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Published on March 31st, 2017 | by Geetika Bhasin

BMW combines VR with additive manufacturing for advanced processes and better user experience

The German manufacturer BMW has joined the additive manufacturing bandwagon and will combine this technology with virtual reality to streamline and curtail design costs. The two technologies are being used simultaneously and interchangeably for advanced processes.

An example of this intersection is when the HTC company released the MakeVR tool using which HTC Vive users can design 3D models in a virtual environment. Now BMW will use this technology to design new parts. As per the conventional methods of manufacturing, BMW manufactured two or three prototypes of each part, a process that was time-consuming as well as expensive. With the inclusion of 3D printing, the company can manufacture one-off prototypes in a timely and cost-effective manner.

As the company now combines VR to its manufacturing processes, BMW will further simplify processes and cut down parts even more than employed in the additive manufacturing processes. BMW is developing a VR program (in collaboration with Unreal Engine) that will recreate different surface finishes and features that are currently being integrated into BMW’s automobiles. The company will use the VR technology, to project the virtual images onto 3D printed parts to analyze the end result. Using the amalgamation of these two technologies, BMW’s designers will see the shortcomings in a particular design, and rectify them on time or adopt new virtual designs.

BMW intends to use virtual reality and 3D printing in tandem to increase the effectiveness of inter-departmental communication. The reason for using the two technologies together is to easily convey designs and ideas to different teams simultaneously. This would provide a user-friendly experience for the employees and improve the efficiency of work.

BMW has been incorporating additive manufacturing into its processes for the last 25 years. It has invested in numerous 3D printing start-ups including Team USA to provide a continuous growth and development of this technology.

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