3D printing
3D printing

BMW prints a million car parts

Riley Riley

We predicted some time ago that 3D printing was going to have a huge impact on the car industry.

To illustrate the point, BMW has used 3D printing to produce more than a million parts for its cars over the last 10 years.

Output from BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Centre is expected to exceed more than 200,000 components this year — a massive 42 percent increase on last year.

Centre director Dr Jens Ertel said the use of components made by additive manufacturing in series production vehicles is increasing particularly strongly at the moment.

“We are following the development and application of advanced these manufacturing methods very closely indeed, partly through longstanding co-operations with leading manufacturers in the field,” he said.

“At the same time, we are engaging in targeted technology scouting and evaluating innovative production systems.”

3D printing is going to play a major role in the car industry.

Recently BMW produced and fitted its one millionth 3D-printed component.

The part was a window guide rail for the futuristic and of course electric i8 Roadster.

The rail took just five days to develop and was integrated into series production in Leipzig shortly after.

It is found in the door of the BMW i8 Roadster and allows the window to operate smoothly.

The component is manufactured by HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology, a high-speed method enhanced by the BMW Group in conjunction with HP and now in use in the series production of vehicles for the very first time.

It can produce up to 100 window guide rails in 24 hours.

The guide rail is the second 3D-printed component produced for use in the i8 Roadster.

The first was a fixture for the soft-top attachment.

Made of aluminium alloy, the metal component weighs less than the injection-moulded plastic part that is normally used, but is still considerably stiffer.

Personalisation of vehicles and components by customers themselves is also becoming increasingly important to the company.

With the MINI Yours Customised product initiative, customers can design selected components themselves, such as indicator inlays and dashboard trim strips.

They create their designs at the online shop here and the parts are then 3D-printed to specification.

The company first began using plastic and metal-based processes back in 2010, initially for the production of smaller series of components, such as the water pump pulley for DTM vehicles.

Further series applications followed in 2012, with various laser-sintered parts for the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Since last year, the fixtures for fibre optic guides in the Rolls-Royce Dawn have also been 3D-printed, and the luxury brand today incorporates a total of 10 3D-printed components.

BMW believes 3D printing will be a key future production method.

CHECKOUT: 3D printing will revolutionise car parts business

CHECKOUT: World’s first 3D printed brake caliper

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