Auto 3D Printing Drives Forward with Divergent-Altran Partnership
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on October 27, 2016 |

In September, auto 3D printing start-up Divergent 3D received a series boost from the PSA Group—owners of Peugeot, Citroën and DS Automobiles. Now, the firm has announced news that will drive the company even further, a global development partnership with engineering research and development firm Altran.

The Blade features 3D-printed nodes and carbon fiber rods to create an ultralightweight chassis. (Image courtesy of Divergent 3D.)
The Blade features 3D-printed nodes and carbon fiber rods to create an ultralightweight chassis. (Image courtesy of Divergent 3D.)

Divergent 3D may be a potentially game-changing start-up due to the fact that it aims to overhaul the way we manufacture automobiles. Rather than use massive stamping and tooling operations, the company has developed a hardware and software platform for building cars with 3D-printed metal nodes. These nodes are connected to one another using carbon fiber tubes already in use in the aerospace industry, making the basis for the car's chassis. According to Divergent 3D, this will not only lower the barrier to entry for auto manufacturing, but will also significantly reduce the greenhouse gases emitted to produce cars.

A 3D-printed NODE aligns and self-fixtures carbon fiber rods for the chassis of Divergent 3D vehicles. (Image courtesy of Divergent 3D.)
A 3D-printed NODE aligns and self-fixtures carbon fiber rods for the chassis of Divergent 3D vehicles. (Image courtesy of Divergent 3D.)

€1.945 billion R&D firm Altran made a minority investment in the start-up and will provide engineering services to speed up the development of Divergent 3D's technology and implementation of its licensing. Together, the two companies will go to market in the United States, Europe and China.

Rob Vatter, CEO of Altran North America, said of the partnership, “By teaming up with Divergent 3D, Altran takes a step to further develop its presence in the United States, which is a priority market for the group, as part of the Altran 2020 Ignition strategic plan. Divergent 3D is a like-minded critical thinker who is as focused as we are on addressing and managing complexity for clients. The dramatic transformation the auto industry is facing must take into consideration not only how to leverage disruptive innovation, but also how to reduce the capital required to bring connected and intelligent vehicles to market. This partnership will address both considerations by streamlining the process of creating and integrating complex systems that will make up the cars of the near and distant future. At the same time, Divergent 3D's platform will help us optimize our customers' value chains by lowering costs and speeding up development timelines.”

So far, Divergent 3D has only built the Blade supercar with its Divergent Manufacturing Platform, but in an interview with ENGINEERING.com, CEO Kevin Czinger explained that it had demonstrated its technology to PSA Group and Altran, and that these new partnerships are further evidence that the technology is worth believing in. If, as the start-up suggests, Divergent 3D can reduce the weight of a five-person car by 50 percent, the number of parts by 75 percent and the up-front capital by over 10 times the amount of tooling and stamping equipment, then we may all hope that Altran can help speed up the commercialization process for Divergent's technology.

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