BMW develops automated metal 3D printing production line capable of producing 50,000 parts per year


The BMW Group announced that the Industrialization and Digitalization of Additive Manufacturing (IDAM) for automotive processes under the IDAM project has been a success.

It is claimed that tens of thousands of automotive components can be additively manufactured using this production line every year.

IDAM is a project consortium funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and was launched three years ago. As part of this project, BMW and Powder metallurgy GKN built two pilot production lines integrating metal 3D printing and automaton technologies. Research institutes, large companies and SMEs also participated in the project.

The pilot production line developed at BMW uses a central control unit that consolidates all production data from individual line models to ensure maximum productivity, while automated modules transport 3D printer build chambers and transport metal powder processed between workflow phases. Post-processing takes place at specially designated stations, which have also been fully automated. To ensure part quality, sensors are used to check, for example, molten pool emissions with a CMOS camera and a pyrometer, while AI algorithms correlate the collected data with the actual quality of components. This makes it possible to identify deviations in the process during production and to effectively assess the quality of components.

Using this production line, BMW suggests that approximately 50,000 components per year can be cost-effectively additively manufactured in the production of common parts, as well as more than 10,000 individual and new parts, using the melting on a metal powder bed.

Felix Haeckel, Consortium Leader and BMW Group Project Manager commented: “From day one of the project. We felt the team spirit between the partners. Learning from each other, developing innovative solutions together and making the most of each partner’s individual strengths – these elements have been key to the success of the industrialization and digitization of additive manufacturing. »

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