BMW Group opens additive manufacturing campus
The BMW Group officially opened its new Additive Manufacturing Campus for business in Oberschleissheim, just outside Munich, late last month. The company says the new facility, which cost around €15 million to build, will bring together production of prototype and series parts, research into 3D printing technologies and associate training in tool-less manufacturing. The centre of excellence currently has around 80 associates. It operates around 50 industrial systems for processing metal and plastics, with over 50 more running at other production sites around the world.
The BMW Group has been using 3D printing — or additive manufacturing — for almost 30 years. In 1991, the technology was used to make prototype parts for concept cars. Later, small series of parts were produced for DTM race cars, the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the BMW i8 Roadster and the MINI, among others. The goal now is to make the manufacture of components for series production more efficient and speed up development processes. Last year alone, the BMW Group ‘printed’ over 300,000 parts.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production, stated, “Additive manufacturing is already an integral part of our worldwide production system today, and established in our digitalisation strategy. In the future, new technologies of this kind will shorten production times even further and allow us to benefit even more fully from the potential of tool-less manufacturing.”
“Our goal is to industrialise 3D printing methods more and more for automotive production, and to implement new automation concepts in the process chain,” added Daniel Schäfer, Senior Vice President for Production Integration and Pilot Plant at the BMW Group. “This will allow us to streamline component manufacturing for series production and speed up development.
“At the same time, we are collaborating with vehicle development, component production, purchasing and the supplier network,” he continued, “as well as various other areas of the company to systematically integrate the technology and utilise it effectively.”
For the development of AM processes for use on an industrial scale, research projects are especially important. BMW is involved in several of these projects, such as the Industrialisation and Digitisation of Additive Manufacturing for Automotive Series Production (IDAM) project, supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research.
With IDAM, the BMW Group and its 12 project partners hope to pave the way for the integration of AM into series production environments within the automotive industry. At the Additive Manufacturing Campus, a production line is being set up that replicates the entire process chain, from the preparation of digital production through to manufacture and reworking of components.
The IDAM team is now preparing it for the specific requirements of series, individual and spare-part production. According to the group, production targets confirm the status of this collaborative undertaking as a lighthouse project: output is expected to total at least 50,000 series components a year, with over 10,000 individual and spare parts, all produced to a very high quality.
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