Additive ManufacturingAutomotive

How major automakers use AM for production today, part 6: PSA additive manufacturing

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 VolkswagenGeneral 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.

PSA Additive Manufacturing
The latest development of the Divergent car structure leveraging AM to the fullest extent possible.

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.

PSA Additive Manufacturing
The titanium 3D printed details in the DS3 Dark Side Edition
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Davide Sher

Since 2002, I have built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, I spent 12 years in the United States, where I received my Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. As a journalist covering the tech industry - especially the videogame industry - for over 10 years, I began covering the AM industry specifically in 2013, as blogger. In 2016 I co-founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial, and market analysis & consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, and leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. I am also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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