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Source: BMW Group Munich. Manufacturing processes using 3D printing are used in many areas at the BMW Group – and BMW Motorrad Motorsport also relies on this innovative technology with the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team. It makes it possible to quickly and efficiently manufacture new components for prototyping directly on the race track and to test them on the BMW S 1000 RR before they are finally produced in Munich or at the suppliers’ premises. In addition, smaller, mostly not heavily loaded parts can be manufactured on site so that they can be used in the race. The process is usually as follows: The engineers develop new components, these are simulated on the computer, made of metal or carbon, installed on the motorcycle and then tested on the racetrack. With the 3D printing process, on the other hand, it is possible to develop and test new components while the race is running. For this purpose, BMW Motorrad Motorsport has a portable 3D printer that travels from racetrack to racetrack in the truck and is set up in the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team’s pit on the racing weekends of the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK).

“With this technology we can make improvements to the RR quickly and efficiently. The further development of a WorldSBK bike is an ongoing process and it is often the small details that make a motorcycle better, ”says BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers. “Within the scope of what can be changed according to the regulations, our engineers are constantly working behind the scenes to adapt and optimize the individual components on the bike. With the help of 3D printing, we can implement this directly and quickly on the racetrack, even during racing events. Based on the acquired data and the resulting analyzes – in combination with driver statements or the input of the mechanics who work directly on the bike – we generate input for the development team. On the basis of this input, ideas arise that can either be transferred directly to constructions or through simulations via an iterative process lead to new constructions, all of which are carried out in CAD. The new components are printed out as plastic variants and tested on the bike as a sample part for installation and function. This is much faster than if we had to wait until the parts are manufactured either internally or externally and are available at the racetrack to evaluate them. In addition, possible collisions with surrounding components or restricted access can be assessed more easily than on the screen. “

Another advantage: If an adjustment is required, this can often simply be done in the existing plastic part and then implemented in CAD. This process can be repeated quickly and as often as required until the component meets the requirements 100 percent. First, a “dummy print” of the component is created, which can then be evaluated and adjusted immediately. “Usually you have finished components that you have developed using calculations, construction and simulation and then evaluate during test drives or on race weekends. There is always the risk that in the increasingly complex overall package, either design errors, difficulties during assembly or access to the component could be overlooked, ”says Bongers. “With 3D printing, we can create components quickly and inexpensively and optimize them while the process is running. As soon as the component is how we need it, we send the final data to the workshop, which then manufactures it from the appropriate material, usually metal or carbon, for racing. “

An example from the WorldSBK double header in Jerez (ESP) and Portimão (POR) shows how fast and efficient this process is. In Jerez, the deflection of the rear shock absorber was optimized based on the driving data. A 3D printed part was trial built and tested in the vehicle. The final data was sent to the supplier, who used this as a basis to create a new diversion on the days when there was no race. A few days later, just in time for the start of the next race weekend in Portimão, it was available and could be installed on the BMW S 1000 RR. And if smaller, lightly loaded components or spare parts have to be reproduced, this can even be done entirely on site with the 3D printer. Examples of this include lever adjustments, holders for sensors and quick-release couplings.

However, if the possibilities of the printer on site along the route are not sufficient, the possibilities are practically unlimited via the BMW Group’s in-house Additive Manufacturing Campus (AMC). The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team works closely with the Additive Manufacturing Campus. Through this channel, the team has unique access not only to the consulting 3D printing experts, but also to a comprehensive range of printing processes and various materials for various applications. The production of the components can be initiated directly from the track using BMW’s own systems. Examples of parts that are printed in plastics or metals directly for use on the World Superbike include brake vents made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, complex molded parts, crash pads made of titanium, aluminum distribution boxes and aerodynamic trim parts.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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