Next year, automotive powerhouse, BMW, plans to open their brand new 3D printing facility in Oberschleissheim, Germany. The company plans to open this ‘Additive Manufacturing Campus’ in order to to develop their 3D technologies and further integrate it in their manufacturing process. BMW estimates that the campus – which is located in an already existing building with nearly 65,000 square feet of space – will cost the company about $12 million and will hold more than thirty 3D printing systems.
Set to employee around 80 people, the goal of this facility is to develop 3D printing for the production of end-use parts, expand rapid prototyping capabilities, create customized solutions and integrate series production. BMW also plans to experiments with the latest breakthroughs in 3D printing technology, as they occur, very similar to how their current pilot plants work. This facility also provides an incredible opportunity for engineers and designers to collaborate and train each other on the different levels of BMW manufacturing chain.
The announcement of this new facility, as BMW has always remained ahead of the curve with 3D printing and currently has an Additive Manufacturing Center located in Munich. The Additive Manufacturing Center produces more then 100,000 parts and components per year using Fused Deposition Modeling and Metal 3D printing technologies. A variety of different parts are produced at the facility as well, including discontinued car parts, prototypes, plastic mountings and extremely complex metal chassis parts.
”Our new facility will be a major milestone in additive manufacturing at the BMW Group. The team there will evaluate new and existing 3D technologies in both plastics and metal printing and develop them to series maturity. Our goal is to provide the optimum technology and process chain, be it for individual components, small production runs or even large-scale manufacturing.” says Jwens Ertel, Head of BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Center.
BMW is considered one of the 3D printing’s pioneers in the automotive industry, having a production run of thousands of metal 3D printed parts for their ‘supercar,’ the BMW i8 Roadster. According to an article from David of 3Ders.org, “Its soft-top cover had a 3D printed aluminum alloy component, with an advanced new bionic design, inspired by natural forms. This gave it a higher level of rigidity than an injection-molded equivalent, as well as making it more lightweight.”
In addition to using 3D printing technologies for rapid prototyping and end-use parts, BMW was invested heavily in start-ups focusing on the development of new 3D printing technologies. By doing so, they have become a major advocate of additive manufacturing and many other automotive giants, such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi, have began to adopt 3D printing as a result.