At last month’s BMW Digital Day 2018, the car manufacturer displayed a motorcycle frame and swingarm in one corner dedicated to 3D printing technology. What does this mean? Can we expect 3D printed motorcycle frames from BMW motorcycles this year? With the kind of innovation in technology such as 3D printing, it was only a matter of time before it invaded the motorcycle business too. Well, that time may have finally arrived for BMW.
What is the BMW Digital Day 2018?
During this event, BMW showcases some of its newest innovations in automotive technology that they are working on for upcoming products. These include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for the development of autonomous driving, 5G mobile connectivity for faster internet access, and the use of combined virtual simulation and real-life prototypes for vehicle development.
At the Digital Day 2018, BMW also announced that it is developing an additional road safety technology for all BMW vehicles. It’s a real-time hazard warning system, which will give information on accident-prone areas and extreme weather conditions to car owners, based on the data collected from vehicle sensors. BMW’s next-generation control system called the BMW Operating System 7.0 was on display at the event as well. It’s a fully digital system that’s designed to provide the drivers with all navigation, safety, driving control, and entertainment information that they need.
These insights to the company’s product development are proof that BMW is strengthening its digital mobility technology for optimum driver safety and control. However, none of these new auto tech previews are more intriguing than the corner allotted for 3D Printing Technology, where a 200-HP S1000RR motor with 3D printed body frame and swingarm was on display.
What is 3D Printing?
Today, different industries use 3D printing to create custom-made products with complex designs like jewellery, cameras, drones, toys and figurines. 3D printing is a collection of processes used in additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping to create three-dimensional objects layer by layer from any digital model data source like Computer Aided Design (CAD) or Additive Manufacturing File (AMF).
It is becoming a popular manufacturing method because of the speed, flexibility and customisability of its processes. 3D printing is also a cheaper way to produce highly complex parts and components that are required in a smaller number of units, just like in prototyping and vehicle testing.
Unsurprisingly, BMW has been developing 3D printed automotive parts for quite some time now. At the BMW Group Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, there is an Additive Manufacturing Centre that produces around 140,000 3D printed components each year to supply the company’s development projects. Some of the vehicles that have benefited from 3D printing are the BMW i8 Roadster, BMW’s DTM racing cars, and customised Mini Yours.
Will there be more 3D printed motorcycle frames?
Though the future of 3D printing with BMW is full of potential, there was no further information given about this new product on display at the 2018 BMW Digital Day. It was more like a preview of what BMW can do with 3D printing and to demonstrate the potential of the technology in mass automotive parts production.
Nevertheless, we should expect BMW to release news about the 3D printed motorcycle frames soon. Hopefully, the emergence of 3D printing in motorcycle production will benefit not only the manufacturers but also the motorcycle consumers. In the meantime there are plenty of great machines out there ready to hit the open road. If you’re looking at upgrading your ride, get in touch with the team at Aussie Bike Loans for some advice on finance.
Image credit: BMW Motorrad