BMW's New Investment Could Make 3D Printing Key Part Of Manufacturing

Manufacturing car parts sometimes can be highly expensive, wasteful and inefficient, but BMW is taking steps that could change all of that.

In a press release Monday, BMW announced that BMW i Ventures, the automaker’s venture capital arm, has invested in Desktop Metal, a 3D printing startup based in Burlington, Mass. The company, who is preparing to launch its first product, specializes in utilizing 3D printing to create metallic parts and products, a process that could drastically change the the speed, quality and costs of automotive manufacturing.

“Just as plastic has redefined rapid prototyping, metal 3D printing will make a profound impact on the way companies manufacture rapid prototypes and mass produce parts across all major industries,” Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal, said in the release. “We are fortunate to have the backing of a leading group of strategic investors who support both our vision and our technology, and who are pivotal in propelling our company forward as we prepare for our product introduction in 2017.”

For BMW, the possibilities seemingly are endless. 3D printing with metal allows for the manufacturing of low-volume parts at lower costs. Additionally, not only does the process make the customization and testing of prototype parts more cost efficient, but also the manufacturing of end-use parts.

“Advances in metal 3D printing are driving innovation across a wide range of automotive applications and we are excited to work with Desktop Metal as part of our vision in adopting additive manufacturing (3D printing) at BMW,” Uwe Higgen, managing partner of BMW i Ventures, said in the release. “From rapid prototyping and printing exceptional quality parts for end-use production, to freedom of design and mass customization, Desktop Metal is shaping the way cars will be imaged, designed and manufactured.”

This appears to be just the beginning for Desktop Metal. Including BMW’s investment, the startup has raised $45 million in venture funding from Lowe’s and Alphabet, who owns Google, Fortune reports.

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Thumbnail photo via BMW

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