The BMW Group has used additive manufacturing in prototyping since 1990 and has continued to develop these technologies, also known as 3D printing, ever since. New additive manufacturing methods will further shorten production times. Tool-less production holds great potential for more economical and flexible production, as well as for individualisation of components. The company has also used these technologies in standard production since 2010.
ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING CAMPUS.
The BMW Group continues to expand its leading role in the use of additive manufacturing technology. As well as producing prototype and standard parts, the new Additive Manufacturing Campus near Munich also conducts research into new 3D printing technologies and holds staff training under the same roof. Up to 80 employees work at the new campus. In 2019, the company additively manufactured around 300,000 parts.
SERIAL PARTS FROM THE 3D PRINTER.
The BMW Group celebrated its first successful use of this technology in small-series production in 2010, with the additively-manufactured water pump wheel still fitted in its DTM vehicles to this day. Further use in standard production followed in 2012, with additively-manufactured plastic parts for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The BMW i8 Roadster also uses an additively-manufactured metal and plastic component in standard production.
The BMW Group gains access to the latest technologies through long-standing collaborations with leading automotive manufacturers and universities, and by scouting out newcomers to the industry. The BMW Group’s venture capital unit, BMW i Ventures, invested in the Silicon Valley-based company Carbon back in 2016. This was followed by further investments in the firms Desktop Metal and Xometry, as well as the German start-up ELISE.
RESEARCH AND PRELIMINARY DEVELOPMENT.
The BMW Group is an important partner within the collaborative research projects supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the field of additive manufacturing for metals and plastics. Working with project partners, this will pave the way for integrating these processes into the automotive industry’s standard production environment.
The team at the Additive Manufacturing Campus plans to offer individual consultation and training for staff in different areas of the company worldwide. This will ensure successful, targeted use of additive manufacturing and familiarise colleagues with the benefits and functionality the processes offer.