Automotive

Shanghai commits to Divergent 3D printed electric vehicle production

The Divergent 3D node-based additive manufacturing technology, used to make the Blade supercar, is to be the driver of a new electric vehicle (EV) production plant in Shanghai.

The forthcoming factory is a joint development between EV investment firm We Solutions, and Shanghai Alliance Investment, a private equity and venture capital arm of Shanghai Municipal Government.

“The EV market in China is at an inflection point, with unparalleled growth in demand and government policy stimulus,” says Eric Ho King-fung, chairman of We Solutions in an article for the South China Morning Post.

“It will only be a matter of time before policies come out stating that old vehicles have to be abolished. As a result we have to get ready, not only for the EV industry but for the world’s largest automobile industry. That’s why we’re entering the market.”

The Divergent Manufacturing Platform

Headquartered in LA, Divergent 3D has developed The Divergent Manufacturing Platform – a modular method of building car chassis. The method relies on 3D printed aluminum “Nodes” connected to 3D printed carbon-fiber rods. By building cars in this way, the company aims to cut down on emissions produced by traditional car manufacturing, an initiative that goes hand in hand with the electric power initiatives.

The Node - rod set up of the Divergent Manufacturing Platform. Image via Divergent 3D
The Node – rod set up of the Divergent Manufacturing Platform. Image via Divergent 3D

In a strategic partnership with Germany’s SLM Solutions, Divergent has been working to scale-up its technology for industrial production. The new factory in Shanghai, according to Divergent CEO Kevin Czinger, is to be a “showcase factory” that demonstrates The Divergent Manufacturing Platform.

“This would be the first large-scale factory to start building in Asia vehicles and vehicle structures based on 3D printing,” adds Czinger,

“The plan is to have some reference parts of the factory operating in the second half of 2019.”

Divergent Blade chassis. Image credit: C.C. Weiss/New Atlas

A billion dollar opportunity 

In 2017 We Solutions closed a $23 million investment in Divergent 3D, alongside Shanghai Alliance Investment and Horizon Ventures – a technological investment firm founded by billionaire and business magnate Li Ka-Shing. As of September 2017, Ka-Shing also become a major investor of the We Solutions group.

In the same month, We Solutions acquired Japanese electric supercar developer GLM, that produced the GLM G4.

The GLM-G4 electric supercar at the 2016 Paris Auto Show. Photo via PRNewsFoto/GLM Press Office
The GLM-G4 electric supercar at the 2016 Paris Auto Show. Photo via PRNewsFoto/GLM Press Office

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Featured image shows the Divergent Blade. Image credit: C.C. Weiss/New Atlas

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