With the BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY, BMW Individual Manufaktur once again sets new standards in design and technology. In particular, the use of genuine meteorite material on the controls and captivating details such as the hand-stitched headliner attract immediate attention. The story behind what is one of the most precious materials in the universe makes the BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY an exciting study of achievement.
3D printing – thought through.
As well as the use of genuine meteorite material, 3D printing is one of the defining elements of the BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY. It is often understood as a processing method for plastics, but – with the appropriate know-how – other materials like aluminium and metal alloys can also be used.
This special form of 3D printing, called ‘additive manufacturing’, has finally arrived in the automotive industry. Now it’s here, unique models, prototypes and motor sports vehicles with the highest demands on individuality and performance can benefit from the almost limitless possibilities of this revolutionary technology. With the BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY, the engineers and designers of BMW Individual Manufaktur have impressively demonstrated exactly what those possibilities can achieve.
The perfect visual object.
The BMW Individual M850i NIGHT SKY is the latest example of those possibilities, embodying a new dimension of luxury and striving for absolute uniqueness in design and material selection. Its aesthetics are characterised by craftsmanship and uncompromising quality. The use of 3D printing signals its pioneering spirit and engineering artistry and – together with the meteorite, special paintwork and high-quality leather components – ensures maximum exclusivity.
The striking appearance of the meteorite material could almost look as if it was created artificially. However, the unique pattern is actually of natural origin and occurs exclusively in cosmic projectiles like meteorites. The pattern, named after the Austrian scientist Alois von Beckh-Widmanstätten and first described by him in 1808, cannot be reproduced naturally on Earth. It is only created under very specific circumstances, when a molten alloy of iron and nickel cools by about 1 degree Celsius every 1,000 years, in conditions where there is very little gravity. In other words, this is one of the most unique materials in the universe.
Close to the stars.
Externally, components sporting the characteristic meteorite pattern, such as the exterior mirror caps, the front splitters for the side air intakes and the surrounds for the air breathers on the front side panels, are particularly eye-catching. The key to this ambitious task was 3D printing, with a team of around 15 experts successfully turning the NIGHT SKY’s bold vision into reality.
When searching for the right method to implement its ambitious goals, the Additive Manufacturing Centre of the BMW Group in Munich opted for the stereolithography technique. This is a special process that, rather than simply applying one layer of the material, uses a UV ray laser to make the component layer by layer, inside a tank containing a liquid resin sensitive to UV rays.
Rethinking the brake caliper.
The innovative brake calipers, with a bionic design inspired by nature, set a technical highlight among the vehicle’s many highlights. They were developed in close cooperation with BMW Motorsport and push the extremes in two respects: design and weight.
Just like in nature, additive manufacturing meant that only material actually needed for operation was used in the brake calipers. The result is a striking structure very similar to that of bone – one that would not have been possible using the traditional casting process.
This intelligent lightweight design reduces weight by up to 30 percent compared to conventional components, in an area of the vehicle where kilos weigh particularly heavily: the unsprung mass. Reducing the unsprung mass is one of the key factors in achieving maximum driving dynamics and comfort.
Pushing the boundaries.
3D printing redefines the limits of what is possible in the design of components for a vehicle’s interior and exterior. The technology marks the intersection of design, function and programming. In contrast to conventional printing processes, the additional dimension creates plastic components that can be produced cost-efficiently, despite their high complexity and small quantities.
Additive manufacturing comprises a whole series of similar processes. What unites them is the basic process of creating a component. The components are built up layer by layer, no matter whether by classic 3D printing with melted filament, stereolithography or complex laser sintering.