Hexagon AB has been steadily increasing its presence in 3D printing and, this time, the Swedish tech giant has laid down a significant amount of capital into one of the most promising startups in the space. Hexagon has invested $100 million into Divergent Technologies to further boost its 3D printing and automated assembly technology.
Divergent has received no shortage of press for the flashy hypercars it has made for its subsidiary, Czinger Vehicles. CEO Kevin Czinger has also been regularly discussing his Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS) in lectures around the world. While he fashions himself into the image of the modern tech CEO, Czinger is presenting a truly novel technology that automates and optimizes key processes throughout the entire production chain: artificial intelligence (AI)-driven generative design helps create the end model to be 3D printed and then assembled by industrial robots.
For the moment, DAPS produces car assemblies for Czinger Vehicles and major auto manufacturers. Czinger will be expanding its portfolio beyond HyperCard to include luxury sedans and SUVs. However, the CEO has noted that his modular factory concept could be used to produce just about anything. The latest press release notes, “Regardless of the design, part manufacturing and assembly can be carried out using the same hardware infrastructure, enabling quick design iterations or seamless switches between different vehicle models without downtime. The design-agnostic process is less energy- and resource-intensive, delivers more efficient structures faster and achieves weight reductions between 20% and 70% leading to dramatic improvements in vehicle efficiency.”
“We are humbled and honoured to be partnering with Hexagon” said Kevin Czinger, Divergent’s Founder and CEO. “Having their vote of confidence in what we’ve built and our vision for the future of manufacturing brings new energy and enthusiasm to our team.This significant investment will allow us to accelerate our plans to build a global network of DAPS factories, each serving multiple OEM clients,” said Lukas Czinger, Divergent’s SVP of Operations and Czinger Vehicles Co-Founder. “We look forward to a long-term relationship with Hexagon as Divergent and Czinger Vehicles scale.”
The idea of using the same modular factory to go from producing a car to making, say, a drone is a revolutionary one. And, as a digital workflow, DAPS would naturally be relevant to Hexagon’s own operations. In 3D printing, Hexagon suggests its products can be used anywhere along the workflow, from design and material characterization to part and process simulation, as well as quality assurance (QA). This last area would be one area that I think could be particularly useful for a company like Divergent. As it seeks to automate every step of the production process, QA would need to be performed using scanners and software as well.
“Manufacturing a car’s parts has a much greater impact on the environment than the car’s exhaust emissions, which is why new manufacturing concepts will win,” says Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén. “We must find ways to empower car makers with more efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes that minimise material usage and total system cost. Incremental steps are simply not enough to save the planet. In my keynote speech at HxGN LIVE Global 2022, I delivered a message of hope for a sustainable future by naming the culprit aloud: all of us,” continued Rollén. “While the steep climb in emissions over the last 30 years happened on our watch, none of us want to go down in history as the CO2 Generation – the one that polluted and warmed this planet. For that reason, Hexagon continues to invest in disruptive and unconventional technologies that make giant leaps forward. We are the perfect partner to ensure quality is delivered throughout this new, innovative manufacturing process. Together, Hexagon and Divergent will deliver the smart manufacturing concepts of the 21st Century.”
Getting the impressive technology that Divergent has developed to market is no easy endeavor. While Czinger will be able to finance the work to some extent as it sells its 21C hypercars, it’s difficult to determine at what stage a company like this could become profitable. CEO Czinger has said that the firm has numerous clients from leading car manufacturers, though their names have not yet been revealed. That is, except for Aston Martin, which had Divergent 3D print a rear subframe for its DBR22. With that in mind, it’s possible that the jobs it has been hired out for from a variety of vehicle manufacturers could ultimately pay for the business itself. Regardless of the extent to which Divergent needs the cash, Hexagon would definitely want a seat at the table of a company that could completely reshape manufacturing as we move into a resource-scarce world.
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