Supercars: Sleek, scintillating, schmaltzy. But what can be done to further boost the extravagance? How could a cash-lavished automobilist possibly heighten the supercar driving experience?
By crafting a new ride with a 3D printer, of course. Throw in a 700-horsepower bi-fuel engine -- along with some carbon fiber -- and presto! You're not so much King of the Road as its iron-fisted, attention-nabbing overlord. Even Mad Max would think twice about giving chase.
Though not the first 3D-printed automotive -- Local Motors unveiled its Strati model last year -- Divergent Microfactories' Blade blends 3D printing with the aforementioned super engine and, according to its inventors, offers utmost flexibility to match increased speed of construction. This expedited production is among several noteworthy claims -- though 3D printing is an adaptable process, construction of each component typically demands a significant period of time. Can Blade change that?
Kevin Czinger, founder and CEO of Divergent Microfactories, says yes. He calls his startup company's answer a Node -- 3D printed using aluminum rather than plastic, it operates as a custom joint for various lengths of carbon fiber tubing. Built like a huge (and abundantly expensive) LEGO kit, its chassis is crafted with minimal 3D printing to reduce assembly time. According to Divergent, this results in a chassis up to 90-percent lighter than that of a regular car.
It all sounds too good to be true. Right? Czinger doesn't think so. He's already announced an official Blade launch. By embracing the brawny 700 HP engine (powered by either gasoline or compressed natural gas), the car -- curb weight around 1,400-pounds -- boasts of a zero to 60 mph run in two (ish) seconds.
So how heinous a hole will Blade bludgeon into your bank balance? That remains a mystery, along with its release date. And in the least surprising news since Jeff Gordon last surpassed the speed limit, Blade will be a low-production model with an unspecified "limited number" of cars manufactured.
Blade doesn't signify the peak of the startup company's creative endeavors, either -- Divergent Microfactories foresee widespread utilization of its Node technique. By first placing small teams around the world for limited-number car manufacturing, the company's grander goal is to expand the Node's use and influence in a variety of structures.
M Divergent Microfactories has an impressive plan in place, and confidence in its product is seemingly sky-high. If logistical stipulations offered by 3D printing (not least the painstakingly slow production time) can be conquered, the Node could well play a prominent part in the future of car manufacturing.