Clemson Students 3D Print a Cost-Effective BMW Prototype

A group of Clemson students have tapped 3D printing technology to create a BMW prototype at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing.

The project, dubbed “Deep Orange.” was done in coordination with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and, while staying within the framework of a BMW X3, made substantial modifications all within a strict budget.

The team leader, Ashish Dubey, explained why given their strict manufacturing needs and tight budget, 3D printing was the best choice.

“My team and I were facing the challenge of getting the parts built in the shortest possible time within the budget constraints. In addition to that, we were dealing with extremely tight dimensional tolerances and even a few millimeters of deviation from the CAD models would have resulted in [misalignment] of the parts or would leave us with big gaps,” Dubey said.

During the team’s research, the students came across the FDM process, which resulted in “drastically lower” costs with no compromising on quality.

“The final parts were as good as it can get in terms of geometric dimensioning and tolerances,” the team leader continued. “Overall, it was great working with the Stratasys Direct Manufacturing team and at the end of the day we got a chance to learn about a new technology which could very well be the future of low volume production parts.”

Rich Morris, Vice President of Assembly at BMW said the students’ experiment could well be the future of low volume automobile manufacturing

“The ability to integrate more low-volume models without incurring capital-intensive retooling costs and efficiency losses will be key to success in the future as we strive to respond to changes in market needs faster and with more flexibility,”he said. “The students working on this phase of the project did an excellent job of keeping costs down while finding optimal integration opportunities.”

Photo Credit: 3D Print (Finished BMW Prototype)