The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has signed-off on €10.7M for Polyline, a consortium looking to automate polymer Additive Manufacturing for the automotive industry.
Launched as a lighthouse project for the innovative production of plastic spare and series parts, 15 partners – including BMW Group, EOS, DyeMansion, Fraunhofer and 3YourMind – have joined with the common goal: A next-generation digital production line for the automotive industry.
The three-year Polyline project looks to tackle problems within AM-specific workflows, including the generally low level of automation of the physical handling and transport processes; the digital data chain along the horizontal process chain that is not continuous at many interfaces; a lack of transparency, and susceptibility to errors and limited monitoring along the process chain.
Much of this makes AM integration into relevant production control systems more difficult.
These obstacles limit the obviously high potential of additive manufacturing processes in existing series production and assembly lines.
With its BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad brands, the BMW Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cars and motorcycles, and as part of Polyline, the BMW Group is drawing up a catalogue of requirements to ensure that the production line developed meets the standards of the automotive industry and can therefore be integrated into existing production structures.
In the future, the demonstrator line will be set up in the new Additive Manufacturing Campus near Munich.
There, cause-and-effect relationships will be jointly researched as part of the project.
The aim for Polyline is for individual sub-processes of production – from process preparation to the selective laser-sintering process, cooling and unpacking as well as cleaning and post-processing – to be automated and integrated into the planned production line, in which all the technological elements of an SLS production chain will be fully linked for the first time.