Imagine a startup co-founded by father and son engineers, based in the U.S., making a world-class, record-beating hypercar. Now, imagine the car’s underpinnings are 3D-printed metallic, designed by artificial intelligence, and assembled by robots.
It sounds far-fetched, even for Silicon Valley, but the team of Kevin Czinger and Lukas Czinger have done just that.
Yahoo Finance had the chance to visit the Czinger vehicles factory near Los Angeles, California, – where Kevin and his son Lukas are shocking the automotive industry, with the record 21C hypercar. The 21C smashed production car lap records at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Racetrack in Salinas, California, and Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
What makes this so impressive is the 21C is made by the Czinger team in a small warehouse outside of Los Angeles, where the two cofounders pioneered a 3-D printing process using aluminum particles the size of sand, that are laser fused into out-of-this-world, almost alien-looking parts.
The parts look almost organic in nature because the team uses AI to design a part that is lightweight, strong, and appropriate in size for ultimate performance. The parts are constructed using robots in a circular assembly line, an almost ballet-like dance that makes the parts in an efficient, versatile way.
It’s Henry Ford’s assembly line taken to the third dimension.
“When you bring those [processes] together they allow you to create structures like this frame that have never been seen before,” Czinger founder and CEO Kevin Czinger says in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
“What you’re able to do is use that computing to literally create in 3 dimensions a perfectly optimized structure, use 3D printing to materialize that perfectly designed structure, and then use automation to have a universal assembler assemble any perfect structures together, seamlessly.”
This revolutionary process (which counts over 100 patents) is how the team designed and built the C21 hypercar. Only 80 of the cars will be built, though the company revealed a new concept a few weeks back in Monterey, the Hyper GT grand touring coupe.
Though there is plenty of excitement around the vehicles Czinger is making, what has many in the automotive industry intrigued is what Czinger, and its sister company Divergent Technologies, are doing to bring its manufacturing process to other automakers.
And just a few weeks back Divergent Technologies just announced a deal with British luxury automaker Aston Martin (AML.L) to make a rear assembly for its new DBR22 roadster.
The outsourced manufacturing venture is potentially a big business for Divergent, as it provides a steady stream of clients and money for the company to expand its 3D-printing operation and universal robot assembly. The team thinks it will be able to install robot assemblers on client factory floors too.
The Czinger duo believe this makes sense for car companies because it is cheaper to have Divergent build parts for them, instead of the heavily capital-intensive process of making parts the traditional way – with castings, stampings, and even forging.
“Compared to the capital bet you make in auto today, you say ‘I’m going to invest X hundreds of millions in a new stamping and casting facility, I’m going to amortize that off over X hundreds of thousands of sales per year, over Y number of years’ – that is a very cap-ex heavy bet to make,” Lukas Czinger told Yahoo Finance. “With us, you look to Divergent and Czinger, we will be your outsource manufacturing partner, you pay us on a unit basis – that is a scalable, very attractive, economic structure.”
Now comes the big bet for Czinger and Divergent, investing heavily in more 3D printers and robot assemblers, in order to make parts for traditional automakers, as well as for the burgeoning Czinger vehicles business.
The father and son pair say they have more deals to announce with big automakers, in the coming months.
Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.
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