Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Ford and Czinger to Give Automotive 3D Printing Keynotes at AMUG 2022

ST Medical Devices

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As the 2022 AMUG Conference approaches, the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) has announced its keynote speakers. Headlining the event, set to take place in Chicago, Illinois from April 3-7, are Kevin Czinger, founder and CEO of Divergent 3D and Czinger Vehicles, and Ellen Lee, technical leader additive manufacturing research at Ford Motor Company.

While AMUG regularly hosts such big and exciting names, these keynotes may be particularly engaging this year, given the climate in the industry at the moment. With unprecedented levels of investment and established manufacturers embracing the technology, automotive is starting to reach the point where aerospace was almost a decade ago when the consumer hype bubble burst. Czinger and Lee will surely be able to provide some keen insights into this development.

Divergent Technologies founder and CEO Kevin Czinger with an additively manufactured component for the Czinger hypercar. Image courtesy of Divergent Technologies via LinkedIn.

Czinger represents two parallel startups using metal 3D printing to develop luxury vehicles. The CEO has touted his Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS), a unique software and workflow relying on 3D printed metal nodes that connect carbon fiber parts to build the body of a super- or hypercar, such as the Blade from Divergent 3D. That platform may be evolving, as Czinger explained at the Dyndrite conference in October 2021 that he will instead be 3D printing complete subassemblies of major sections of a car rather than nodes alone.

The Czinger 21C 3D printed supercar. Image courtesy of Czinger Vehicles.

The entrepreneur will be discussing his company’s plans and process on Tuesday April 3 at the AMUG Conference. We may even get a hint of what car manufacturers he is working with. According to the AMUG press release, Divergent 3D is working “with several major, unnamed automotive OEMs to break the barriers of serial production using additive manufacturing at scale.” One wonders if one of those OEMs is the PSA Groupe, with which Divergent announced a partnership in 2016, but with little subsequent news having since emerged.

Ford parking brake bracket 3D printed using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology. Image courtesy of Carbon.

Ellen Lee represents Ford, which has long used 3D printing as a prototyping and design tool in-house, but has more recently begun implementing the technology in ways that approach end part manufacturing. Just last year, the U.S. automaker said that it would be using ExOne’s metal binder jetting technique to 3D print metal end parts for “a very popular model” of Ford vehicle.

3D printed component for Ford by Desktop Metal. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

Lee has been with Ford for some 23 years, the last six of which have been as the technical leader for additive manufacturing (AM) research. To show off how the automaker uses AM and her expertise in the field, Lee will be presenting “Automotive Manufacturing to Additive Manufacturing: From History to the Future of Mobility” at the conference on Thursday, April 7. In this talk, she will be contextualizing the future of production, including mass customization, decentralized supply chains and digital manufacturing, in its past, discussing the crucial developments that have shaped modern auto production, such as the moving assembly line and new materials.

“It will be interesting to hear Kevin’s and Ellen’s ‘similar but different’ perspectives on the present and future of manufacturing in the automotive industry. On one hand, we will have the perspective of a young company seeking to disrupt. On the other hand, we will hear from a large, established company seeking to adapt and lead,” said Jordan Weston, AMUG director, education & conference. “Ellen represents a 118-year-old company that changed the game over a century ago yet continues to innovate in response to shifting demands. Kevin represents a company that will make its mark by changing the process, altering vehicle architectures, and localizing adaptive, sustainable manufacturing.”

In addition to the keynotes, AMUG will host an Insights and Highlights presentation on Monday, April 4, and the Innovators Showcase on Wednesday, April 6, both on the featured stage. In total, the event will have 150 presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and hands-on training. For more information or to register, visit the AMUG website.

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