BMW Group pools 3D printing expertise under one roof

The new Additive Manufacturing Campus, which came at an investment of €15 million, brings together production of prototype and series parts, associate training, and research.

2020/07/01 — The BMW Group has opened its new Additive Manufacturing Campus in Oberschleissheim near Munich. under one roof, along with research into new 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 the utilization of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry.

The pre-development unit of the Additive Manufacturing Campus optimizes 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.

»Our goal is to industrialize 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«, says Daniel Schäfer, Senior Vice President for Production Integration and Pilot Plant at the BMW Group.

50 AM systems in operation

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.

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.

Long history of employing AM

The BMW Group first started the additive manufacturing of prototype parts back in 1991, for concept vehicles. By 2010, plastic-and metal-based processes were being rolled out, initially in smaller series used in the DTM race cars for example. Further series production applications followed from 2012 on, with a range of components for the Rolls-Royce Phantom, BMW i8 Roadster (2017) and MINI John Cooper Works GP (2020), which contains no less than four 3D-printed components as standard.

In addition, with its venture unit BMW i Ventures, the BWM Group has invested in various start-ups from the world of additive manufacturing: 2016 in Carbon, 2017 in Desktop Metal and Xometry, a platform for on-demand manufacturing. The most recent investment was in the German start-up Elise, which offers software for the optimization of component designs.