Volkswagen, Ford, and GM are all promising official end parts (as opposed to emergency end parts) to be 3D printed for upcoming vehicles. However, we’re still waiting for additive manufacturing (AM) to fully break into the mainstream automotive market. While we wait, auto sports and luxury brand manufacturers continue to introduce 3D printed end parts into their cars. The latest model comes from Aston Martin, whose DBR22 features an entirely 3D printed rear subframe made by Divergent Technologies.
The limited edition DBR22 is meant to be a tribute to the auto sports roots of the British company. These included the DB3S and the DBR1, with the latter winning Le Mans in 1959. Developed by Aston Martin’s Q division, dedicated to custom and one-off vehicles, the DBR22 features a carbon fiber body with lines reminiscent of its racing predecessors. Only a small number of these cars will be produced, meaning that a select few customers will get to experience the DBR22’s 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine, and the 705 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque it produces.
The individual parts for the rear subframe of the vehicle were 3D printed in aluminum and bonded together, resulting in “significant” weight reduction. Aston suggests that it could apply the same process for other low-volume models going forward. This should be good news for Divergent Technologies, the maker of the components and assembly.
Divergent’s 3D Printing Technology
Lukas Czinger, senior vice president of Operations at Divergent, posted on LinkedIn, “Very excited to see some of our OEM programs come into the public light! The Divergent team has had the great pleasure of working with on [sp] of the worlds [sp] great brands, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd, on existing and next generation production performance vehicles.” He confirmed to 3DPrint.com that Divergent is “printing and assembling the frame and supplying the frame to [Aston Martin] as a Tier 1.”
Divergent has, so far, been unable to publicly name most of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that is has been collaborating with, but CEO Kevin Czinger says that they include eight of the top ten global auto OEM groups. If we can count Aston Martin among them, then that leaves seven more to figure out.
The company deploys SLM Solutions’ 12-laser metal 3D printers to produce parts that are then assembled using specialty tape materials in a proprietary robotic cell. Its Czinger Vehicles subsidiary plans on releasing a coupe and an SUV, in addition to the Czinger 21C hypercar, as it builds micro-factories globally. The technology and business model have been enough to earn the company some $251.9 million in funding.
Aston Martin’s History with 3D Printing
Aston has been using AM in its production process since at least 2016, when engineering firm Grainger & Worrall was tasked with applying metal 3D printing for the engine block of the DB11. In 2019, it began a partnership with Domin to explore 3D printing of suspension parts and introduced the AM-RB 003 concept car with numerous printed parts.
The DBR22 debuts at Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, Sunday, August 21, 2022. Pricing and production volume has not yet been released, but those looking to purchase one will likely be able to customize their cars to a high level. Perhaps we can expect more 3D printed parts in this customization process.
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