Imagine a startup co-founded by father and son engineers, based in the United States, that builds a world-class, record-breaking supercar. Now, imagine that the car mounts are 3D-printed metal, designed by artificial intelligence, and assembled by robots.
It sounds far-fetched, even for Silicon Valley, but the team of Kevin Kzinger and Lucas Kzinger did just that.
Yahoo Finance had the chance to visit the Czinger Automobile Plant near Los Angeles, California, where Kevin and his son, Lukas, shocked the auto industry, with their standard 21C supercar. The 21C broke production lap records at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Racetrack in Salinas, California, and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
What makes this so impressive is that the 21C was made by Czinger’s team in a small warehouse outside of Los Angeles, where the two founders created a 3D printing process using sand-sized aluminum particles, which are laser-fused on outside-this-world, almost bizarre-looking parts.
The parts look almost organic in nature because the team uses AI to design a part that is lightweight, robust and just the right size for ultimate performance. Manufactured using robots in a circular assembly line, the parts are almost like ballet dance making the parts in an efficient and versatile way.
It is Henry Ford’s assembly line that has been transported into the third dimension.
“When you bring these [processes] Together they allow you to create structures like this never before seen, says Kevin Kzinger, founder and CEO of Czinger, in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
“What you can do is use this computing to create a perfectly optimized architecture in 3 dimensions, use 3D printing to materialize this perfectly designed structure, and then use automation to have a global assembler that brings any perfect structures together, seamlessly.”
This revolutionary process (which includes more than 100 patents) is how the team designed and built the C21 supercar. Only 80 cars will be built, although the company revealed a new concept a few weeks ago in Monterey Hyper GT Grand Touring Coupe.
Although there is a lot of excitement about the cars that Czinger makes, what has piqued the interest of many in the auto industry is what Czinger and its sister company, Divergent Technologies are doing to bring the manufacturing process to other automakers.
And just a few weeks ago, Divergent Technologies announced a deal with British luxury car maker Aston Martin (AML.L) to make a rear assembly for the new DBR22 Roadster.
The outsourcing manufacturing project would potentially be a big deal for Divergent, as it provides a steady flow of customers and funds for the company to expand its end-to-end 3D printing and robotics assembly process. The team believes it will be able to install robotic assemblies on the customer’s factory floors as well.
The Czinger duo thinks this makes sense for auto companies because it’s cheaper to own dissimilar building parts for them, rather than the capital-intensive process of making parts the traditional way — with castings, stamps, even forging.
“Comparing the capital bet you make in cars today, you’re saying ‘I’m going to invest X hundreds of millions in a new stamping and casting facility, I’m going to consume that from over X hundreds of thousands of sales annually, over a Y number of years – that’s a pretty big bet,'” “With us, you look to Divergent and Czinger, and we’ll be your outsourced manufacturing partner, and you pay us on a unit basis — that’s a very scalable and attractive economic structure,” Lukas Czinger told Yahoo Finance.
Now comes the big bet for Czinger and Divergent, as they are investing heavily in more 3D printers and robot assemblies, in order to make parts for traditional automakers, as well as for Czinger’s burgeoning car business.
The father-and-son pair say they have more deals to announce with major automakers, in the coming months.