May 18, 2018
Automaker BMW continues to expand its use of 3D printing. During the company’s Digital Day 2018 event in April in Mallorca, Spain, the company outlined some of the ways the company is using additive manufacturing.
The new BMW i8 Roadster includes a soft-top cover with an aluminum bracket that was made using metal powder laser melting. According to the company, the bracket is stronger and lighter than would have been possible with traditional casting.
One of the most interesting displays, however, was a 3D-printed motorcycle frame and swingarm. The frame was printed for the S1000RR bike. Although the company didn’t provide any information about the frame, it appeared to be made of an aluminum alloy.
The new MINI Yours Customized product line allows customers to personalize some design features using 3D printing. Under that program, customers can use an online tool to choose the surface finish, color, pattern, logos, and other features for interior trim, LED door sills, side scuttles, and other parts.
The automaker has been printing parts for several years, and used additive manufacturing to create parts of its DTM racing cars as far back as 2010. The DTM and Z4 GT3 use a 3D-printed water pump wheel. Rolls Royce, another BMW subsidiary, also uses 3D printed car parts in its Phantom model – more than 10,000 plastic components have been printed for the vehicles.
The Additive Manufacturing Center at the BMW Group Research and Innovation Centre in Munich also supplies roughly 140,000 prototype parts each year to the company’s different divisions.
According to Udo Hänle, head of production integration: “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.”
The new facility will accelerate development of additive manufacturing at the company. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for any updates on that intriguing motorcycle frame.