The most outstanding thing about Divergent’s 3D printed car is that it envisions a future that we would want to live in.

Certainly, we appreciate the electric, autonomous concepts, beta prototypes and tech demonstrators that every single other carmaker trotted out to the Consumer Electronics Show this year.

Divergent’s car is certainly disruptive, maybe the most disruptive car at the show, but it’s human-driven and gasoline-powered.

Well, the actual car itself, a tandem one-door/two-seater supercar called the Blade is mostly a proof of concept.

It’s a badass proof of concept, sure, and it’s one that tests the company’s ability to put its tech on the road, but it seems like it’s a very bright envelope around an incredibly cool process.

The-3D-printed-car-at-CES

Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove

Many of you might have seen 3D printed car before, but they’ve always been blocky, clunky, hideous and just awful at being a car.

The difference with Divergent is that they are 3D-printing their whole car out of metal.

Aluminum and titanium frames, crash structures, suspension assemblies, the whole lot.

Although, not the carbon fiber reinforcements, and not the wheels and tires, but the rest of it.

Divergent builds the car with metal powder fused by lasers (SLS printing) and don’t struggle with steps or clunky chunks in the design, each piece is like a single gigantic weld.

The technical term is ‘sintering,’ or ‘quad-laser direct metal laser sintering’ if you want to sound extra badass.

It’s an interesting concept to grasp, melting metal directly into a solid form sounds very high-tech.

The shapes this process allows are extraordinary. They look completely organic.

Making a part like the suspension assemblies with traditional means would require some kind of master technician milling out gigantic block of metal by hand.

It would be impossible on a basic level.

Initially, everyone thought that Divergent made their pieces like this to show off how weird they could make their parts.

Divergent stresses that these are the optimal shapes for the component’s strengths and loads.

They make their parts look like this not just because they can, but because there’s no lighter or stronger way to make them.

3D-printed-car-at-CES-2

Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove

Divergent’s own hardware and software evolves its car parts. It’s like nature in car form and Of course, they all end up looking like alien bird bones.

Divergent recently signed its first deal with a major car manufacturer, Peugeot.

Divergent would produce a part and both Divergent and Peugeot test it to make sure it matched expectations in tensile strength and performance.

When Peugeot finally OK’d the deal, Divergent showed Peugeot how it could take a whole 200 kilos (nearly a quarter ton) out of its family hatchback 308.

That affords not only incredible gains in fuel economy and performance but it also simply cuts down on a lot of the steel we’re trucking around the world, burning fossil fuels for production.

“This is about a production process,” Czinger from Peugeot informed. This isn’t just about 3D printing.”

The thing about 3D printing cars means you don’t just have to use heavy stamped metal parts; you don’t need humongous half-mile long assembly lines to produce them. Something like a warehouse on the edge of town could house enough 3D manufacturing ability to produce an entire car.

And there’s no inflexible tooling.

“The machine doesn’t care if an hour before it was making a truck, or an hour later it’s building a supercar,” Czinger beamed.

He envisions a world where there are many more car designers, easily computer-modeling whole front ends for cars and sending the data to be materialized at a local factory.

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