BMW and Additive Tech
First, there’s the case of doing exceedingly low-volume production, but not only is this production as low as you can go—as in one car—but it has a somewhat otherworldly aspect. Rather than producing some bit of interior trim for the very special BMW Individual M850i Night Sky model, which was introduced at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, BMW Individual Manufaktur, the uber-personalization organization, took a different approach to the use of additive.
They created aluminum brake calipers that have a “bionic” design, which were printed for the car.
It is interesting to note that the calipers work with discs that, like the headliner, center console and exterior mirror caps, have what is known as the Widmanstätten pattern, which is characteristic of things like meteors, a cross-hatched design. This goes to the point of the name of the vehicle, “Night Sky.” And to give a sense of how serious they are, the trim plate on the center console, the transmission selector level, the door sill finishers, the iDrive touch controller and the start/stop button for the V8 engine are all produced, in part, with meteoric rock.
Speaking of engines, the 473-hp, BMW M S58 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder, turbocharged engine that is being introduced for the 2020 X3 M and X4 M sport utes is produced, in part, via additive manufacturing.
Or at least tooling used to produce the engine is.
The sand core for producing the cylinder head is produced with additive. This allows a design that the company says encompasses forms that otherwise couldn’t be created, such as the routing of coolant ducts optimized for the vehicle.
Here are some interesting numbers recently reported by BMW, starting with one-million, which is the number of 3D printed components that the company has used in series production since it started using the additive process for production purposes back in 2010.
A new software suite for 3D printing analyzes, repairs, and prepares 3D models using the native file formats of a variety of CAD systems, saving the conversion to STL for last.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is just one manufacturing method that drives advanced mobility forward and also has a history of embracing the digital connectivity demanded by this trend.