The BMW Group has announced that it will invest more than €10 million in a new Additive Manufacturing Campus in Oberschleissheim, just north of Munich, Germany. The new facility is expected to allow the company to develop its AM expertise, having begun series production of a metal additively manufactured cover carrier for its i8 Roadster in December 2017.
According to BMW, the Additive Manufacturing Campus will foster the latest AM technologies in the same way as a pilot plant, with the end goal of making them available for use within the auto maker’s manufacturing network. Much of the work carried out at the plant is expected to focus on manufacturing techniques for prototype construction, series production and customised solutions.
The AM Campus will also act as an interdisciplinary training and project area for BMW staff such as development engineers. Located in an existing building with a footprint of over 6,000 m2, it will reportedly accommodate up to eighty associates and over thirty industrial systems for metal and plastic AM. The campus is expected to begin operation in early 2019.
Udo Hänle, Head of Production Integration and Pilot Plant at BMW Group, stated, “Our new Additive Manufacturing Campus will concentrate the full spectrum of the BMW Group’s 3D printing expertise at a single location. This will allow us to test new technologies early on and continue developing our pioneering role.”
“Our new facility will be a major milestone in Additive Manufacturing at the BMW Group,” added Jens Ertel, Head of the BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Center and the future campus director. “ The team there will evaluate new and existing technologies in both plastics and metals 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.”
Investments in AM companies through BMW i Ventures, BMW Group’s venture capital arm, have also formed an important part of the company’s approach to AM adoption. According to the group, investments in start-ups have proved promising not only in strategic but also in commercial terms. The company has invested in a number of AM start-ups, including metal Additive Manufacturing systems producer Desktop Metal in February 2017, and reports that it is working closely with such companies now.
Using AM, the group stated that it believes it will eventually become possible to produce components directly where they are needed. Ertel explained, “The 3D printers that are currently operating across our production network represent a first step towards local part production. We are already using Additive Manufacturing to make prototype components on location in Spartanburg (US), Shenyang (China) and Rayong (Thailand).”
“Going forward, we could well imagine integrating it more fully into local production structures to allow small production runs, country-specific editions and customisable components – provided it represents a profitable solution.”