BMW Zaps 3D Printing into Hyperdrive: The POLYLINE Project Unleashed!

BMW Zaps 3D Printing into Hyperdrive: The POLYLINE Project Unleashed!
The 3D-printed water pump wheel for BMW M4 DTM

In what can only be described as a Herculean effort of tech wizardry, BMW and its league of extraordinary collaborators have punched the accelerator on 3D printing, crossing the finish line of a three-year marathon with the POLYLINE project. This is not your garden-variety, print-a-cute-plastic-figurine kind of affair. Oh no. We're talking about a full-throttle, pedal-to-the-metal dash-to-scale polymer 3D printed parts production like never before.

Tucked away within the hallowed halls of BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Campus, a consortium of industrial titans, including EOS, DyeMansion, and—wait for it—STIHL (yes, the chainsaw mavens), along with a brain trust from top universities, has been pulling out all the stops. Remember when Sarah Saunders of fame told us about the need to document every micrometer from CAD to final print and automate the bejesus out of the process? Well, consider it done.

A section of the POLYLINE project with Grenzebach, DyeMansion and EOS automated systems, located at the Additive Manufacturing Campus of BMW. Photo via DyeMansion

But how, you ask? Enter the EOS P500 printer, a beast of a machine that, along with Grenzebach’s Exchange P500/4 gadgetry, has turned empire-build removals and cooling into an art form. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) were zipping around like diligent bees, while a software conductor orchestrated this symphony of automated sorting and picking systems. DyeMansion, not to be outshone, had its PowerShot DUAL Performance doing the two-step of cleaning and resurfacing with aplomb.

Philipp Kramer, the tech maestro at DyeMansion, couldn't contain his glee, proclaiming the POLYLINE project a full-blown symphony of automated awesomeness—a debut performance in what’s slated to be an industry-rocking series.

BMW's own Dr. Blanka Szost-Ouk waxed lyrical about the "system-agnostic solution," a fancy way of saying this cool tech can play nice with all kinds of printers, which is like catnip for scaling up Additive Manufacturing.

But it wasn't just about getting machines to do the heavy lifting. Oliver Elbert from Grenzebach tipped his hat to the safety dance—an environment where the bots take the risks, and humans craft the strategy.

Coughing up a cool $11 million, the German powerhouse has etched a blueprint for the future. The project has morphed from an avalanche of PowerPoint slides and caffeine-fueled debates into a streamlined, polymer powder bed fusion line that’s practically begging for more action. And let's not gloss over the cherry on top: cutting labor costs while bumping up reliability and repeatability.

Now, hold onto your lug nuts because BMW is shifting gears beyond just plastic fantastic. They're also steering metal 3D printing and sand core printing into the fast lane, with AI and robotics riding shotgun.

The POLYLINE story is far from over, with dreams of rolling out these automated wonders to the masses. In a world thirsty for cost-effective, large-scale production, BMW's latest escapade is poised to supercharge the way we make... well, everything. So buckle up, industry folks—BMW's just shifted into high gear, and the road ahead is looking mighty fine.