BMW is opening an additive manufacturing centre to pool its expertise

Published on June 29, 2020 by Carlota V.

The car manufacturer BMW has just opened a centre dedicated to additive manufacturing: the Additive Manufacturing Campus in Oberschleissheim, north of Munich. Announced in 2019, this opening should enable the German group to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing in its activities, both for prototypes and series production. Having benefited from an investment of €15 million, the centre will also focus on research into new 3D printing technologies and associated training for the global roll-out of tool-less production. In this way, the group hopes to become a leader in 3D printing technologies in the automotive sector.

BMW has been focusing on additive manufacturing for more than 25 years, with very promising results, claiming to have 3D printed more than one million parts by the end of 2018. In fact, a number of projects including 3D printed parts, such as the BMW i8 Roadster, are worth mentioning. Milan Nedeljković, member of the BMW AG Board of Directors and responsible for production, explains: “Additive manufacturing is already an integral part of our global production system today, and is established in our digitisation strategy. In the future, new technologies of this kind will further reduce production times and enable us to exploit the potential of tool-free manufacturing even more fully“. The group relies in particular on strong partnerships with Carbon but also Desktop Metal.


In particular, BMW has invested in Desktop Metal machines | Credits: BMW

BMW’s additive manufacturing centre

The manufacturer explains that its new campus currently employs 80 people and is equipped with around 50 industrial, polymer and metal 3D printing solutions. In addition, there are 50 other 3D printers spread around the world. These include HP Multi Jet Fusion, EOS, SLM, Carbon, Desktop Metal and Nexa3D machines. Daniel Schäfer, Senior Vice President, Production Integration and Pilot Plant Integration, BMW Group, adds: “Our goal is to increasingly industrialise 3D printing methods for automotive production and to implement new automation concepts in the process chain. This will enable us to streamline the manufacture of components for series production and accelerate development. At the same time, we are collaborating with vehicle development, component production, purchasing and the supplier network, as well as with various other areas of the company to systematically integrate the technology and use it efficiently“. The numerous printing solutions at the BMW centre should therefore enable higher production volumes, more complex parts to be produced in order to design the vehicles of the future.

In addition to production and rapid prototyping, a unit at the BMW centre will be dedicated to research and optimisation of new materials, technologies and processes: the aim of the German group is to automate the additive manufacturing process as much as possible in order to make it even more viable and economical in the long term. To this end, it has begun the Industrialisation and Digitisation of Additive Manufacturing for Automotive Series Production (IDAM) project, which consists of reproducing the entire production chain, from the preparation of digital production to the manufacture and reprocessing of components. Production is expected to reach at least 50,000 series components per year, with more than 10,000 individual and spare parts.

The HP Multi Jet Fusion from BMW’s additive manufacturing centre | Credits: BMW

The other project set up is called POLYLINE, focused on the mass production of plastic parts. The objective is to develop a consistent quality assurance methodology for the entire process chain as well as a digital link of the process steps, enabling manufacturing costs to be reduced by 50%.

Finally, the centre offers training courses in 3D printing to its employees so that they can all become familiar with the technology. Jens Ertel, Director of the Additive Manufacturing Campus, concludes: “To successfully deploy these technologies, we need well-trained colleagues throughout the network who fully understand the benefits and features. To use them, designers will need to adopt a new way of thinking and an entirely new approach when designing the next components. 3D printing makes it possible to produce almost any shape, paving the way for new designs and features. “Find the full official press release HERE.

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