Interview: Kevin Czinger on AMUG Conference 2022 and how 3D printing can help unlock a new class of hypercar

As Founder of Divergent Technologies, the developer of a novel platform designed to serve as an alternative to entire automotive production lines, Kevin Czinger knows a thing or two about building cars. 

In fact, the Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS) honed by his firm has become such an effective ‘digital vehicle factory,’ that it’s already being used at Czinger’s second business: Czinger Vehicles. There, the technology is being deployed to build the 1,250 horsepower 21C, a revolutionary hypercar that doesn’t just feature 3D printed trim, but load-bearing performance-critical parts. 

Now, ahead of his keynote speech at this year’s Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Conference, the innovator has sat down exclusively with 3D Printing Industry, to reveal all on DAPS’ potential to shake up automotive manufacturing. 

“DAPS can design, print, and assemble fully-optimized structures at an industrial rate,” explains Czinger. “Our vehicles represent the apex of that production technology, and the business model it enables — fabless car manufacturing. We seek to drive the transition between the existing 100-year-old analog tooling and stamping approach, to auto manufacturing and full digital manufacturing.”

AMUG keynote speakers Ellen Lee and Kevin Czinger.
AMUG’s 2022 keynote speakers Ellen Lee and Kevin Czinger. Image via AMUG.

Building a ‘manufacturing ecosystem’

Since establishing Divergent Technologies in 2014, Czinger has built it into a fully-qualified Tier 1 automotive supplier, and it now provides vehicle chassis and suspension systems to many major OEMs. Naturally, the firm’s capabilities revolve around DAPS, a combined software-hardware solution, which replaces multiple vehicle production steps with an all-in-one, modular car-building platform. 

By integrating 3D printing into DAPS, the company has made it flexible to the point that it’s become model-agnostic, so it can be used to manufacture vehicles with multiple different specs on the same system. When given a set of digital requirements, DAPS is, therefore, able to automatically computationally engineer, 3D print, and assemble complex structures, without needing manual configuration. 

What’s more, in deploying additive manufacturing within such builds, the platform produces less waste than subtractive car production processes, making it relatively economical as well. However, speaking ahead of his AMUG keynote, where he intends to delve deeper into DAPS, Czinger explained that 3D printing is only part of a process that represents a leap “from the Selectric typewriter to a Mac desktop.”

“We didn’t adopt 3D printing, we started with a clean sheet approach to digital manufacturing as a system,” elaborated Czinger. “We looked at the capital, material, energy inefficiency and design constraints of existing analog auto-manufacturing, and architected and built a full end-to-end digital manufacturing system, of which additive manufacturing is one of the integrated sub-systems.”

“We are automating and digitizing the full system functionality of design, manufacture and assembly from scratch, not simply trying to integrate offered solutions into an existing manufacturing system.”

The Czinger 21C. Photo via Czinger.
The DAPS-built Czinger 21C. Photo via Czinger Vehicles.

Taking on the hypercar world

Now putting the technology developed by its parent firm into practice, Czinger Vehicles is on a self-proclaimed mission to “change the way cars are designed and manufactured for generations to come.” This vision may sound bold, but it’s now starting to take shape in the form of the 21C, a $2 million hypercar driven by two EVs and a 2.88 liter V8, that enables it to go from 0-62 mph in 1.9 seconds. 

“The 21C is a strong hybrid powertrain vehicle,” as Czinger himself puts it. “With two body variants, a high downforce body for high-speed cornering and low drag body for fast acceleration and top speed, this enables us to take on all hypercar competitors across the full range of performance metrics, from production track records at places like COTA to setting records for the production quarter-mile.”

Still in development, the 21C is said to feature multiple SLM Solutions-3D printed parts, including an Inconel exhaust system and windshield binder, with sufficient strength and integrity for deployment at extremely high speeds. Thanks to its 1,250 horsepower output and ultra-light 1,200-kilogram weight, the exotic is even set to be quick enough to challenge performance EVs like Tesla’s Roadster

In terms of the vehicle’s construction, just 80 are set to be built in total, and Czinger not only confirmed that the first deliveries remain on course for 2023, but that his firm has already taken the hypercar down to the Laguna Seca and COTA race tracks, where it smashed the production car lap records, before teasing that the 21C will have “ultra-performance” successors in the decade to come. 

Automotive at AMUG Conference 2022 

As ever, AMUG’s 2022 Conference promises to be one of the highlights of the 3D printing calendar, with attendees getting the chance to make contacts, take advantage of training opportunities and gain the insights of industry leaders.

At this year’s event, Czinger is set to deliver one of two keynote speeches, in which he says he plans to “focus on how one builds a clean-sheet architected digital system, and then commercializes it.” With the other keynote being delivered by Ellen Lee, a Ford veteran who heads the firm’s 3D printing research, participants therefore stand to hear from both established and disruptive automotive innovators.

“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,” adds Jordan Weston, AMUG’s Director of Education & Conference. “On one hand, we will have the perspective of a young company seeking to disrupt. On the other, we will hear from a large, established company seeking to adapt and lead.”

In addition to seeing Czinger and Lee’s keynotes live, attendees will gain access to a 150-strong schedule of presentations, discussions, workshops, and hands-on sessions across the event’s five days. The AMUG Technical Competition is also set to return, in a contest designed to recognize those really pushing the envelope, as are the Innovators’ Showcase, and ever-popular DINO Awards

For those interested in attending the AMUG 2022 Conference it’s not too late to register, and those that do so can still take advantage of a 27% registration fee discount if they sign up before March 11, 2022, with the fee covering tickets to the above as well as off-site gatherings, networking receptions and catered meals.

Prospective attendees can use the AMUG online registration form to apply now.

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Featured image shows the Czinger 21C. Photo via Czinger Vehicles.