 60mph in just 2.2s. For comparison, the $2.25M Bugatti Veyron completes the same acceleration test in 2.46s. If those numbers are true, then the Blade would be newsworthy by itself. But DM wants us to focus on another number. 3D Print says the Blade has “1/50 the factory capital costs of other manufactured cars.” That’s where 3D printing comes in.
The Blade’s chassis is made of off-the-shelf carbon fiber tubes that are connected by 3D printed aluminum nodes. These nodes are like pipe fittings, allowing for chassis and other frames in a variety of shapes and sizes. More importantly, they reduce the manufacturing costs, skill requirements and environmental impacts of car manufacturing.
The idea, as DM’s founder and CEO Kevin Czinger puts it, is to be the Arduino of cars – an affordable and customizable platform for car manufacturers to use as the basis for their vehicles. Czinger and other DM officials talk at length about their vision in this O’Reilly interview.
Here’s a stylized assembly of the Blade’s chassis, which is made of 70 nodes and takes only 30 minutes to build by hand.
As mentioned in the O’Reilly interview, DM plans to eventually make 10,000 Blades annually. But just like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and other single-board computers, DM will measure its success by how many vehicles will be built and how many small automakers will be born thanks to its technology.
[via 3D Print]