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Quick Tech News


by Alexander Fäh

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BMW Revolutionizes Automobile Production with 3D Printing

  • BMW has manufactured over 400,000 parts worldwide using 3D printing.

  • The use of 3D printing enables the production of lighter and more efficient robot grippers.

  • Innovative 3D printing processes reduce costs and CO2 emissions in production.


BMW Embraces 3D Printing: Enhancing Efficiency in Automobile Manufacturing.

A 3D-printed robot gripper at BMW saves weight and increases production speed.
A 3D-printed robot gripper at BMW saves weight and increases production speed.

BMW has manufactured over 400,000 parts worldwide using 3D printers, establishing itself as a pioneer in Additive Manufacturing (3D printing). For over 30 years, the automotive manufacturer has relied on this technology to produce vehicle parts and production tools more efficiently and cost-effectively.

At the "Additive Manufacturing Campus" in Oberschleißheim, a hub for production, research, and training, more than 300,000 parts were 3D printed in 2023. Globally, the number of additional parts produced in recent years exceeds 100,000, spread across various BMW plants from Spartanburg to Asia.

A notable example is the production of robot grippers for CFRP roofs (carbon fiber reinforced plastic). These grippers are lighter, allow for higher speeds on the production line, and reduce cycle times, ultimately lowering costs. Additionally, the use of bionically designed grippers, manufactured using sand casting, saves a further 25% in weight. This not only reduces energy costs but also extends the lifespan of the robots.

Jens Ertel, Head of the Additive Manufacturing Campus, emphasizes: "The increased use of Additive Manufacturing in the BMW Group production system brings numerous advantages. We can quickly, cost-effectively, and flexibly produce production aids and handling grippers, which we can adapt and optimize for weight at any time. Less weight allows for higher speeds on the line, shorter cycle times, and reduced costs."

The BMW Group utilizes various 3D printing processes, including Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Large Scale Printing (LSP), to optimize its production processes. These technologies enable the cost-effective and sustainable production of large components using injection molding granulate and recycled plastics. This leads to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the use of primary raw materials.


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