Additive Manufacturing and Artificial Intelligence Combine for an Automated Solution

By Clare Scott

If you’ve been attuned to the additive manufacturing world, you’ve likely heard of Divergent Technologies. The California-based company is known for using AM to produce sports cars. As far back as 2015, Divergent unveiled its first concept car, known as the Blade. The car’s chassis was made using 3D-printed aluminum alloy, and it eventually evolved into the Czinger 21C, which is being manufactured in a small production run of 80 units by the more recently established Czinger Vehicles.

In addition to leading the way with its use of AM for automobiles, Divergent is also a pioneer in automation. Its Divergent Adaptive Production System (DAPS) is a modular digital factory capable of designing and building complex structures such as cars with minimal human intervention. When a set of digital requirements is input, the system automatically computationally engineers, additively manufactures, and assembles the structure.

The Czinger 21C, courtesy of Czinger Vehicles

DAPS is said to greatly reduce the time required to manufacture the cars, as well as contributing to sustainable manufacturing practices. The system moves seamlessly between different automobile models, all of them based on generative design. According to the company, no material is wasted in production, with each part precisely made according to the system’s artificial intelligence. Powder bed fusion is used to additively manufacture the cars with patented alloys. Once the parts are printed, they are assembled into the final structure using high-accuracy laser-guided robotics.

DAPS has attracted the attention of many, and earlier this year, Divergent partnered with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to leverage the technology for the latter’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones. This partnership followed the 2022 joint development program between the two companies. GA-ASI’s AM, aircraft integrity, material, and design engineering teams are working with Divergent to adapt, apply, and qualify DAPS for the production of aircraft.

GA-ASI’s unmanned aircraft systems, courtesy of GA-ASI

In the partners’ first project, a small UAS with a 3D-printed integrated metal structure was created, resulting in a lightweight aircraft with part count reduced by over 95%, from 180 parts to four. The four nodes of the UAS were each additively manufactured in under 13 hours. The DAPS technology was used to inspect each of the additively manufactured parts by creating a small digital twin of the UAS. The digital twin was then applied to a fully automated, tool-less robotic assembly process that was completed in less than 20 minutes. The team went from design to fully assembled airframe in less than two days.

Development cost was cut by 50%, and recurring cost savings are estimated at 50 to 75%. The success of both Divergent and GA-ASI in using DAPS demonstrates how AI and AM can be combined for automated solutions that reduce time, cost, and waste.

Wohlers Report 2024

Wohlers Report 2024

Technical, market, and strategic advice on Additive Manufacturing 3D Printing Rapid Product Development

Related Press & News

November 17, 2023

How Additive Manufacturing Can Help Fix the Supply Chain

By Clare Scott A supply chain crisis has been affecting the world in recent years, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic….

Read More
October 25, 2023

Challenges and Future Trends in Additive Manufacturing

By Clare Scott Additive manufacturing is advancing quickly, but challenges and limitations still remain. The amount of progress that has…

Read More
October 4, 2023

Space-based Bioprinting: New Advancement in Tissue Engineering

By Clare Scott 3D bioprinting is one of the most fascinating, and perhaps the most misunderstood, areas of 3D printing….

Read More

Learn more about ASTM and AM CoE

ASTM unites with the Wohlers brand to build on its market influence and access to top AM industry decision-makers worldwide.

  • Establish standards, certification, and qualification for repeatable, consistent parts and processes
  • Prevent gaps and duplication of work in a dynamic, fast-paced technology space
  • Identify challenges that can be solved with technological improvement

Research and Development

Under the leadership of the R&D team, the AM CoE partners plan and conduct coordinated R&D projects, prioritized annually and targeted to expedite...

Learn More

Education and Workforce Development

Provide a comprehensive program that educates and trains the additive manufacturing workforce at all levels, while continually incorporating new advances...

Learn More