The current season of the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) starts with a small celebration for BMW, as one of the powertrains is fitted with its 500th water pump wheel made by metal Additive Manufacturing. The high-precision component, which is subject to high stresses, is created with an aluminium alloy and has previously proven its worth in the tough environment of motorsports.
In a race, the high-performance powertrains run up to 70% of the time under full load. In addition, the moving parts in particular have to handle extreme conditions. This is why, back in 2010, the BMW engineering team developed a one-piece, light-metal water pump wheel to replace the previously applied series plastic part.
Based on BMW’s long-standing experience in Additive Manufacturing, the engineers decided from the outset to apply Selective Laser Melting (SLM) in the production of the small series.
Additive Manufacturing as a production method has turned out to be the ideal procedure for the small batch, stated BMW. Firstly, it allows for the inclusion of design refinements in the six-bladed centrifugal pump wheel, whose implementation would require much greater effort with other production methods.
With AM, it was possible to achieve ideal aerodynamics of the component for the DTM race series. Secondly, no complex tools or moulds are needed, which makes demand-oriented production more cost-effective. Additionally, AM ensures the dimensional accuracy of the water pump wheel over the entire production time. BMW uses the high-precision part both in its DTM race cars and in the Z4 GT3 customer vehicles.
The BMW Group has applied additive production technologies in concept prototyping since 1991 and has developed the process further ever since. Depending on the specific requirements, the BMW Group uses a number of systems. The Rapid Technologies Center at the BMW Group’s Research and Innovation Center (FIZ) in Munich works on close to 25,000 prototype requests annually, producing close to 100,000 components a year for in-house customers.
Depending on the procedure and the size of the component, sample parts might be available within only a few days. They are used, for instance, in vehicle development, at BMW Motorrad, and in motorsports.
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