During this month’s AM Focus Automotive, we are mapping the most accurate and up to date scenario for automotive additive manufacturing in final part production. We hereby present an analysis of the latest progress made by each major automaker group and some of the key activities—either publicly disclosed or confirmed by reliable sources. This episode is dedicated to French Group PSA additive manufacturing. In the previous episodes, we looked at Volkswagen, General Motors, Daimler Benz, Ford and BMW. The next two episodes will zoom in on FCA and Jaguar Land Rover.
The majority of known AM activity by the PSA Group, which comprises the brands Citroen, Peugeot, and DS Cars (and is in the process of merging with FCA), revolves around the sizable investment made in automotive metal AM start-up Divergent3D. The investment was based on interest from PSA to develop and scale Divergent’s innovative automobile design and manufacturing platform, which was initially based around printed metal ‘nodes’ that serve as interconnects for commodity carbon fiber structural components to form the chassis of an automobile. In the final version, shown in 2018, almost every component of chassis was 3D printed.
The interconnects demonstrated by Divergent in its Blade supercar concept utilize additively manufactured aluminum alloy parts. According to Divergent, the 3D printed parts are 10-15 percent lighter than T6 aluminum, but with the same stiffness.
Divergent uses SLM Solutions laser metal powder bed fusion hardware for its part production requirements. In 2019 the two strategic partners presented a front quarter-section of Divergent’s fully functional and crashworthy hypercar, that features a revolutionary printed chassis structure. They also showcased generatively engineered and validated lightweight suspension and chassis components, including a set of control arms manufactured on the first pre-production instance of the jointly developed machine. The suspension and chassis structures being displayed were produced on all of SLM Solutions’ systems – including the SLM800, SLM500 and SLM280 systems – and successfully endured over 450,000 kilometers of simulated road conditions.
To accelerate the development and time to market of the next generation machines, Divergent purchased 5 pre-production machines that will be used for factory integration and system bulletproofing at its showcase facility in Los Angeles, California. Divergent’s CEO, Kevin Czinger, plans to use the AM machines to meet production demand for a number of major global carmaker programs. Divergent’s initial factory deployment will require at least 20 production-ready systems when commercially available. Already in 2020, Divergent plans to begin series production of safety-critical structures for OEM customers in the US and Europe, followed by a customer rollout of advanced manufacturing facilities.
Other known practical applications of AM at PSA include one of the first mass customization application for metal PBF in a mid-level priced car: the special edition DS3 Dark Side now features titanium 3D printed interior finishing. The parts were 3D printed by French 3D printing service Spartacus3D on EOS systems.