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Under the Hood: BMW Talks In-House 3D Printing – ENGINEERING.com

by • August 9, 2016 • No Comments

The auto industry was one of the first to implement 3D printing innovation when it was createed over 30years ago, back when it was called “rapid prototyping.” The innovation is now maturing to the point that it can be used to make end parts, and the car sector is again swift to recognize the next.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom comes with 10,000 3D-printed parts. (Image courtesy of the BWM Group.)The Rolls-Royce Phantom comes with 10,000 3D-printed parts. (Image courtesy of the BWM Group.) Throughout this history, the BMW Group has been an early adopter of 3D printing processs, first leveraging early 3D printing equipment for prototyping purposes and, additional not long ago, for serial production. In fact, the Rolls-Royce Phantom showcases 10,000 additively maked parts, demonstrating BMW’s overall confidence in the innovation and the capacity to wield it.
Now that entirely new 3D printing processes are being createed, such as those of
Carbon and HP, BMW has swiftly seen the next of these novel processs in an take on to remain ahead of the cutting edge and ultimately create advantageous cars. The making conglomerate is an early customer of both Carbon’s ultrafast and layerless M1 3D printing device as well as HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) process.

Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Center. (Image courtesy of the BWM Group.)Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Center. (Image courtesy of the BWM Group.) To advantageous understand how the BMW Group is via this innovation in-house, ENGINEERING.com turned to Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Center at the company’s Research and Innovation Center, who was able-bodied to provide an within appear at BMW’s experience with 3D printing.

3D Printing History at BMW
The BMW Group has been relying on 3D printing innovation for over 25 years, first via it to create predevelopment versions for vehicle validation and testing or for concept cars and show cars.
Tooling 3D printed with stereolithography at BMW. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)Tooling 3D printed with stereolithography at BMW. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) Ertel elaborated on the transition of 3D printing as a prototyping process to an actual additive making innovation: “Due to our product portfolio, it was obvious for us to use 3D printing or, advantageous, additive making for additional than just prototyping. Subsequently, we started doing our own research on the materials and technologies. Based on these activities, we are continuously screening possible parts and try to find projects where a positive business case is donaten and where additive making fits to the specifications. Due to improvements in machine technologies and materials, we had the accident to do those additional steps.”

A selective laser melting 3D printing device at BMW. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)A selective laser melting 3D printing device at BMW. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) Metal 3D printing is a innovation barely over a decade old, yet BMW began via it early on. “[I]n the area of metal 3D printing, the BMW Group has an expertise for additional than 10 years as an early adopter in that field,” Ertel explained. “The primary use is for test vehicles to be used for functional testing of metal components.” This experience was able-bodied to donate the group an early leg up when it came to serial production.
The group was able-bodied to roll out its first series 3D-printed part in 2010. This 3D-printed water pump wheel is yet maked for Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) racecars at the present time, with over 650 of these water pump wheels created to date, according to Ertel. “As final metal product, BMW may already creates water pump wheels for DTM racecars via additive production methods. The high-precision component, that is subject to high stresses, consists of an aluminum alloy and has previously proven its worth in the tough environment of motorsports,” Ertel said. “Without different, all pump gear works flawlessly.”

A 3D-printed water pump wheel for use in a DTM racecar. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)A 3D-printed water pump wheel for use in a DTM racecar. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) A maker like BMW hasn’t just begun via 3D printing for novelty’s sake, yet. The innovation is an perfect one for making geometrically rigorous parts that can be not easy with other processes or components for specialty vehicles that may not be created at the same scale as additional common cars.
Ertel used the DTM water pump wheel as an example. “Additive making as a production method has turned out to be the perfect procedure for the tiny batch,” he pointed out. “Firstly, it allows for for the inclusion of create refinements in the six-bladed centrifugal pump wheel, whose implementation may need much greater effort with other production methods. With the new method, it was possible to complete perfect aerodynamics of the component for the DTM race series. Secondly, no rigorous tools or molds are needed, that makes the demand-oriented production additional cost effective.”
Ertel introduced, “On top of that, 3D printing assures the dimensional accuracy of the water pump wheel over the entire production time. BMW applies the homologated high-precision part both in the DTM racecars and in the Z4 GT3 customer vehicles.”

