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BMW shows off more of Rolls Royce’s serially 3D printed automotive parts and process

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After 3dpbm first revealed the serially 3D printed automotive parts produced for Rolls Royce, BMW Group (which owns Rolls Royce) is sharing more details about the production process. BMW invested heavily into AM tech and shows no signs of slowing down, as the Additive Manufacturing Campus, where research is being carried out, to max out the possibilities in the field, demonstrates.

The launch of the campus didn’t take place overnight and isn’t a new thing. It has been operating for a while now and was founded once BMW noticed the advantages 3D printing brings to the table and after a few years of actually using the technology for certain parts. Now BMW is 3D printing parts for Rolls-Royce models after the BMW i8 Roadster became the first production car in the world to use this tech.

At the BMW Plant in Landshut metal parts are currently made by laser beam melting. In production, the metal 3D-printed components are fitted to car bodies in an almost entirely automated process. Polymer components from the Additive Manufacturing Campus and the metal substrate for the trim panel are fitted in the automobiles. Parts that had previously been virtually impossible to realize are now engineered by generative design, which uses computer algorithms for rapid component development.

Together, experts and computers create parts that make the best possible use of materials in production. Many potential applications are only possible at all thanks to generative design, and 3D printing technologies are particularly suitable for creating their complex forms and structures, which were previously impossible to produce with conventional tools. For the company, this means topology-optimized solutions can now be used to improve form and function significantly.

Sometimes a photo is worth more than a thousand words. This is definitely one of those times: Rolls Royce (part of the BMW Group, one of the most active in implementing AM for production) showed off the  large batch of DfAM optimized and serially 3D printed automotive metal parts.

Rolls Royce had revealed a few years back that it had already produced over 10,000 parts by AM for its Phantom models alone. As recently as a few months ago, the luxury brand revealed it used AM to expand the body of the new Rolls Royce Ghost Extended without sacrificing internal comfort.

serially 3D printed automotive

Some really cool features visible in the parts also include the 3D printed brand name (Rolls Royce) and a QR code, along with numbers to identify the specific, unique, part: something that can only be achieved with digital manufacturing (and only with AM to this degree of serial production, as no subtractive method could ever compete).

The images show several different types of parts, which are then welded to the car’s chassis. This is already well beyond a case study and we can certainly speak of a true production application. Granted, Rolls Royce’s numbers are not comparable to those of mass-produced cars but this is yet another major step in the direction of serially 3D printed automotive parts nonetheless.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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