A two-second 0-60 time for a 3D-printed supercar built by a company no one has heard of is a pretty bold claim, but that’s exactly what Divergent Microfactories is claiming for its Blade supercar. But the Blade is about more than just going fast. It’s also about sustainable manufacturing, and, to that end, Divergent has developed a new assembly method that dramatically cuts emissions during the manufacturing process.

“At Divergent Microfactories, we’ve found a way to make automobiles that holds the promise of radically reducing the resource use and pollution generated by manufacturing,” says founder and CEO Kevin Czinger. “It also holds the promise of making large-scale car manufacturing affordable for small teams of innovators. And as Blade proves, we’ve done it without sacrificing style or substance.”

Divergent and Czinger point out that the majority of an automobile’s emissions are actually produced during manufacturing, and it gets worse for cars perceived as ‘green’ alternatives. Manufacturing batteries is a dirty business. A study published by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory found that hybrids and EVs come nowhere close to offsetting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during their production and have much larger carbon footprints than gasoline-powered cars.

So, what’s the solution? Obviously, it’s an internal-combustion 700-horsepower supercar that weighs less than 1,400 pounds and can outrun a 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari or 2014 McLaren P1 to 60 mph.

Continue reading for the full story.

Blade - World's First 3D-Printed Car Goes From 0 To 60 In 2 Seconds High Resolution Exterior
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Remember Tinkertoys? Probably not, if you’re under a certain age, but the Blade is constructed using similar ideas. 3D-printed aluminum joints called ‘nodes’ are used to connect carbon-fiber tubes that make up the car’s chassis.

The whole thing can be assembled in a matter of minutes, and, crucially, the company says the entire build process is about three times cleaner than that of an electric car.

Divergent claims the resulting chassis structure is stronger and a whopping 90 percent lighter than that of a traditional chassis. The whole thing can be assembled in a matter of minutes, and crucially, the company says the entire build process is about three-times cleaner than that of an electric car.

The Blade is powered by an engine of unspecified origin, but Divergent says it’s a turbocharged four cylinder that produces a claimed 700 horsepower on either gasoline or compressed natural gas. Given that it weighs 600 pounds less than even a Lotus Elise, that gives it a power-to-weight ratio roughly twice that of a Bugatti Veyron.

The body for the single-seat prototype you see here is made from composite, but, because none of the panels are load-bearing, the body could be made out of just about any material and in any shape. Divergent says even spandex is a possibility and that its unique chassis architecture could underpin everything from sports cars to pickups.

Why it matters

Blade - World's First 3D-Printed Car Goes From 0 To 60 In 2 Seconds High Resolution Exterior
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A limited number of Blades will be built and sold in a microfactory that’s similar in concept to the ones Local Motors is establishing. Beyond that, Divergent is looking “democratize” car manufacturing by providing its microfactories and tools to small teams around the world.

There are some nifty ideas at work here, so let’s hope the Blade doesn’t end up as vaporware. We’ll have a full review soon.

Press Release

Divergent Microfactories today unveiled a disruptive new approach to auto manufacturing that incorporates 3D printing to dramatically reduce the pollution, materials and capital costs associated with building automobiles and other large complex structures. Highlighted by Blade, the first prototype supercar based on this new technology, Divergent Microfactories CEO Kevin Czinger introduced the company’s plan to dematerialize and democratize car manufacturing.

Blade - World's First 3D-Printed Car Goes From 0 To 60 In 2 Seconds High Resolution Exterior
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“Society has made great strides in its awareness and adoption of cleaner and greener cars. The problem is that while these cars do now exist, the actual manufacturing of them is anything but environmentally friendly,” said Kevin Czinger, founder & CEO, Divergent Microfactories. “ At Divergent Microfactories, we’ve found a way to make automobiles that holds the promise of radically reducing the resource use and pollution generated by manufacturing. It also holds the promise of making large-scale car manufacturing affordable for small teams of innovators. And as Blade proves, we’ve done it without sacrificing style or substance. We’ve developed a sustainable path forward for the car industry that we believe will result in a renaissance in car manufacturing, with innovative, eco-friendly cars like Blade being designed and built in microfactories around the world.”

Divergent Microfactories’ technology centers around its proprietary solution called a Node: a 3D-printed aluminum joint that connects pieces of carbon fiber tubing to
make up the car’s chassis. The Node solves the problem of time and space by cutting down on the actual amount of 3D printing required to build the chassis and can be assembled in just minutes. In addition to dramatically reducing materials and energy use, the weight of the Node-enabled chassis is up to 90% lighter than traditional cars, despite being much stronger and more durable. This results in better fuel economy and less wear on roads.

Blade - World's First 3D-Printed Car Goes From 0 To 60 In 2 Seconds Exterior
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The centerpiece of the Divergent Microfactories announcement is Blade, the world’s first 3D-printed supercar. Designed and built using Divergent Microfactories’ technology, the prototype is one of the greenest and most powerful cars in the world. Equipped with a 700-horsepower bi-fuel engine that can use either compressed natural gas or gasoline, Blade goes from 0-60 in about two seconds and weighs around 1,400 pounds. Divergent Microfactories plans to sell a limited number of high-performance vehicles that will be manufactured in its own
microfactory.

In addition to unveiling its technology platform and prototype, Divergent Microfactories announced plans to democratize auto manufacturing. The goal is to put the platform in the hands of small entrepreneurial teams around the world, allowing them to set up their own microfactories and build their own cars and, eventually, other large complex structures. These microfactories will make innovation affordable while reducing the health and environmental impacts of traditional manufacturing.

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