For most of 2021, almost every car manufacturer was hampered by delays in the supply chain and, therefore, production delays were widely reported as well. The reliance on parts from other countries has revealed that this is the Achilles heel for many car manufacturers. This was made evident during the Covid-19 pandemic. In many cases, entire industries were forced to halt or delay production. The car industry, however, has always proven to be resilient and forward-thinking companies like BMW have come up with an innovative in-house venture that will use 3D printing to make some of its car parts, thus reducing the reliance on supply chains. What an amazing idea – BMW investing in 3D printing technology!
3D PRINTING TECHNOLOGY
The technology of 3D printing has been around for about two decades, but never completely caught on, chiefly because the technology was slow, not useful for making many products, and utilized substances like cement or metal, which are not easy to work with.
A lot has changed in recent years, however, with the technology, and it is here that BMW 3D printing technology is taking advantage of it to make parts for its new cars. BMW investing in 3D printing technology is an innovative solution that will use nouveau-age materials to make some of the parts for its cars.
GEL PRINTING TECHNOLOGY EVOLVES
The 3D printing company, Rapid Liquid Print (RLP), will use industry-standard materials to make soft flexible auto products without the need to further the process or retooling. The technology used by RLP was created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) labs and has granted the company an exclusive license for use. The key concept behind RLP’s 3D printing technology is the use of gel printing technology. Within minutes, RLP can create large-scale items from high-grade materials like foam, rubber, and plastics.
Until now, BMW 3D printing had never caught on in the auto industry because the printing was slow, time-consuming, and could only print out small volumes. At first, some of the items were of poor quality, making them not suitable for use in auto manufacturing. With the groundbreaking gel printing technology, however, RLP will be able to make high-quality car parts of any size and complexity within minutes. With RLP and BMW investing in 3D printing, it is going to reduce the time to make complex molds from 8 weeks to a few minutes.
DRAW IT ON PAPER AND PRINT IT OUT
The unique feature of RLP 3D printing is that if something can be drawn on paper, it can be printed. There are no limits on design. Besides printing on a large scale, the technology also allows for multiple objects to be printed at the same time. Currently, there is no other similar solution on the world market.
GEL PRINTING TECHNOLOGY IS IDEAL FOR CAR MANUFACTURERS
Researchers at MIT labs have already shown that gel printing technology is ideal for BMW 3D printing and that it can help avoid the long delays in the supply chain. With BMW investing in 3D printing technology, RLP is presently working in collaboration with BMW, but it also has plans to make parts for hospitals, footwear companies, and the aviation industry in the future.
BMW iVentures will represent BMW investing in 3D printing technology and helping to fund RLP to make its car parts, but the hope is that such technology will offer a wider variety of solutions to a bigger market. Exactly how much funding BMW has provided has not been revealed, but earlier BMW had mentioned a $300 million investment and it has a long history of promoting innovation. Contact Braman Motorsports BMW today at 1-561-609-0130 to learn more.