Plenty of auto manufacturers are making various attempts to make their cars greener and better for the environment. Hybrids, electric vehicles, and biofuel are just a few current advancements that are making ripples in ending dependence on fossil fuels. Now, showcased by the phenomenally light and quick 3D-printed Blade supercar, Divergent Microfactories, wants to not only make a splash, it wants to create a game-changing tidal wave.
Billed as the world’s first 3D-printed supercar, the Blade is currently showing off in San Francisco at the Solid Convention. It’s a gathering to display disruptive new products and technologies birthed from mixing ideas and services from the worlds of software, hardware, and data. The Blade is Divergent Microfactories’ contribution. Let’s look at its makeup and specs before explaining DM’s ultimate goal.
The Blade is built with a completely new type of tech. The chassis is made of modular 3D-printed metal alloy pieces called nodes. They are connected with carbon fiber tubes to create a super lightweight frame that DM claims could be built in 30 minutes. It’s kind of like K’Nex for adults. In the video below, it even shows the circus trick of carrying the full arrangement of nodes in a backpack. The total weight of the chassis is only 102 pounds (61 from the nodes, 41 from the carbon fiber). The total weight of the Blade is 1,388 pounds. For a quick bit of reference, the Ariel Atom weighs 1,350, and a Bugatti Veyron weighs more than 4,000.
If we’re to believe DM, the Blade is powered by a 700-horsepower turbocharged engine that runs on compressed natural gas or regular gasoline. DM claims it’ll go 0-60 in “about two seconds.” An Atom 3 (which has 230 bhp) goes 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, and a Veyron Super Sport (which has 1,200 hp) goes 0-62 in 2.5. All very different machines with different approaches.
So what’s the point? Why haven’t I mentioned any MPG figures or alternative fuel options? Well, DM wants to cut the emissions from a different angle by completely changing the process of car manufacturing. CEO Kevin Czinger points out that 80-90 percent of environmental damage comes from the manufacturing process.
“Our focus is to radically reduce the materials, energy use, pollution and cost of car manufacturing, and to put new tools of production and innovation into the hands of small teams around the world,” DM says in a release. “To achieve this, we will provide the necessary tools for people to set up a microfactory, and the technologies to allow them to build vehicles. We will also sell a limited number of high performance vehicles that will be manufactured in our own microfactory.”
That means DM doesn’t simply want to produce cars, it also wants its technology and approach to spread to other products and services, as well. As for the Blade, though, DM is thinking it could build about 10,000 annually. By building them in smaller factories that require less machinery and less energy, consumption and pollution would, as a result, go down.
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