At BMW, 3D Printing can transform Automotive Production

News from the 3D printing industry | 3 June 2019

Lots of topics are transforming automotive production: smart data, lightweight construction, electrified powertrains etc., but also 3D Printing! At the Rapid + TCT trade show, the German automaker underlines the development of Additive Manufacturing in the automotive sector. This technology can now create economies of scale if material costs are enough low.

We believe that additive manufacturing might change the way that we could produce our cars or components in the future in a dramatic way“, Dominik Rietzel, BMW Group’s head of additive manufacturing in the non-metals division.

BMW has been developing prototyping for decades and is using Additive Manufacturing to produce foam prototype parts for dashboards, for example. Each engineer can generate prototypes parts which can be personalized to improve the assembly process.

Pursuing its motivation to increase 3D printing technology usage, BMW is also developing its own 3D printing manufacturing process levels to have a generic approach and developed its own 3D printed components.

However, BMW wants to share this knowledge with the community, “so that everybody can really improve their processes and supply us with parts in the future”. In this way, BMW has strong partnerships with HP Inc., EOS GmbH and wishes also to work closely with technological start-ups.

According to the BMW Group’s head of additive manufacturing in the non-metal’s division, 3D printing changes the way the company produces but also the way they built their business model.

The launch of the Mini Yours Customized of BMW is a good example: customers can change and choose diverse components which are 3D printed. This kind of customization is unusual in the automotive industry. For this project, the automated production of BMW can manufacture 504 parts per week on 2 M2 Carbon Printers.

The automotive company still wants to improve its future usage of Additive Manufacturing and has defined 4 main topics to focus on for 3D printing within the global organization: “functional safeguarding for the approval process, individualization for all the different products offered, series production only where it makes sense and spare parts production where it is needed.”.

In conclusion, to go further in Additive Manufacturing, the car manufacturer will still have to identify technological development as well as the improvement and development of materials to expand totally 3D Printing manufacturing and to transform its business model.

Sources: Plastics News