HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Additive Manufacturing

BMW can manufacture inflatable 3D-printed parts

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the automobile manufacturer has developed a silicon-based, flexible material that can be used in state-of-the-art 3D printing processes.

07 Jun. 2018
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BMW can manufacture inflatable 3D-printed parts (Photo: BMW Group)

As part of its “Liquid Printed Pneumatics” project, BMW recently presented a new, additively manufactured material , the specific properties of which enable it to subsequently inflate. The Bavarian company primarily plans to use the malleable, adaptable material in vehicle interiors: Here, additional, pneumatic controls regulate the air pressure inside various, autonomous air chambers, whereby the specific air fill level determines the shape and stiffness of the relevant component.

The material is produced in a “liquid printing process” , which makes it both airtight and watertight. The automaker utilizes this material in combination with soft robotic technologies to produce adaptive hoses, cables, or chambers, which facilitate the manufacture of individually moldable seats or dynamic cushioning for the event of a collision, for example. Until now, it has only ever been possible to produce inflatable parts using complicated molding tools and special, electromechanical equipment – the more efficient and cost-effective 3D printing process is now set to replace these. BMW is currently in the process of building its new Additive Manufacturing Campus , at which the Group plans to consolidate its technological expertise. It is scheduled to open in early 2019.