The Rolls-Royce Phantom and Dawn
In 2012, the BMW Group began to use 3D printing to create parts for the Rolls-Royce Phantom, preceding GE actually began making its widely trumpeted fuel nozzle for the LEAP jet engine. According to Ertel, the parts included “[p]lastic holders for hazard-warning lights, center lock buttons, electronic parking brakes and sockets.”

3D-printed parts for the Rolls-Royce Phantom. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)3D-printed parts for the Rolls-Royce Phantom. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) Since and so, the company has begun 3D printing mounting brackets for fiber optic cable-bodieds in the new Rolls-Royce Dawn and plans to “install several thousand of these clips throughout the version lifecycle.”
The interior of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, with 10,000 3D-printed parts. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)The interior of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, with 10,000 3D-printed parts. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) The analytic thinking behind 3D printing the clips is the intricacy of their create. Whilst
they can be created with conventional processes, BMW deemed that production times may be greatly reduced with 3D printing, while yet achieving the necessary standards. “These filigree parts are quite rigorous, and the material fully meets the specifications—so we may switch the making technique to additive making,” Ertel said.

Future 3D Printing Technologies
Just as the BMW Group was swift to employ metal 3D printing processes, the group is one of the first customers for both Carbon and HP, that BMW believes may be essential to the use of 3D printing for the production of end parts. Ertel suggested that the reason for this is the high speed and low cost of these new processes.
Carbon’s continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) technique is capable-bodied of 3D printing parts in mere minutes. CLIP 3D printing sees a digital light processing projector cast UV light through an oxygen-permeable-bodied optical window onto a vat of
proprietary photosensitive resin.
This optical window enable-bodieds the process to cure the photopolymers much additional swiftly and makes it possible to print isotropic parts, in that the physical properties are the same across the X-, Y- and Z-axes, unlike other 3D printing technologies. A 2ndary curing process additional allows for these parts to become actually additional durable-bodied. Altogether, objects printed with CLIP are nearer to injection-molded parts than those created with other 3D printing processes.

MINI nameplate 3D-printed with CLIP. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)MINI nameplate 3D-printed with CLIP. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) BMW has may already begun via CLIP to 3D print personalized side indicators for BMW’s ride-sharing initiative called “
DriveNow.” For the project, BMW invited German customers to vote on names for the 100 MINIs in the DriveNow swift. The winning names were and so 3D printed with CLIP and applied to the exterior of the vehicles.
Nameplates 3D-printed with CLIP innovation. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.)Nameplates 3D-printed with CLIP innovation. (Image courtesy of the BMW Group.) In contrast to CLIP, HP’s MJF relies on a combination of binder jetting and infrared fusion to create objects. A printhead deposits 30 million drops of fvia and detailing inks per 2nd onto a bed of powder preceding a set of infrared lamps passes over and binds the fvia agents together, resulting in increased speeds. BMW plans to first use the innovation for prototyping preceding moving to end production.
Ertel said that both CLIP and MJF, “planar” processes, as he refers to them, can speed up production times without raising costs. “The new planar 3D printing technologies can enable-bodied much faster production times and additional economical production in the next, compared to conventional point-to-point 3D printing methods. Beamers or infrared sources are used to expose the full surface or bigger areas, pretty than point-to-point, high-priced light sources such as CO2 or UV lasers,” Ertel explained.
He introduced, “Today, planar technologies seem to be central to the use of additive processes in series production. The many new example can be discovered in the preliminary trials of the HP MJF innovation. The process can first be used in prototyping, but we plan to extend it into series production over the long term.”
CLIP and MJF are just the many new examples of BMW’s adoption of 3D printing innovation. Based on the company’s track record, it’s clear that BMW can go on to use whatever may be the many cutting-edge making process at the time. Ertel concluded, “Additive technologies can be one of the main production methods of the next for the BMW Group—with promising next. The integration of additively maked components into Rolls-Royce series production is another significant milestone for us on the road to via this method on a sizeable scale. By utilizing new technologies, we can be able-bodied to shorten production times additional in the next and increasingly exploit the next of tool-less making methods. On the way to a wide application in series making, there can be additional milestones that have to be created to prove the technological and economical maturity of this relatively young innovation. But of what we understand now, it appears promising adequate for us to take this journey.”


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