BMW AG will invest more than 10 million euros ($12.2 million) in a new additive manufacturing campus, in Oberschleissheim, Germany, near its headquarters in Munich.
In an April 16 statement, the automaker said the new facility would allow the company to continue developing its expertise in the field.
The campus, said Udo Hänle, head of production integration and pilot plant, will consolidate the full spectrum of the BMW Group's 3D printing expertise at a single location.
Describing it as a major milestone, Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group's additive manufacturing center, said the team there will work on new and existing technologies in both plastics and metals printing and develop them to 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,” said Ertel who will also be the future campus director.
The campus will work in much the same way as a pilot plant and develop technologies for use within the network.
Much of the work carried out at the campus will focus on parts manufacturing for prototype construction, series production and customized solutions, according to BMW.
The campus will also act as an interdisciplinary training and project area for development engineers.
Located in an existing building, with an area of 6,000 square meters, the campus will accommodate up to 80 employees and over 30 industrial systems for metals and plastics.
It is scheduled to go on stream in early 2019.
According to BMW, additive manufacturing is an integral part of the group's production system and holds significant potential for series production.
Most recently the company has used AM to make parts for the BMW i8 Roadster and it offers customized 3D printed trim for its Mini brand vehicles.
The group expects that, with time, it will be able to decentralize production process, which would allow it to produce components directly where they are ultimately needed.
“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 S.C., Shenyang, China, and Rayong, Thailand, Ertel said.
Going forward, the company aims to integrate the technology more fully into local production structures to allow small production runs, country-specific editions and customizable components.