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BMW Group plans Additive Manufacturing Campus to build expertise in industrial 3D printing

17/04/2018
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The BMW Group is set to invest more than €10 million in a new Additive Manufacturing Campus to consolidate the company’s growing expertise in industrial-scale 3D printing. Located in Oberschleissheim, north of Munich, the facility will concentrate all of the Group’s additive manufacturing expertise in a single location.
The proposed BMW Additive Manufacturing Campus.
(The proposed BMW Additive Manufacturing Campus. Image via BMW Group).

Commenting on the plans, Udo Hanle, Head of Production Integration and Pilot Plant, said:

“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.”

Within the BMW Group production network, the new Additive Manufacturing 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 customised 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 metres, it will accommodate up to 80 associates and over 30 industrial systems for metals and plastics. It is scheduled to go on stream in early 2019.
Additive manufacturing will allow customers to customise their vehicle.
(Additive manufacturing will allow customers to customise their vehicle. Image via BMW Group).

Increasing the potential for vehicle customisation

The rise of additive manufacturing opens up a range of new possibilities for customising production vehicles. Already, BMW has produced customised 3D-printed parts for the BMW i8 Roadster. “With the BMW i8 Roadster, the BMW Group become the first car maker 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,” says Jens Ertel, Head of BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Centre.  BMW is also rolling out the MINI Yours Customised programme, which will allow customers to design certain components themselves, which will then be produced by BMW’s additive manufacturing team. Indicator inlays and dashboard trim strips are just a few examples of parts that can be custom made to the customer’s precise specifications thanks to the new technology.
Additive manufacturing opens up the potential for decentralised manufacturing- producing components directly where they are ultimately needed.
(Additive manufacturing opens up the potential for decentralised manufacturing- producing components directly where they are ultimately needed. Image via BMW Group).

Decentralising manufacturing

BMW Group hopes that, over time, it will become possible to produce components directly where they are ultimately needed. Commenting on the possibilities that this decentralised method of production offers, Jens Ertel said: “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 customisable components- provided it represents a profitable solution.”
With the BMW i8 Roadster, the BMW Group become the first car maker to 3D-print a production run of several thousand metal parts.
(With the BMW i8 Roadster, the BMW Group become the first car maker to 3D-print a production run of several thousand metal parts. Image via BMW Group).

Using digital production methods for vehicle development and manufacturing

Additive manufacturing has been in use in the construction of concept cars at the BMW Group since 1991 thanks to its tremendous scope for the rapid manufacture of quality parts of almost any geometry. Components can be realised using purely digital data, eliminating the need for classic tools such as press tools and injection moulds. At present, the technology is most commonly used for small production runs of customised and often highly complex components.

The rise of additive manufacturing in the Automotive industry

The BMW Group may be opening up a dedicated Additive Manufacturing Campus, but other automotive manufacturers are bound to follow suit. The decentralised, cost-efficient and customisation possibilities offered by additive manufacturing will surely prove too tempting to resist…

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BMW Group plans Additive Manufacturing Campus to build expertise in industrial 3D printing - Time to read 4 min
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