Automotive AM company Divergent Technologies (Divergent 3D) has signed a letter of intent to purchase five pre-production next-generation AM systems from SLM Solutions, with the ultimate aim of manufacturing 3D printed components for hypercars. The two companies have been working under a Joint Development Partnership (JDP) since 2017.
That JDP involves the development of a “next-generation multi-laser machine” that can be used to fabricate metal automotive components and aerospace parts. Working towards that goal, Divergent has just agreed to purchase from SLM Solutions five “pre-production” machines that will be used for “factory integration and system bulletproofing.”
Divergent’s vision is to change the car manufacturing landscape by fabricating printable automotive chassis and other metal structures at localized AM production centers. Over the last few years, the company has significantly heightened its reputation after creating functional 3D printed vehicles including the Blade supercar, once driven by Jay Leno.
In 2020, Divergent intends to begin series production of safety-critical structures for OEM customers in the US and Europe, and will then proceed to a customer rollout of advanced manufacturing facilities. The company says it is participating in “a number of major global carmaker programs,” and ultimately intends to operate 20 next-generation 3D printing systems at its factory.
“The next-generation machine resulting from this partnership achieves cost productivity enabling the broad use of metal additive manufacturing for true series production,” noted Meddah Hadjar, CEO of SLM Solutions.
Attendees of Formnext 2019 will get a chance to see Divergent’s progress, because the company will use the exhibition to present, alongside SLM Solutions, a front quarter-section of its “fully functional and crashworthy” hypercar, complete with 3D printed chassis. Divergent will also showcase some lightweight suspension and chassis components, all of which have been generatively engineered and validated, including a set of control arms.
Those control arms were made using one of the pre-production AM systems developed jointly by SLM Solutions and Divergent, while the suspension and chassis structures — which have been put through their paces over 450,000 kilometers of simulated road conditions — were made using commercially available SLM Solutions systems such as the SLM 800, a large-format printer with a usable build volume of 500 x 280 x 850 mm. Eventually, however, all Divergent components will be made using the jointly developed next-generation machines.
“Alignment between the two companies across machines, software and materials will drive a step change from standalone AM machines to fully integrated smart factories,” concluded Kevin Czinger, Founder and CEO of Divergent.