The project to automate plastic 3D printing has been successfully completed by BMW.


The Successful Conclusion of the POLYLINE Project: A Breakthrough in Polymer 3D Printing Automation

After three years of dedicated work and collaboration, the POLYLINE project has reached its conclusion. This ambitious endeavor, led by BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Campus, brought together the expertise of industry leaders like EOS, DyeMansion, and Grenzebach, as well as contributions from various other companies and academic institutions. The goal was clear from the beginning – to efficiently scale polymer 3D printed part production by integrating all the technological facets of the laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) production chain.

The project focused on multiple areas, including documentation of quality criteria and core characteristic values, as well as the automation of key sub-processes such as selective laser sintering, cooling, and post-processing. The aim was to achieve a seamless integration of these processes to optimize efficiency and ensure consistent quality throughout the entire production chain. And it appears that the project has successfully fulfilled these goals.

Several key technologies and solutions were employed to achieve this level of automation. The consortium utilized the EOS P500 printer, which proved to be highly efficient in handling build removals and cooling. In addition, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) were introduced for build conveyance, accompanied by an automated sorting and picking system. A software layer was also implemented to orchestrate and synchronize these processes. DyeMansion’s PowerShot DUAL Performance played a crucial role in surfacing and dyeing, managing cleaning and resurfacing tasks.

The successful outcome of the POLYLINE project is a clear indication that end-to-end automated factories are a viable solution for 3D printing. Dr. Blanka Szost-Ouk, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Predevelopment, and Planning at BMW Group, emphasized the importance of system-agnostic solutions with standardized interfaces for scaling up additive manufacturing. Fabian Krauß, Head of Polymer Systems at EOS, echoed this sentiment, noting that the advantages of automation include increased productivity, reduced equipment downtime, and a safer work environment.

With an investment of approximately $11 million, the German consortium has made significant progress in automating polymer powder bed fusion. This achievement paves the way for future iterations and collaborations in the industry. The potential reduction in labor costs, coupled with improved repeatability and reliability, presents a pivotal opportunity and challenge for the 3D printing industry as a whole.

It’s worth noting that the POLYLINE project is just one aspect of BMW’s comprehensive approach to automating 3D printing. The company is also actively working on automating metal 3D printing and sand core printing. The IDAM project, for example, has successfully implemented two fully automated 3D printed automotive production lines for metal LPBF platforms, utilizing artificial intelligence and robotics. Moreover, BMW has partnered with Loramendi and voxeljet to automate the 3D printing of large-scale sand cores for casting cylinder heads.

The successful conclusion of the POLYLINE project is an exciting milestone that sets the stage for further advancements in the field of 3D printing. The consortium’s dedication to integration, meticulous tracking, collaborative effort, and cohesive software has proven that fully automated production lines are not only feasible but also highly desirable for the manufacturing industry. The potential for cost-effective, extensive parts production is now within reach, marking a significant leap towards making various items more affordable and easily manufacturable.

As the POLYLINE project moves forward, the consortium aims to bring fully automated lines to a wider market spectrum. This continued innovation and integration are believed to be the catalyst for shaping the future of additive manufacturing and unlocking its true potential.

To stay informed about the latest news and developments in the 3D printing industry, as well as receive information and offers from third-party vendors, make sure to stay up-to-date with our blog.

Original source


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