Jul 13, 2016 | By Tess

Production of spare parts with tools produced through additive manufacturing

German automaker BMW Group has been a pioneer for the adoption of additive manufacturing technologies within the auto industry. Last November, for instance, the company celebrated its 25 years of using 3D printing technologies, and now it has announced it will continue to expand the uses of additive manufacturing within its series part production processes. In line with the expansion, BMW will pursue the integration of HP’s Multi-Jet Fusion technology in their manufacturing. The planar 3D printing method is expected to further reduce costs and production times for auto parts.

Tool production with stereo-lithography 

Since 2012, BMW has been integrating 3D printed parts into its series production. Impressively, luxury brand Rolls-Royce (a subsidiary of BMW Group) has announced that its famous Phantom model now has over 10,000 3D printed components built into it. These parts include plastic holders for hazard-warning lights, center lock buttons, electronic parking brakes, sockets, and more. According to the company, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has continued to further integrate 3D printed components into their Dawn luxury car model, as they’ve introduced 3D printed mounting brackets for fiber-optic cables into its structure over the past year.

Rolls-Royce Phantom

Additively manufactured clips for Rolls-Royce Phantom

Additive manufacturing technologies have offered the auto industry a number of benefits, including faster turnaround times for prototypes, and increasingly a more cost and time efficient production process for complex and high-quality end-use parts.

Udo Hänle, Head of Production Strategy and Technical Integration for BMW Group, explains in a press release, “Additive technologies will be one of the main production methods of the future for the BMW Group – with promising potential. The integration of additively-manufactured components into Rolls-Royce series production is another important milestone for us on the road to using this method on a large-scale. By utilising new technologies, we will be able to shorten production times further in the future and increasingly exploit the potential of tool-less manufacturing methods.”

Selective-Laser-Melting Facility

Production of metal parts from powder through Selective-Laser-Melting 

3D-Scan of 3D printed part for dimensional check

As mentioned, BMW Group is not only increasing their applications for 3D printed parts, but is also exploring new additive manufacturing technologies, such as planar printing processes. According to Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Centre, planar printing technologies, such as HP’s Multi Jet Fusion systems can enable even faster production times than standard point-to-point 3D printing methods. By combining print heads and liquid agents with infrared radiation during the printing process, planar systems have opened up the doors for both faster and more flexible manufacturing.

Ertel says, “Planar technologies are central to the use of additive processes in series production. The most recent example can be found in the preliminary trials of the HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. The process will initially be used in prototyping, but we plan to extend it into series production over the long term.” In the wake of the HP Multi Jet Fusion unveiling, BMW announced that it would be employing the new 3D printing technology for serial part production and customized parts.

Even before HP’s game-changing announcement, however, BMW Group was exploring other innovative planar 3D printing methods such as Continuous Liquid Interface Production, better known as CLIP. The German automaker used the CLIP process in the manufacturing of customized side indicators for the “DriveNow” car-sharing project. To promote the car-sharing initiative, BMW asked Germans to vote for names for 100 of the MINIs that were to be put on the road. When the names were decided, they were 3D printed using CLIP technology and integrated into each car’s indicator body.

Overall, BMW Group has been a pioneer of additive manufacturing technologies within the auto industry, having employed the technology to add customization to their products, and to allow for more small series production runs. Impressively, and to reinforce the company’s commitment to the growing technology, BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Centre reportedly processes almost 25,000 prototype orders and delivers more than 100,000 3D printed components a year to its clients. Because of the technology’s efficiency, many of these parts can even be delivered within only a few days.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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