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CUTTING EDGE.CUTTING EDGE.

CUTTING EDGE.

5 min reading time

BMW Individual uses artificial intelligence for cutting leather.

With know-how from the best staff: BMW Individual cuts leather with artificial intelligence.

21 March 2023

Fast, faultless and better for the environment: The BMW Individual factory at the Dingolfing plant uses artificial intelligence to calculate and cut leather. With the aid of the Automatic Surface Inspection system, leather surfaces for BMW and BMW M vehicle interiors can be better calculated, used more effectively and tailored more precisely. The process means a significant reduction in waste and about 15 percent less leather consumption, conserving resources and lowering CO2 emissions.

Der Bildschirm zeigt ineinander verschachtelte Schnittmuster, das Programm hat sie sekundenschnell auf der Fläche verteilt.Der Bildschirm zeigt ineinander verschachtelte Schnittmuster, das Programm hat sie sekundenschnell auf der Fläche verteilt.

HOW IT WORKS.

BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.
The cameras on the large scanner spot every unevenness.

The large scanner hums quietly as it moves over the leather. Its cameras register every unevenness, every bulge. The dyed material lying on the cutting table is destined to become seat covers for a BMW M3. On the screen beside the scanner appears a depiction of the surface of the leather, marked with dots, lines, coloured markings and numbers. “Here we see which parts of the leather can be used and which are scrap,” explains Marco Loistl, Head of Production and Maintenance at the BMW Individual factory in the Dingolfing plant. The screen shows interlocking patterns placed over the whole area in seconds by the computer. “And the programme also calculates the best positioning for the cutting parts,” says Loistl.

“EVERY WASTED PIECE HURTS.”

BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.
The cutting patterns are projected digitally onto the leather

The Individual factory at the BMW Group’s Dingolfing plant makes interior components for BMW vehicles with special equipment – for example dashboards with leather fittings for BMW M automobiles from the 3, 4, 5 and 7 series, along with the iX M60. It is a small field, with around 200 people employed in the production. “When you work with a living material like leather, every bit of waste, every unusable scrap of leather hurts,” says Loistl. “And even the best quality leather has tiny scars. If such natural features are too marked, then that piece cannot be used.”

NATURE MAKES CUTTING DIFFICULT.

BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.
An oscillating knife cuts the leather parts with millimetre accuracy.

Depending on the area of use, about three quarters of the leather flatware, as tanned smooth leather is called, can be used in the vehicle. The reason: an animal skin is not a simple oblong, but has a natural shape which makes cutting more difficult. And then there are the natural features.

Next door, at the cutting table a robotic arm armed with an oscillating blade begins moving, a few millimetres above the skin. With millimetre precision, it tailors the separate parts of the leather. The cut and finished parts then go to the sewing room.

SEARCHING FOR EVERY MOSQUITO BITE.

Before the new technology was introduced, the cutting patterns were drawn with chalk.
BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.BMW Individual: tailoring leather with AI.
Cutting leather is a bit like baking biscuits. You try to place as many cut portions as possible alongside each other so that you waste as little material as possible.
Marco Loistl, Head of Production and Maintenance at the BMW Individual factory in the Dingolfing plant

DIGITAL TRIAD.

BMW INDIVIDUAL.BMW INDIVIDUAL.

BMW INDIVIDUAL.

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