The BMW Group has opened its new Additive Manufacturing Campus, which brings together production of prototype and series parts, along with research into 3D printing technologies, and associate training for the global rollout of toolless production.
The campus, which came at an investment of €15 million, will allow the BMW Group to develop its position as technology leader in the utilisation of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry.
Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production, said: “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 toolless manufacturing.”
Daniel Schäfer, Senior Vice President for Production Integration and Pilot Plant at the BMW Group, said: “Our goal is to industrialise 3D printing methods more and more for automotive production, and to implement new automation concepts in the process chain. 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, as well as various other areas of the company to systematically integrate the technology and utilise it effectively.”
Jens Ertel, Director of the Additive Manufacturing Campus: “Over the last 30 years or so, the BMW Group has developed comprehensive skills, which we’ll continue to enhance on our new campus, which has the latest machines and technologies. In addition, we develop and design components that are faster to produce than by conventional means, offer flexibility in terms of their form, and are also more functional.
“We are working hard to mature additive manufacturing fully and benefit from it as far as possible throughout the product life-cycle, from the first vehicle concept through to production, aftersales and its use in classic vehicles.”
Last year, the BMW Group produced about 300,000 parts by additive manufacturing. The Additive Manufacturing Campus currently employs up to 80 associates and operates about 50 industrial systems that work with metals and plastics. Another 50 systems are in operation at production sites around the world.
Additive manufacturing in research and pre-development
The pre-development unit of the Additive Manufacturing Campus optimises new technologies and materials for comprehensive use across the company. The main focus is on automating process chains that have previously required large amounts of manual work, to make 3D printing more economical and viable for use on an industrial scale over the longer term.
When it comes to developing 3D printing processes for use on an industrial scale, research projects are especially important. Such as the Industrialisation and Digitisation of Additive Manufacturing for Automotive Series Production (IDAM) project as well as the IDAM project, both supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research. With IDAM, the BMW Group and its 12 project partners are crucially paving the way for the integration of additive manufacturing 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 are now preparing it for the specific requirements of series, individual and spare-part production.
The 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 in very high quality and enabling the BMW Group to help strengthen Germany’s role as a pioneer in 3D printing.
The Additive Manufacturing Campus is also making a significant contribution to series production of plastic parts. In the POLYLINE project, the focus is on aspects such as digitally linking process steps, and the development of a consistent quality assurance methodology for the entire process chain.
The Additive Manufacturing Campus will provide the backdrop for the project’s consortium of 15 partners to develop and test a future-proof, fully linked, automated production line for plastic components. Findings from the project are expected to help reduce manufacturing costs by as much as 50 percent, making a vital contribution to series production. In addition, integrated quality assurance methods will increase the stability of technologies and make manufacturing more sustainable.
Training across the company
As well as manufacturing components, the team at the Campus provides personal consultations and training courses for associates across the company.
“To roll these technologies out successfully, we need well-trained colleagues across the network who fully understand their advantages and features. To use them, designers will need to adopt a new way of thinking and an entirely new approach as they devise the upcoming components. 3D printing allows almost any shape to be produced, paving the way for new designs and functions. Nowadays, there are countless components that can only be manufactured additively,” Jens Ertel explained.
BMW Group production facilities around the world all manufacture 3D-printing components already, be it for prototypes or production, or as country-specific parts for customers. Manufacturing parts where they are needed is a sensible solution for the BMW Group, and so additive manufacturing processes are a useful complement to existing production technologies. – TradeArabia News Service