BMW Group kicks off project for serial automotive additive manufacturing

The BMW Group has launched what promises to be a landmark project for the introduction of serial additive manufacturing into the automotive industry. Named the “Industrialization and Digitization of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for Automotive Series Processes,” or IDAM for short, this project is supported by the expertise of 11 leading industry stakeholders and SMEs, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT.

The overall goal is to be able to produce at least 50,000 components per year in mass production using additive manufacturing, and over 10,000 individual and spare parts.

Series production of BMW's 3D printed roof brackets. Photo via BMW Group
Series production of BMW’s 3D printed roof brackets. Photo via BMW Group

BMW’s commitment to additive manufacturing in series production

An early adopter of additive manufacturing, BMW has been working and experimenting with the technology for several years, applying it to numerous functional and blue-sky innovation projects. The company has won awards for its 3D printed roof brackets, and its redesign of the S1000RR motorcycle frame serves as a demonstration of just a fraction of its capabilities.

In 2018, the group invested €10 million (approximately $12.3 million) to establish a specialist Additive Manufacturing Campus in Oberschleissheim, just north of Munich. This new facility is reported to be one of two sites that will be handling metal additive manufacturing for the IDAM project. The other site is in Bonn, a factory from IDAM partner GKN Powder Metallurgy.

Prior to this project, BMW Group, GKN Powder Metallurgy and Fraunhofer ILT were all, among others including TRUMPF and Daimler, part of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research‘s (BMBF) project “Integration of Additive Manufacturing Processes in Automobile Series Production,” an apparent forerunner for IDAM which is also sponsored by the BMBF.

Cutting the cost of metal parts in half

The IDAM project’s high throughput targets are looking to, according to partners, “replace cost and time consuming processes, such as the production of molds, and to meet the desire for product customization at no extra cost.” Spare parts will also be considered in the project. For this purpose, two modular and part automated additive manufacturing production lines will be set up in Bonn and Munich.

Automation and digitization of this line plans to cut manual activities along the process chain from 35% down to just 5%, with a cost reduction for metal parts at 50%. These goals, though ambitious, may benefit from research such as as the futureAM project, led by Fraunhofer ILT.

"This structural optimized differential housing, jointly developed by GKN Powder Metallurgy and Porsche Engineering, is one of the growing new e-drive powertrain applications for Metal AM." Photo via GKN Powder Metallurgy
“This structural optimized differential housing, jointly developed by GKN Powder Metallurgy and Porsche Engineering, is one of the growing new e-drive powertrain applications for Metal AM.” Photo via GKN Powder Metallurgy

In addition to BMW, GKN Powder Metallurgy and Fraunhofer ILT, IDAM project collaborators include:

Aconity GmbH, metal 3D printer manufacturer directed by Yves Hagedorn who was recently interviews by 3D Printing Industry,
Concept Reply GmbH, a manufacturing consultancy business based in Munich,
Myrenne GmbH, a medium-sized mechanical engineering specialist from Roetgen,
Intec GmbH, an international designer and manufacturer of energy systems,
– The Chair for Digital Additive Production DAP at RWTH Aachen,
– The Technical University of Munich (TUM), Chair of Metal Forming and Casting,
– Special purpose machinery manufacturer Schmitz Spezialmaschinenbau GmbH, Rheinbreitbach, and,
Volkmann GmbH, a specialist in automated material conveyors, as seen at formnext 2018.

The announced of the IDAM project concludes, “Only through this interdisciplinary cooperation does the IDAM project make it possible to holistically examine metallic 3D printing for automotive series processes and to establish it sustainably in production.”

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Featured image shows partners of the IDAM project. Coordinated by BMW Group