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    BMW launches custom cars that use meteorites and 3D printing to make components
    03.18.2021 | Cherry Chen | News

    On January 7, 2018, foreign media learned that BMW launched a customized car called M850i Night Sky, which has two main features: one is to decorate the cabin of M850i with meteorites, the other is to assemble 3D printed aluminium brake pliers.

    According to official news, the custom car was built before the unusually intense meteor shower that occurred during the night of January 3-4, 2019, when the Earth briefly passed through the orbit of asteroid 2003 EH. Debris from asteroids will enter our planet's atmosphere and burn up. In rare cases, small rocks in space penetrate the Earth's shield and fall to Earth in the form of meteorites.


    As BMW mentioned, some of these meteorites are now integrated into the BMW Individual M850i cabin at night.

    Meteorites are embedded in the decorative panels of the whole console, start/stop buttons, selection rods and iDrive touch devices to create a unique visual and tactile effect. The mosaic made of meteorite material is also integrated into the threshold decoration with a lighting model badge.

    In order to gain greater visual impact, the meteorite surface was constructed according to the Widmanst tten pattern, which was first observed by Austrian scientist Alois von Beckh Widmansttten in the early 19th century.


    For interior decoration, leather trim adopts three-color design, and central console uses LED lighting star constellation. The Widmanst tten structure repeats in the stitching pattern of the central part of the seat.

    In appearance, the Widmanst tten pattern can also be found on the rear-view mirror cover. The front-side separator is used to surround the front side air intake, the central reticulation board and the air respirator on the front side of the car. These exterior parts are specially developed for BMW Individual M850i Night Sky and manufactured separately by 3D printing process.

    With its expertise in 3D printing applications for aluminium components, BMW has developed and manufactured bionic design brakes. When making brake calipers, their quality can be reduced to the minimum required to meet the technical requirements, which means that only the materials required for brake operation are used. The resulting shape, whose structure mimics the skeleton - achieving the optimal balance between the stiffness and weight of the components - can only be produced by adding materials rather than by traditional casting techniques. Furthermore, the brake fluid passage can be combined into the structure of the brake caliper.


    BMW Individual M850i Night Sky'S external spraying paint uses special spraying treatment and combines two tones to achieve high impact effect. BMW began to use black non-metallic paint as the base color of the car body, and then applied a second layer on the San Marino blue metal paint, gradually forming a gradual effect from the bottom edge of the car body to the top of the wheel arch. Finally, three layers of transparent coatings with different particle sizes of pigments are applied to make the paint surface have a significant depth feeling.

    The M850i night sky is powered by an equally powerful 530 horsepower twin turbocharged V8 engine. It includes an xDrive all-wheel drive system and an eight-speed Steptronic gearbox. The standard M850i xDrive currently sells for $111,900 (about 770,000 yuan).

    In fact, it is understood that BMW Group has been using 3D printing for more than 25 years, and has used this technology to produce 1 million parts in the past decade. In 2018 alone, it is expected to print more than 200,000 components in 3D, an increase of 42% over last year. Dr. Jens Ertel, Director of BMW's Additional Materials Manufacturing Center, said: "At present, the use of additional parts in mass production of vehicles is increasing dramatically." "Through long-term cooperation with leading manufacturers in this field, we are paying close attention to the development and application of this advanced manufacturing method. At the same time, we are conducting targeted technological exploration and evaluation of innovative production systems.


    BMW Group's first million 3D printing components recently appeared in the form of BMW I8 Roadster's 3D printing window guide. It took only five days to develop and quickly integrated into mass production. The guide rail is located on the door of Roadster, which can make the windows run smoothly. It is manufactured using HP's MultiJet Fusion technology, which is currently being used for the first time in mass production of automobiles. The technology can produce up to 100 window guides in 24 hours. In addition, BMW uses EOS selective laser sintering and various other metal and polymer technologies.

    Windows rail is not the only 3D printing component in BMW I8 Roadster - it's not even the first. The first one is the fixture of soft top accessories, which is 3D printing of aluminium alloy. It is lighter and harder than traditional injection moulding plastic parts. This year, the component won the Altaair Enlighten Award for Module Category.

    It has a big 3D printing plan in the future. Recently, it has started offering a variety of customization options for BMW MINI, many of which are printed in 3D. Last year, BMW began using 3D printing technology on Rolls-Royce's optical fiber guides. Rolls-Royce currently uses 10 3D printing components in its product line.

    Earlier this year, BMW set up a new dedicated add-on manufacturing park, which may explain the rapid growth of 3D printing components last year. Two 3D printing components in BMW I8 Roadster were designed and manufactured in the Additional Materials Manufacturing Center. BMW Group has long been a leader in the field of 3D printing in the automotive industry, and has been leading the way.

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