Motorcycles

BMW hints at future plans, with 3D-printed motorcycle frame

An S1000RR superbike with a 3D-printed frame and swingarm spiced up the BMW Group Digital Day 2018
An S1000RR superbike with a 3D-printed frame and swingarm spiced up the BMW Group Digital Day 2018
View 7 Images
An S1000RR superbike with a 3D-printed frame and swingarm spiced up the BMW Group Digital Day 2018
1/7
An S1000RR superbike with a 3D-printed frame and swingarm spiced up the BMW Group Digital Day 2018
The Mini Yours Customized can be loaded with a lot of personalized parts straight off the 3D printer, as BMW revealed at the Digital Day 2018 event
2/7
The Mini Yours Customized can be loaded with a lot of personalized parts straight off the 3D printer, as BMW revealed at the Digital Day 2018 event
BMW did not reveal anything regarding the 3D-printed frame that was on display at the Digital Day 2018 event
3/7
BMW did not reveal anything regarding the 3D-printed frame that was on display at the Digital Day 2018 event
BMW hinted at the Digital Day 2018 that 3D-printed frames will sooner or later provide a viable alternative to welded or die cast units
4/7
BMW hinted at the Digital Day 2018 that 3D-printed frames will sooner or later provide a viable alternative to welded or die cast units
BMW's 3D-printed frame on display at the Digital Day 2018 has to tame the 200 hp of the S1000RR superbike
5/7
BMW's 3D-printed frame on display at the Digital Day 2018 has to tame the 200 hp of the S1000RR superbike
The 3D-printed frame revealed at the BMW Group Digital Day 2018 may have required some welding, at least judging from the seams that are visible in the headstock area
6/7
The 3D-printed frame revealed at the BMW Group Digital Day 2018 may have required some welding, at least judging from the seams that are visible in the headstock area
BMW Group showcased at the Digital Day 2018 event the kind of plastic and metallic parts it can 3D-print in house
7/7
BMW Group showcased at the Digital Day 2018 event the kind of plastic and metallic parts it can 3D-print in house

On its Digital Day 2018 event, the BMW Group displayed technology applications destined to transform the automotive world in the near future. Starring among these, 3D printing is already producing car parts, but the appearance of a mysterious motorcycle frame certainly raised some eyebrows.

The BMW Group Digital Day 2018 event was, as its name suggests, a taste of the cutting-edge technologies that BMW is working on. Unsurprisingly, this year's central theme revolved around information technology, with topics like designing for the 5G mobile standard, the use of artificial intelligence in autonomous cars, how mixed reality applications can speed up development processes, connected vehicles and software operating systems for cars. There was also a corner dedicated to 3D printing tech.

Apparently BMW follows closely the developments in printing three-dimensional objects. Its Research and Innovation Center in Munich already incorporates an Additive Manufacturing facility which produces some 140,000 3D-printed parts per year, for several departments of the Group.

These include anything from cosmetic plastic bits for customized Minis, to aluminum mountings for the soft roof of the i8 Roadster and parts of the fuel pump in BMW's DTM racing cars. Nevertheless, it's fitting that a 200-hp S1000RR motor in a 3D-printed frame and swingarm takes things to another level.

BMW Motorrad has never been shy to innovation, recently revealing a new method for cheap carbon composite parts and, once again, the items on display were a motorcycle frame and swingarm. Searching for alternatives to the archetypal metal chassis seems to be high in BMW's priorities.

The 3D-printed frame revealed at the BMW Group Digital Day 2018 may have required some welding, at least judging from the seams that are visible in the headstock area
The 3D-printed frame revealed at the BMW Group Digital Day 2018 may have required some welding, at least judging from the seams that are visible in the headstock area

Unfortunately, although BMW is all too keen to emphasize on how you can order your Mini with your name carved on the glove compartment cover, there's not a single word about this frame, not even what it is made of.

BMW identifies two important advantages to 3D-printing vehicle parts; it is faster and cheaper. There's very little doubt that it is a potential revolution in itself, at least as far as its effect on the automotive industry is concerned, and the signs are there for all to see, ranging from titanium brake calipers to complete city cars, and even supercars.

There's probably no problem in printing a complete frame that'll have to bridle 200 horses – if it can hold its own in a supercar, it can certainly deal with the S1000RR. After all, someone else has already fitted a 3D-printed frame with a supercharged 300-hp motorcycle engine from the Kawasaki H2.

Source: BMW

2 comments
alan c
The bike frame appears to be aluminium: it has been welded to the steering head and the weld appears to be a typical ali. TIG weld.
El Bonko
Looks like something made with Autodesk's generative design software. If and when mass production 3D printing gets off the ground, a lot of things will start to look this organic.