German automotive giant, the BMW Group, has seen the use of 3D-printed components in its models rising, with more than a million parts manufactured over the past decade.
The Munich-based company expects the output from the BMW Group Additive Manufacturing Centre to reach over 200,000 components in 2018 – marking a 42% increase on last year's total.
“The use of components made by additive manufacturing in series production of vehicles is increasing particularly strongly at the moment,” said Jens Ertel, director of the BMW Group additive manufacturing centre.
According to Ertel, BMW is following the development and application of the advanced manufacturing method “very closely”, partly through its longstanding cooperation with leading manufacturers in the field.
“At the same time, we are engaging in targeted technology scouting and evaluating innovative production systems,” he added.
Recently the BMW Group fitted its one-millionth 3D-printed component in series production: a plastic window guide rail for the BMW i8 Roadster.
The rail took five days to develop and was integrated into series production in Leipzig shortly after, BMW said in a release on 13 Nov.
The part is found in the door of the BMW i8 Roadster and allows the window to operate smoothly.
The component is manufactured by HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology, a high-speed method enhanced by the BMW Group in conjunction with HP and now in use in the series production of vehicles for the very first time.
The company can produce up to 100 window guide rails in 24 hours.
The window guide rail is the second 3D-printed component in the BMW i8 Roadster. The first was the aluminium alloy fixture for the soft-top attachment.