BMW Plans Additive Manufacturing Campus

Production of spare parts with tools produced through additive manufacturing (Source: BMW)

The BMW Group is to invest more than ten million euros in a new Additive Manufacturing Campus. Located in Oberschleissheim, just north of Munich, the facility will allow the company to continue developing its expertise in this field of work.

Udo Hänle, head of Production Integration and Pilot Plant: “Our new Additive Manufacturing Campus will concentrate the full spectrum of the BMW Group’s 3D printing expertise at a single location. This will allow us to test new technologies early on and continue developing our pioneering role.”

Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Center and the future campus director, adds: “Our new facility will be a major milestone in additive manufacturing at the BMW Group. The team there will evaluate new and existing technologies in both plastics and metals printing and develop them to series maturity. Our goal is to provide the optimum technology and process chain, be it for individual components, small production runs or even large-scale manufacturing.”

Within the BMW Group production network, the new campus will foster the latest technologies in this field in much the same way as a pilot plant and make them available for use within the network. Much of the work carried out there will focus on parts manufacturing for prototype construction, series production, and customized solutions. The Additive Manufacturing Campus will also act as an interdisciplinary training and project area, for instance for development engineers. Located in an existing building with a footprint of over 6,000 square meters, it will accommodate up to eighty associates and over thirty industrial systems for metals and plastics. It is scheduled to go on stream in early 2019.

The new BMW i8 Roadster with metal 3D printed parts. (Source: BMW / photonicsviews.com)

Additive manufacturing is an integral part of the BMW Group production system and harbours significant potential for series production. Most recently it has been used to generate parts for the BMW i8 Roadster. Jens Ertel: “With the BMW i8 Roadster, we became the first carmaker to 3D-print a production run of several thousand metal parts. The component concerned is a fixture in the tonneau cover for the soft-top.” Made of aluminum alloy, the printed item is lighter than the normal injection-molded equivalent but significantly more rigid. Its ‘bionic’ geometry, inspired by forms found in nature, was optimized for 3D printing purposes.

The BMW Group expects that, with time, it will become possible to produce components directly where they are ultimately needed – an idea that harbors tremendous potential. Jens Ertel: “The 3D printers that are currently operating across our production network represent a first step towards local part production. We are already using additive manufacturing to make prototype components on location in Spartanburg (US), Shenyang (China) and Rayong (Thailand). Going forward, we could well imagine integrating it more fully into local production structures to allow small production runs, country-specific editions and customizable components – provided it represents a profitable solution.” This would make additive manufacturing a useful addition to existing production technologies.

Thanks to its tremendous scope for the rapid manufacture of quality parts of almost any geometry, additive manufacturing has been in use in the construction of concept cars at the BMW Group since 1991. Components are realized purely using digital data, eliminating the need for classic tools such as press tools and injection molds. At present, the technology is most commonly used for small production runs of customized and often highly complex components. (Source: BMW)

Link: Web special 3D printing, BMW Group, Munich, Germany

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